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Towards an Internationally Influential Center for Earth Studies

 
The most invincible thing in the world is “to be serious”…
——Mao Zedong,1957
 
Scientists build reputations and gain recognition not only for supporting conventional wisdom, but even more so for demonstrating that the scientific consensus is wrong and that there is a better explanation. That’s what Galileo, Pasteur, Darwin, and Einstein did…
——Gleick et al., Science, 2010
 
Tsinghua University decided to reestablish the earth science program to address issues in sustainable development in our era and to provide the scientific knowledge and policy recommendations to the human society in response to global environmental change. I believe history will prove that this is a correct and important decision. I hope that Center for Earth System Science will infuse new blood into the development of earth sciences in the world, and be able to provide China more experts in this field.
 
Tsinghua has taken a series of important steps towards the earth science initiative since 2009. For instance, its first important milestone was the establishment of this center with its excellent faculty resources inside the university and began graduate student training immediately after; in 2010, the university established the Institute for Global Change Studies, as a university-wide research center to promote cooperation between different schools and institutes. The university is considering undergraduate training in the near future. Under the guidance of the university administration, we will use the center as the base, and gradually expand it into one of the most advanced earth science research and education institutes in the world. I am fully hopeful and confident about the future success of the earth science initiative at Tsinghua!
 
During the next 3-5 years, we will mainly focus on the development of earth system modeling based on high-performance computing, earth observation and global change economics. We have been making great efforts to recruit first-class scholars and administrative staffs as soon as possible, so that we can train a new generation of distinguished multi-disciplinary scholars specialized in both earth system science and global change research. In order to realize this goal, we need to work hard in the following three aspects.
 
In terms of talent growth, I hope that center will meet international standards. This is mainly reflected in three aspects. First, scholars in the center should keep their own world-class status in their respective field and being able to maintain long-lasting cooperation with their foreign peers to ensure their cutting-edge position in the world; second, to attract the most distinguished students into the center, especially those from top universities; third, to possess a highly efficient supportive team of administrative staffs.
 
In terms of academic advancement, I hope that our discoveries could become new knowledge and update the current teaching materials, our scientific method could be widely recognized and accepted by our international peers; and the instrument, equipment and software we have developed could become industrial standards; our graduates could be welcomed by the society and other international institutions.
 
In terms of cultural development, I hope we can develop a diverse but harmonious cultural atmosphere with the spirit of innovation and perseverance, and the desire for perfection. All the instructors, researchers, staffs and students can respect and cooperate with each other, and every member in the center enjoys ample space to make progress. The center will provide a stage for everyone, so that everyone is filled with the sense of urgency, the sense of achievement, the sense of competition, and the sense of mutual learning; everyone has his own specialty, and all can work together as a team when needed. Let us make the center a well-known academic center, not only with top quality research, education and social services but also with top quality administration.
 
Let us take advantage of all the favorable conditions provided by Tsinghua, the nation as well as the society, let us improve our strategic development plan continuously and let us establish a fair, high quality, and multi-disciplinary international research institute under the guidance of scientific steering committee. We should stick to the people-oriented principle, improve the regulations, and increase academic exchanges at various levels, and finally we will try our best to develop the center into an internationally influential center in earth sciences within the next 5-10 years.
 
Thank you for your attention and support to Center for Earth System Science at Tsinghua University!