Intersections with infrastructure: 2023 reading list

Intersections with infrastructure: 2023 reading list

A selection of resources connecting infrastructure with health, education, and science.

The United States is at a pivotal moment, with landmark legislation having paved the way for significant investments in infrastructure. For years now, our own work has intersected with infrastructure; in 2022, Luminary Labs officially named infrastructure as a focus area.

Infrastructure is, as Federation of American Scientists CEO Dan Correa says, “the scaffolding for progress.” Because it underpins and intersects with everything, infrastructure is notoriously difficult to define. Infrastructure is more than roads and bridges — it’s a multifaceted concept that includes physical, digital, and social dimensions. Its far-reaching connections are also its greatest source of promise: Investments in infrastructure are investments in systemic change, resilience, and sustainability.

In recent months, we’ve been tracking infrastructure conversations, paying special attention to intersections with our other focus areas: the future of health, the future of work and education, and scientific discovery. We’ve curated a list of articles and reports to make those connections more tangible and the potential for progress more visible.

Future of health

  • Transformational community engagement to advance health equity (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation). How to foster trust and expand access to healthcare by engaging community members. Health policies and decisions informed by local input can help address inequities and discriminatory practices within our health systems, resulting in more equitable health outcomes.
  • Health technology for all: An equity-based paradigm shift opportunity (National Academy of Medicine). How cost and efficiency have informed the design of health technologies at the expense of systematically disadvantaged communities — in particular, people of color. Healthcare leaders can take actions to center equity when developing health innovation infrastructure.
  • What the first lung delivered by drone means for transplant science (Scientific American). How advanced mobility can revolutionize the logistics of organ transplants. While regulatory hurdles remain, a recent groundbreaking flight may inspire solutions for the transport of organs — like hearts and lungs — which need to be delivered to patients immediately.
  • A French village’s radical vision of a good life with Alzheimer’s (The New Yorker). How a French village is working to expand, rather than restrict, the day-to-day of people living with Alzheimer’s. Thoughtful infrastructure development can reshape the lived experience of those whose post-diagnosis lives are otherwise limited by traditional built environments.

For more on the connections between health and infrastructure, read our Health 2025 report.

Future of work and education

  • Schools as community infrastructure (Siegel Family Endowment). How schools and organizations can deploy educational infrastructure to benefit entire communities. A holistic vision of teaching and learning infrastructure can transform schools into hubs of human connection that support a range of stakeholders — from students, teachers, and administrators to families, residents, and employers.
  • We need a lot more electricians if we’re going to electrify everything (Canary Media). How workforce shortages hamper our best efforts to cut carbon emissions. Ensuring equitable access to career and technical education and training can support the construction of sustainable and climate-friendly energy infrastructure.
  • Seizing the U.S. infrastructure opportunity: Investing in current and future workers (Brookings Institute). How investments in future jobs and industries should be balanced with support for the existing workforce and optimized through ecosystem approaches. While federal legislation promises an avalanche of new infrastructure jobs tomorrow, we can’t neglect today’s hiring, training, retention, and equity gaps.
  • A love letter to libraries, long overdue (The New York Times). How local libraries have become the hearts of their communities, offering shelter, human connection, and an array of social services that patrons struggle to find elsewhere. Many educational institutions — including libraries — provide equitable access to resources for their communities’ most vulnerable and underserved populations.

For more on the connections between education, the future of work, and infrastructure, read our top takeaways from SXSW EDU 2023 and our People, places, and possibilities report.

Scientific discovery

  • Integrating environmental protection and social inclusion when designing and implementing energy infrastructure projects (USAID’s Biodiversity Links). How energy infrastructure designed for local conditions can foster sustainable global energy supplies. Supporting biodiversity and historically marginalized communities will require rigorous assessments of environmental and social impacts, increased accountability through monitoring, input from local communities, and a commitment to inclusive and equitable development.
  • The case for AgARDA (Institute for Progress). How agricultural research and development may hold the key to a sustainable future. A fully funded Agricultural Advanced Research Development Agency (AgARDA) could support an ecosystem of public and private funders to scale new advances, from development of resilient food sources to passive monitoring of livestock and crops for disease.
  • Climate technology progress report (United Nations). How to accelerate the development and transfer of climate technologies amid climate change, pollution, and diminishing biodiversity. Developing viable climate tech hinges upon financial, government, and institutional support for research, translation, and implementation.
  • Feeding the world without sunlight (Asterisk Magazine). How resilient food-supply chains can sustain human beings through moments of crisis and catastrophe. Potential strategies range from reforming futures markets to developing entirely new ways to produce food.
  • CHIPS and Science Act enshrines policy for new NSF technology directorate (American Institute of Physics). How the National Science Foundation’s Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships (TIP) is supporting translational research, accelerating the development of key technologies, and expanding America’s STEM workforce in regions across the country.

For more on the connections between scientific discovery and infrastructure, read our interview with Federation of American Scientists CEO Dan Correa and our ideas for advancing America’s bioeconomy.  

Photo by cottonbro studio.


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