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Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction

Transforming infrastructure through smarter information

Sister Margaret Atkins, Canoness of St Augustine and a contributor to the CSIC and Centre for Digital Built Britain paper ‘Flourishing Systems: re-envisioning infrastructure as a platform for human flourishing’ writes our first Smart Infrastructure Blog of 2021: ‘One moment in time – reflect, review and rethink for the future’. Bringing both hope and caution as we adjust to a world with COVID-19 and face the urgency of climate crisis, Sister Margaret considers our choices.

Reflecting on 2020 as “the year when the human race was forced to take a collective breath and, in that stillness, began to pay attention to what it was doing to itself. Or so we can hope”, Sister Margaret champions propitious signs that positive change is emerging – something she refers to as ‘the undergrowth movement’ – against the backdrop of the global pandemic and climate change. She asks: “How can we sustain this undergrowth eco-system? We need the right goals, supported by a shared vision of what it is to be human. We need flourishing communities and the human virtues that sustain these. We need a healthy environment in which we can provide our own food, shelter and energy, while protecting the climate and fostering biodiversity. We need wise, humble and imaginative leadership, which enables, connects and supports rather than commanding and controlling; a leadership of service not ambition.”

Highlighting the opportunities that have accompanied the challenges of COVID-19, Sister Margaret outlines possible directions for 2021: “We can approach this carelessly and without imagination, sliding back into ‘business as usual’”, she writes, “Or we can meet the task intentionally, reverencing our humanity, embracing the hard choices we need to make about our goals and purposes, and welcoming the opportunity we have had to reflect, face facts and to learn new things – to experience different ways of living. The choice is ours, and that is both a gift and a responsibility.”

• The informative and thought-provoking monthly blogs are written by members of the CSIC team, partners and industry experts to showcase opinions and ideas from the forefront of smart infrastructure and construction. 

Read the full blog by Sister Margaret Atkins.



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