Many people would define collaboration as the bringing together of resources through formal or informal networks. Many thinkers believe that in the 21st century collaboration will be critical to solve the increasingly more complex social, environmental and economic problems ahead. Fortunately technology is helping to facilitate collaboration, but there is another trend that may also help.
Living space is becoming more densely populated as a result of population growth and increased urbanization. Colombia and Bangladesh are the same size in square kilometers, but Bangladesh has a population of 180 million and Colombia has 44 million. In which country is greater collaboration required. Of course, the answer is Bangladesh just because of the very high population density. Collaboration is a natural force in areas of high population density. Today the collaboration may just be focused on survival but with education these natural collaborators become a real force for change.
Many of the highest population densities in the world are in Asia, such as the city of Shanghai, the island of Java in Indonesia and of course Bangladesh. As we consider the future of the U.S. we need to recognize that certain places in the world foster natural collaborators. We in the U.S. need to embrace collaboration more aggressively, and especially in our schools, because many of the competitors are natural collaborators.