Five Progressive Responses to the Grand Challenges of the 21st Century: An Introduction

Lars Bo Kaspersen*, Liv Egholm

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


We are living in a world which is severely crisis-ridden and faces some major challenges. The fact that we are currently facing a genuine global pandemic (COVID-19) brings about even more uncertainty. The social and political institutions, which emerged and consolidated during the 20th century, and which created stability, have become fragile. The young generation born in the 1990s and onwards have experienced 9/11 and the ‘war against terrorism’, the financial crisis of 2008, changes to climate, environmental degradation, and most recently the COVID-19 pandemic. The generation born between 1960 and 1990 have had the same experiences along with severe economic crises in the 1970s and 1980s and the Cold War. Some of these challenges are in different ways intertwined with capitalism and its crises, while others are linked to the rapid development of new technologies, in particular innovations within communication and information technologies. This introduction lists the most important grand challenges facing the world as they have emerged more recently. The five articles following this introduction address some of these challenges, with particular attention to the problems of capitalism and democracy and the relation between these two areas. Most authors agree that climate change and the destruction of the environment are the biggest and most pertinent problems to address, but it is their stance that we can only meet these challenges if democracy is functioning well.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThesis Eleven
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)3-11
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Published online: November 15, 2021.


  • Capitalism
  • Democracy
  • Grand challenges
  • Liberal democracy

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