The American University in Cairo and the Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona have more in common than the arid desert locales of their respective campuses. We share a strong belief that universities must be dynamic forces for good in solving the complex problems of the twenty-first century. For this issue of the Cairo Review, we collaborated with an ASU think tank—the Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes, or CSPO—to produce a set of essays on Science and Innovation Policy. The result is a thought-provoking look at concerns ranging from the global energy revolution to the Obama administration’s reliance on drone warfare.

Our lead article is co-authored by ASU President Michael M. Crow, who initially established CSPO (as well as the Earth Institute) while at Columbia University. He and William B. Dabars make a powerful case for American research universities having to adapt so as to better address the ‘grand challenges’ of our times, such as sustainable development, poverty alleviation, and social justice. According to CSPO Co-Director David Guston who, with fellow Co-Director Daniel Sarewitz, oversaw the collaboration with the Cairo Review: “Crow is creating a ‘new American university’ that sees itself as part of a community of scholars and citizens who share values about the role of science and technology in our world.”

Speaking of desert locales, we’re also honored to publish an article on the search for groundwater in the Middle East by one of the most distinguished scientists in that field–Farouk El-Baz, director of the Center for Remote Sensing at Boston University.

Lee Gutkind reminds us that science doesn’t have to be, well, dry. CSPO’s writer in residence co-authored a contribution that describes an innovative project funded by the National Science Foundation to foster collaborations between writers and science policy scholars in the genre of creative nonfiction. “Knowledge of science, technology, and public policy is increasingly important for our prosperity and survival,” says Gutkind. “Writers can be the essential link connecting the scientist, engineer, and policy wonk to the real world.”

The Cairo Review-CSPO collaboration sprang to life a year ago, when Gutkind visited Cairo to deliver a talk at AUC. It’s fair to say that we have gained equally from our editorial work together. But I think that the Americans came out ahead in the culture exchange. Egyptians lavished Gutkind with local delicacies such as ful, tamiya, koshari, and molokhia. On the menu when the Cairo Review visited Tempe? Pizza, of course!

Scott MacLeod
Managing Editor