Vice Provost of Student Affairs Ainsley Carry believes USC students are poised to solve the world’s most complex challenges.
Carry, the latest speaker in the “What Matters to Me and Why” series, sponsored by the USC Office of Religious Life, opened with the words of Nelson Mandala: “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
Before an audience at the Ground Zero Performance Café, Carry shared the story of legendary runner Roger Bannister, who in 1954 became the first man to run the mile in under four minutes after nearly a century of failed attempts.
He explained why, just three years after achieving the elusive world record, Bannister’s time was beat by 17 other runners.
“He broke the cognitive barrier — the belief that this task was impossible,” Carry said. “And he unleashed human potential.”
Carry went on to describe how many formidable global challenges — lack of food, clean water, education and health care — can be solved by a similar breakthrough.
“This is the generation we have been waiting for.”
“Millions of people will die and suffer because they lack access to resources that are actually in abundance,” he said. “We have created barriers around these things. They seem unsolvable because they are enormous, they are complicated, they have no borders and because no one has solved them yet.”
He argued that this generation has the power to solve these great problems.
“This is the generation we have been waiting for,” Carry said. “This generation has done more community service than any previous generation; it is more socially networked than any other generation; and it is the first generation to use Facebook to overturn governments.”
He suggested three steps USC students can take to tackle these global challenges.
First, he urged students to focus on the collective will and harness the social entrepreneurial spirit already abundant on campus. Second, he advised an interdisciplinary approach across the university. Finally, he asked students to pick one problem and solve it.
“What Roger Bannister did for his generation is what our social entrepreneurs will do for this generation. This is the generation that does not believe in barriers,” Carry concluded.