Foreign Policy Digital

5 Very Important Things About the World Nobody Knows

The future will be determined by a handful of big questions that don’t yet have answers.

I spent much of last week in Toronto at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association. For those of you outside academia, this conference is an increasingly diverse gathering of scholars from around the world—mostly political scientists but also historians, sociologists, legal scholars, economists, and a few others—presenting papers or commentary on a wide variety of international, global, transnational, and other topics. There are a breathtaking range of subjects being studied, and the accumulated knowledge that participants display is impressive.

But as I read the program, attended panels, and toured the publishers’ displays, I found myself thinking about questions that didn’t get answered (at least, not in the sessions I attended). And not for the first time, I began reflecting about some important issues where I feel uncomfortably ignorant.

Which brings me to my top five things I’d really like to know.

There are few subjects of greater importance to the state of the world than China’s future course. Whether China keeps rising rapidly, slows, stalls, or retreats will have far-reaching effects on the global balance of power, on relations throughout Eurasia, the rate and extent of climate change, and a host of other issues. Yet this is a question on which experts do not agree, and

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