The Vision that we set out when conceiving PEARL was "to create a better world for a future in which people and the environment can thrive together in a mutually beneficial, safe, equitable and healthy way. We aim to improve the quality of life, health and wellbeing of all within the context of a more sustainable environment. We see this as a world in which people and environment come together".
During the past couple of weeks we have been doing some multidisciplinary community engagement in France, and I have given a number of talks about the concepts that underpin PEARL. In these contexts it has been useful to look at that Vision to see how it stands up after a year or so of operating in the PEARL facility. One aspect that has come through very strongly is how relevant and useful that vision is to what we do. It is important that it is so high level - fixing the world rather than trying to explore a discipline - and it sets a target for us to strive towards by whatever means we need to employ to achieve it. Those means are highlighted in our Objective: "PEARL challenges all frontiers and our endeavour is driven by the exploration of new ideas which contribute to the creation of a better world. We bring to the challenge whatever qualities it needs, whether multidisciplinary, multinational, multicultural or multifunctional. We believe in looking at the issue first, before determining what particular combination of scientific, artistic, engineering, humanitarian, or philosophical approaches might be needed to understand it".
This Vision and Objective have influenced everything we do - including the design and operation of the building itself, the way we work and engage with each other. They also provide a framework that acts as a guide for us all and helps to open up opportunities, reduce infrastructural, intellectual and organisational barriers that might otherwise impede their voyage of discovery. And of course they drive how we engage with communities in academia, industry, government around the world and especially in the local area.
The image above might be familiar to you - it is on our home page after all! - but it is useful sometimes to recall that PEARL is not just a laboratory, but a way of working, and it might be useful to remember that when engaging with PEARL it is with this full range of thought, activity and creativity, not just a narrow technical laboratory function.
In the coming weeks we will be running experiments about how people read the destination signs and information on buses, the way people interact with each other when some are using e-scooters, and, amongst other topics, how supermarkets might be made more accessible for neurodiverse people. These experiments are neither conceptually nor technically straightforward, and each needs a different complex of relationships. How we work together to compose each of the experiments reflects this open and holistic approach and high level vision.
It has been good to see that our pre-visionary Vision and Objective are standing up to the test of reality.