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Cover Story

Our Interconnected Future

When the coronavirus pandemic hit and then our nation was rocked by protests to end systemic racism and police brutality — protests that found echoes worldwide — the need to express a fundamental truth about our shared future became even more of an imperative. As the global impact of the pandemic and its implications became clearer, so too did the message we wanted our cover to convey: global connectivity.

“No man is an island entire of itself,” the 17th century English poet John Donne wrote while recovering from a serious illness in 1623. “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.”

Donne wrote these immortal lines 400 years ago, yet never has it been clearer in our increasingly connected world that we depend upon each other — and now each other’s data — for our health, our well-being, our prosperity, indeed, for our very survival. If we have learned any lesson it is this: If we are to thrive, we must all thrive.

Ironically, this resounding clarity comes at a time when we have been forced to put on hold, or at least transfer into the virtual realm, our normal, everyday connections with others in order to keep each other — and ourselves — safe.

The cover of this magazine aims to convey the essence of connectivity and the powerful idea that, through research and higher education,we will be at the forefront of comingchange and innovation as we work together to illuminate new pathways, forge new connections and create brighter beginnings that will allow us to emerge stronger and more united than ever.

In this issue, we invite you to discover how our faculty think our future may look; explore what it means to be human as artificial intelligence becomes ever more present in our lives; meet an alumnus who took a discarded 200-year-old invention and transformed it into cool, cutting-edge technology; and find out why Los Angeles has long been considered the birthplace of the future.

We hope you are inspired as you read how USC Dornsife met the moment by transformingonline learning into a vibrant virtual experience. And we hope you rejoice in your Trojan spirit as you discover how USC demonstrated true grit and resilience in weathering the many challenges the university has faced over the past 140 years.

Learn how USC Dornsife is forging an innovative new model for a liberal arts education for the 21st century and discover the numerous ways we are working across all disciplines to create a more sustainable and equitable future.

As you read this issue, take a moment to consider the words of Abraham Lincoln:

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”  

Susan Bell
USC Dornsife Magazine