THIS special section grows out of an earlier Monitor series called ``An Agenda for the 21st Century,'' which identified the handful of first-intensity, global issues facing us in the future. That series (now available in book form) didn't seek solutions. It simply defined an agenda. For a newspaper committed to solutions, however, that was not enough. Now that we've identified the major problems, we asked ourselves, where do we look for answers?

To find out, we brought together an international group of thinkers from a wide variety of backgrounds. The conference, co-sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor, the Johnson Foundation, and the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, was held April 14-16 at Wingspread, the Johnson Foundation conference center in Racine, Wis.

In the following pages, staff writer Rushworth M. Kidder (author of the Monitor's earlier 21st-century series, and a co-host of the Wingspread conference) reports on the discussion.

The 35 participants at the Wingspread Conference represented 12 nations and came from three groups: those interviewed in the Monitor's earlier ``Agenda for the 21st Century'' series; a group of their peers; and a younger group of ``successor generation'' participants. Several in this latter group were MacArthur Fellows, identified by the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation as having outstanding promise for creativity. The issues for discussion were initially grouped under three headings: environmental degradation, North-South relations (including problems of population growth), and East-West relations, with emphasis on the nuclear threat. During the conference, the participants identified a fourth issue deserving separate attention: the breakdown of public and private morality.

The conference also commissioned papers in the first three areas.

University of California professor Gail Lapidus wrote on ``Gorbachev's Reforms and the Future of East-West Relations.'' Rodrigo Botero, former finance minister of Colombia, prepared ``The Gap Between Developed and Developing Countries: Changing Perceptions.'' And Peter H. Raven, director of the Missouri Botanical Garden, examined environmental issues in ``State of the World, 2000: What We Should Do to Affect It.''

Since Dr. Raven was unable to attend the conference, his paper was presented by George Woodwell, director of the Woods Hole Research Center.

The participants in Agenda 2000 Joan Abrahamson (US) Lawyer, founder and president, Jefferson Institute (Los Angeles); MacArthur Fellow

Meinhard Ade (West Germany) Director general, Office of the Federal President, Bonn

Nazir K. Ahmad (Bangladesh, living in US) Co-founder and director, Overseas Development Network; graduate student, Stanford University

John Araka (Nigeria) Chairman, editorial board, Daily Times of Nigeria

Rodrigo Botero (Colombia) Former finance minister, Colombia; Ford Foundation trustee

William B. Boyd (US) President emeritus, the Johnson Foundation; former president, University of Oregon William C. Clark (US) Ecologist and policy analyst, Kennedy School, Harvard University Amitai Etzioni (US) Author and sociologist; visiting professor, Harvard Business School Douglas A. Fraser (US) President emeritus, United Automobile Workers Union

Theodore J. Gordon (US) Chairman, the Futures Group; former chief engineer for the Saturn program at McDonnell-Douglas

Kristin Helmore (US) Staff writer for The Christian Science Monitor; co-author of series on global exploitation of children Michael Hooker (US) Chancellor, University of Maryland-Baltimore County Matina Horner (US) President, Radcliffe College Edwin Hutchins (US) Cultural anthropologist, Institute for Cognitive Science, University of California-San Diego; MacArthur Fellow Shuichi Kato (Japan) Social critic, teacher, poet; author of prize-winning history of Japanese literature Rushworth M. Kidder (US) Columnist, The Christian Science Monitor Richard D. Lamm (US) Director, Center for Public Policy and Contemporary Issues, University of Denver; former Governor of Colorado Gail W. Lapidus (US) Professor of political science, University of California-Berkeley; chair, Berkeley-Stanford Program on Soviet International Behavior Brad Leithauser (US) Professor of English, Amherst College; MacArthur Fellow Stella Maria (Indonesia) Director of the Women, Youth, and Child Institute, All Indonesian Workers Union, Jakarta. Robert S. McNamara (US) Former president, World Bank; former US Secretary of Defense Patrick Mungai (Kenya) Features editor, Daily Nation, Nairobi Vineet Narain (India) Staff reporter, Jansatta (New Delhi); television documentary producer Olusegun Obasanjo (Nigeria) Former head of state, Nigeria Tommy Odemwingie (Nigeria) Features editor, the Guardian (Lagos); president, Nigerian Club for Information on Children Peter H. Raven (US) Director, Missouri Botanical Garden Tina Rosenberg (US, living in Chile) Freelance journalist; MacArthur Fellow Kim Shippey (US) Senior anchor and producer, World Service, The Christian Science Monitor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (US) Director, Maryland Student Service Alliance; co-founder, Robert Kennedy Human Rights Award Andrei Voznesensky (USSR) Poet, author of ``An Arrow in the Wall'' Katharine Whitehorn (Britain) Columnist, the Observer, London Shirley Williams (Britain) Joint president, Social and Liberal Democrats; former education minister George M. Woodwell (US) Biologist and environmentalist; founder and director, Woods Hole Research Center, Mass. Adam Yarmolinsky (US) Provost, University of Maryland-Baltimore County Billie Jean Young (US) Director, Southern Rural Women's Network; professor of speech and dramatic art, Jackson State University (Miss.) Zhang Yi (China) Research associate, Institute of American Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Peking

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