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An animated guy
A Pop-Up Guide to Big History
David Christian developed big history to ask big questions and tie together big concepts. Now we're working on the Big History Project to bring the course to life for high school students and invigorate interest in the big fields of science, math and history.
What's in the course?
Big History Content Samples
Big History content includes video lectures, infographics, animations, texts and even comic books. Here are some samples from the course.
Starting with a bang
Big History Course Structure
The Big History course is broken down into two parts across ten teaching units. Each unit includes between 30-50 a la carte pieces of content that work together to achieve specific learning objectives and concepts.
Become a Big Historian
Big History for Everyone
Today we’re launching a new version of Big History: one that’s open and free for everyone. Like the school course, this version covers the history of the universe and how everything ties together—the basic approach that makes Big History my favorite course of all time. But in this version, ther...
Big History Project is Getting Bigger
This back-to-school season marks a major milestone for the Big History Project. After a successful targeted pilot program, it is now poised to expand and serve more than 3,000 students in 5 countries. After next year the hope is that the program gets even bigger – with free, online access for e...
A Big Update on Big History
I have written before about Big History, the project I undertook with Professor David Christian. After two years of pilot projects, we have come to an exciting moment: the launch of a new Big History course tailored for high school students and teachers. It is now free, open, and available to a...
Sharing my favorite course
A Big Commitment to Big History
Big history brings it all together - from the cosmic forces of the Big Bang to our complex modern society - and challenges students to understand the deep connections that exist between people, societies, the earth and the universe. It's a critical foundation for a lifetime of learning.
Setting High Standards for Students
As we develop our curriculum and assessment plan, we are paying careful attention to standards and the Common Core. Our content will ensure that students can not only think critically and connect ideas across disciplines, but develop skills and knowledge needed for career and college readiness.
Have a sip
Wake Up: The Big History of Coffee
How did the coffee in my cup get there? For students of big history, answering this simple question involves the industrial revolution, sugar plantations and even the climatic evolution of the earth. Bob Bain of the University of Michigan guides pedagogical development of the Big History Projec...
A unique approach
Learning to Teach Big History
Bob Bain discusses what it's like to teach big history, and how the unique content, courseware and approach to training is being developed to ultimately better prepare and support teachers in the classroom.
See what it's about
Explore Big History Content
In Big History students embark on a 13.7 billion year journey, traveling from before the Big Bang, all the way to the modern day and beyond. Students will investigate the mysteries of how our Universe exists and where we come from, gaining a better understanding of our fellow humans, the world...
Big History: From the Big Bang to the Present
If you want to learn more about big history, read this book. The author, Cynthia Stokes Brown, has also written a lot of the material for our Big History online course.
Off to a great start
Global Vaccine Summit: We Changed History
I wanted to share my excitement over the outcomes of the Global Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi, celebrating the huge progress toward ending polio and protecting all children with life-saving vaccines.
#askbillg part 2
I answered questions from viewers during my recent live Q and A, but there wasn't enough time for all of them. Here are answers to a few more. I will continue answering questions in future posts, so keep sending yours via Twitter by using the hashtag #askbillg.
A good time down under
My family and I traveled recently to Australia, where we saw some unique wildlife, climbed the Sydney Harbor Bridge, and got better acquainted with a nation that is playing an increasingly important role in helping solve the world’s big problems.
David Christian: Recommended Reading
Here’s a list of books recommended by David Christian. David is a member of the Australian Academy of the Humanities who originated the "Big History" online course, which surveys the past on the largest possible scales. David and Bill have been working together to make the course available to h...
I'm a Fan
A Discussion with Jared Diamond
I'm a big fan of the author Jared Diamond. His book Guns, Germs, and Steel had a huge impact on how I understand world history. I also enjoyed his latest, The World Until Yesterday. Professor Diamond was kind enough to respond to a few of my comments about the book.
Let's read this
Read Jared Diamond Along With Me
One of the books I and rsquo;m most excited to read this summer is called 'The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn From Traditional Societies?. 'It and rsquo;s partly because the subject sounds interesting, but it and rsquo;s mostly because I and rsquo;m a big fan of the author, Jared Diam...
What's in the bag?
My Summer Reading List
Last year I shared my summer reading list, and I thought I’d do it again this year. Here are a few of the books I’m planning to read, along with one recommendation of a book I’ve already finished.
Talking Polio, Education at TED
The TED Conference is known for highly stimulating talks by trailblazing thinkers (and doers) from around the world. They asked me to plan a session for this year’s conference, so I'm calling on speakers who will shed light on two of my favorite topics: eradicating polio and transforming educat...
A bunch of reasons
Building Better Bananas
I'm sometimes asked why the foundation has made agricultural development a priority along with global health. Actually, the two are intertwined. One example comes from Australia and Uganda, where researchers are using advanced technology to try to improve the banana.
Ethiopia: Exciting Innovations in Agriculture and Health
I’ve made many trips to Africa, but my recent visit to Ethiopia was definitely one of the most exciting. With effective governance and coordinated support from our foundation and other donors, the advances I saw in health and agriculture may be the key to unleashing Ethiopia’s potential and tha...
In Europe with Bono
Europe Day One: With Bono, Defending Aid
I’m in Europe this week for stops in London and Paris. I’m traveling part of the time with Bono - to meet with government leaders and policy makers of countries that are key contributors to global health and development work.
UNGA 2013: Day One
Farmers, MDGs, Bill Clinton, and More
My Monday afternoon during U.N. Week focused on development and innovation – in a couple of very different contexts. I started out with a chance to catch up with Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations and now serving as Chairman of AGRA, an organization our foundation does a...
A dynamic region
Impressed by Young Leaders in the Arabic Gulf
I’m excited to be traveling this week to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia and to Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Our foundation has important projects in the region, and fantastic partners who are making huge contributions to health and development
Teaming with Bill Clinton on Capitol Hill
On March 10, I was in Washington, DC, where Melinda received the Global Trailblazer Award from Vital Voices for her leadership in development. I also testified before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Big History course
Bringing It All Together!
David Christian, professor of Big History, talks about the origins of the program and how it differs from any other history course.
David Christian's TED2011 Talk
David Christian weaves together a story that helps explain how the universe gradually built greater and greater complexity and reveals what makes humans special. Learn more at the Big History Project
What stars create
The Lifecycle of Massive Stars
Even the creation and destruction of stars is part of our human story - after all, the raw material that makes up everything on earth was created as a byproduct of stellar explosions. Understanding this process, plus the math and science behind it, helps students more fully understand our plane...
Great online courses
Great Lectures from The Teaching Company
One of the real challenges in education is finding ways to give more people access to brilliant teachers who inspire and excite with their ability to bring material to life. Today there are some great examples of how technology can enable almost anyone to learn from the world’s greatest minds.
Improving Education in the U.S.
On July 11, 2012, I addressed the 2012 ECS National Forum on Education Policy in Atlanta, Georgia on the subject of improving outcomes for education in the U.S. Here's a transcript of my remarks.
Exchange of ideas
Discussing Big Challenges with Students
Watch webcasts of my meetings with students at Harvard and Berkeley, where we had lively discussions about how to solve some of the world’s biggest problems.
Little engine that can
EcoMotors: Reinventing the Internal Combustion Engine
Over the last 100 years, the internal combustion engine has transformed almost every aspect of how people work and live. Now, a small company called EcoMotors is proposing a radical overhaul for this century-old workhorse.
Entrepreneurs Hold the Key to Solving Many Big Challenges
I recently had a chance to meet with about two-dozen startup companies working on truly breakthrough technologies. Not all will succeed, but many will, and that’s exciting because they’re going to help us tackle some big problems—like producing sustainable clean energy and nutritious food to fe...
International AIDS Conference
What We Must Do to Turn the Tide on AIDS
At the International AIDS Conference, I shared my optimism about the great progress we’ve made in the fight to end AIDS. I also expressed my concern that we stay focused on finding effective ways to deliver treatment to all those who need it, and continue to innovate to build on our progress.
Let's finish the job
My Annual Letter: End Polio Now
Polio, once a worldwide scourge, threatens to make a comeback unless all countries do their part to eliminate it. Eradication is tantalizingly close but funding to fight the disease still falls short.
Speaking at the Rotary Club
Rotarians Urged to Create Noise on Polio
Over 25 years, Rotary has contributed more than $1B to eradicate polio, and has teamed with the foundation to raise $555 million to help stamp out "the final 1 percent." At Rotary's annual convention, I urged members to keep the issue alive globally and with local government leaders.
Closing in on 1%
Turning the Corner on Polio in 2012
The changes and progress in 2012 have made for the most convincing case yet that ending polio is possible – and is one of the most concrete accomplishments possible for global health.
News Worth Celebrating
A Big Milestone for Saving Children
You won’t see many headlines about the World Health Organization’s decision today to endorse a new Japanese encephalitis vaccine. That’s too bad, because there’s a powerful story here about the tremendous progress the world is making to save and improve the lives of the world’s poorest.
A difficult job worth doing
A Commitment to Global Health
I'm celebrating the progress made in global health and calling on the World Health Assembly to support vaccines for all children.
India: Day Three
My third day in India started with a visit to a community center that’s doing great work helping reduce HIV and providing support to sex workers. The day concluded with a meeting with a number of business leaders and philanthropists to talk about giving.
Longer lives, smaller families
Don’t Miss the Best News in Those New Population Numbers
The United Nations released some new population projections last week that are worth taking a closer look at. The news coverage about the reports hit the high points: the UN projects that the world's population will reach 9.6 billion by 2050, and India could overtake China as the most populous...
The Richard Dimbleby Lecture
The Richard Dimbleby Lecture was founded in the 1970’s in memory of one of the UK’s most influential broadcasters and is hosted each year by the BBC. I was incredibly honored to deliver the keynote speech for this year’s Dimbleby Lecture at The Royal Institution of Great Britain.
Tomorrow's Table: Organic Farming, Genetics, and the Future of Food
What we eat and how farmers grow our food has a surprisingly big impact on our climate and the environment. 'Tomorrow’s Table' is a book I read a few years ago that offers a window into the lives of a geneticist and organic farmer trying to increase yields on their farm using new kinds of seeds...
In a new book, Vaclav Smil explains the energy transitions that have driven social, economic and technological change worldwide over time. He also discusses the evolving shift from fossil fuels to renewables.
Polio: An American Story
Here's my review of the Pulitzer-prize winning book Polio: An American Story by author David Oshinsky.
Book Review: Moonwalking with Einstein
Sometimes people have suggested that I’ve got a “photographic memory,” particularly when I’m talking about topics that interest me, like science and business.
The Bet: The “Wager of the Decade” and Its Unfortunate Legacy
In 1981, two rival professors with radically divergent perspectives were sealing a bet that the Chronicle of Higher Education called “the scholarly wager of the decade.” This bet is the subject of Yale history professor Paul Sabin’s new book. 'The Bet: Paul Ehrlich, Julian Simon, and Our Gamble...
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined
How would you go about making the world a fundamentally better place? Eliminating violence, particularly violent deaths, would be a great start. Cognitive scientist Steven Pinker shows in his masterful new book just how violence is declining. It is a triumph of a book.
Read Jared Diamond With Me, Part 2
Last week I mentioned I'd be reviewing Jared Diamond's latest book and invited you to share your thoughts on the book. I wasn't sure what the response would be. It wasn't exactly light beach reading, and ten days isn't much time to find and finish a 460-page book. But I was pleased by how many...
The New Science of Strong Materials
Our ability to understand how materials behave has been central to the story of human progress over the years. One of the best ways to begin to understand this important subject is to read a book written more than 40 years ago.
Food and agriculture
2012 Annual Letter
My annual letter for 2012 focuses on food and agriculture, and the urgency of investing to end extreme poverty despite economic turmoil. I have good news but also a concern that continued progress could be threatened by global economic turmoil.
Work in progress
2010 Annual Letter
Every January, I write an Annual Letter, which includes my thoughts on the work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and progress it is making toward achieving its goals. Interest in the 2009 Annual Letter was one reason I decided to create the Gates Notes website.
Answers to More of Your Questions
Questions have continued coming in since my recent live video Q and A session, so I sat down recently to answer some of the latest. I'll continue answering questions in future posts, so send yours via Twitter. Make sure your tweet includes the hashtag #askbillg.
Join the Conversation
My 2012 annual letter drew a huge response from readers, many with important questions and comments on the challenges discussed in it. To continue and expand the conversation, I'll take questions from people around the world and answer them live, online.
Good ways to give
Making the Most of Your Holiday Giving
This holiday season, we decided to list several of the charity initiatives that have sparked our interest. Each of these projects takes a different approach, but they have three things in common: they’re innovative, committed to transparency and accountability, and they’re getting good results....
The Most Gratifying Job on Earth
Anyone who wants to seriously engage in giving faces two important questions: where can you make the biggest impact, and how do you structure your giving so it’s effective.
Markets for change
The Power of Catalytic Philanthropy
Last summer, I attended a summit on philanthropy. A talk I gave there was adapted this week in Forbes, who organized the conference. It talks about how philanthropy can make a real difference and its unique role versus government and business, and how all of us can contribute something to mak...
A model of ingenuity
America’s Greatest Inventor
Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, the movie camera, and a lot more. But his inventions may not be his greatest legacy.
A river runs through it
An Amazing Amazon Adventure
On a vacation earlier this year, my family and I explored the magical Amazon Basin, where we climbed trees in the rainforest and swam with freshwater dolphins.
A Year-End Reading List
Some books on predictions, inequality, prosperity, steam and Warren Buffett.
Ask me anything
The Best Questions I Was Asked This Week
I’ve done a lot of interviews over the years, but not many where I get to talk about the Gates Foundation’s mistakes, what the future of computing looks like, and the virtues of Samuel L. Jackson playing me in a movie, all in one sitting. And that’s only a few of the topics that people brought...
Charting the decline of violence
Better Angels of Our Nature in Graphs & Numbers
In his book, Better Angels of Our Nature, Steven Pinker shows how violence is declining, using data and charts. Here’s a look at some of the data from the book.
Introducing My TED 2011 Line Up
The TED conferences feature talks by some of the world’s most innovative thinkers and creative, influential change makers. I returned to TED both as a speaker and as the curator of a session with four speakers devoted to revolutionary change through knowledge and innovation.
Candy Innovation That’s Really Unreal
Every year about this time, you hear the warnings from public health experts, pediatricians and dentists about how much (if any) Halloween candy to let your kids enjoy. There are high-level negotiations going on in a lot of U.S. households (including my own) about this topic. So I’m happy to sh...
Can Science Improve Cooking?
The scientific and technological frontiers of cooking are comprehensively explored in 'Modernist Cuisine', a new, six-volume guidebook by my long-time friend and colleague, Nathan Myhrvold. For me, the book is fascinating for its in-depth explanations and its potential for making good food even...
Charles Kenny: Recommended Reading
Here’s a book recommended by Charles Kenny, a fellow at the Center for Global Development and the New America Foundation. He's also the author of 'Getting Better: Why Global Development is Succeeding, and How We Can Improve the World Even More'.
At the UW
Early Days as a Computer Programmer
The story of how Paul Allen and I honed our early programming skills on a PDP-10 mainframe at Computer Center Corporation (CCC) while in high school is well known. In an email exchange with Ed Lazowska, former chair of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington, I discus...
watch my recital
“Four Score and Seven Years Ago…”
Today is the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln and rsquo;s Gettysburg Address. What is left to say about this speech? It and rsquo;s one of the greatest in American history. I and rsquo;ve had a real fondness for it ever since I had to memorize it in the third grade. So when Ken Burns aske...
A day to give
Here in the U.S., we've had Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. Now there’s a new “day” in this post-Thanksgiving period I’m excited about: Giving Tuesday.
Beach bag books
Great Summer Reading
Summer is a great time for me to get in some additional time for reading. Here are a few books I’ve read recently, and a short list of some books I’m looking forward to reading this summer.
How I Became the Editor of WIRED (for One Issue)
As someone who is usually reading magazines (or occasionally appearing in them), I hadn’t spent a lot of time thinking about what goes into producing a regular periodical. I got a crash course in Publishing 101 over the past few months thanks to a really interesting and fun collaboration with W...
In China, Speeding Toward the Future
In September 2010, I traveled through China to visit with vaccine makers, computer scientists, energy technology companies and car manufacturers.
Inventing the Myhrvold Way
Nathan Myhrvold worked with me at Microsoft and went on to start Intellectual Ventures, which is inventing and investing in diverse fields including software, semiconductors, lasers, biotechnology, and medical devices.
Your books and mine
More Great Summer Reading
I’ve always been a big reader, and love spreading the word about great books that approach interesting topics in new ways.
A vacation, a plan, a canal…
Taking the Family to the Panama Canal
Melinda and I took the kids to the Panama Canal. It’s not exactly a typical vacation destination, but we all had fun learning about how the canal was built.
A revolutionary leader
PC Pioneer Chuck Thacker Wins Turing Award
For his lifetime contributions to computer science, the Association for Computing Machinery has honored Chuck Thacker with its prestigious Turing Award. Over four decades, Thacker’s work at Xerox PARC and Microsoft have helped pave the way for the modern personal computer.
Five Questions from the Twitterverse
Last week, I did an onstage Q and A with Twitter founder Jack Dorsey at the annual investors summit hosted by Vinod Khosla. Jack also solicited questions from the Twitterverse. Here are my thoughts on a few of the questions from his followers.
Casa Familiar Rural
Questions for Bill from Bahia
Casa Familiar Rural makes high school possible for young people on remote farms scattered across a rural region of Bahia, Brazil. Students live at the school one week, then return to their families for two weeks, where they’re visited by school monitors and expected to share what they’ve learne...
Water, sun, and whalesharks
Relaxing in the Yucatan and Belize
My family and I visited Belize and Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula recently for a family vacation. We had a relaxing time together, enjoying the good weather and beautiful beaches. We also had a chance to visit some of the Mayan archaeological sites such as Chichen Itza and Lamani, explore Belize’s...
Geeks are cool
Science & Leadership in Philly
Science Leadership Academy is an innovative public high school in Philadelphia with a focus on science, technology, mathematics and entrepreneurship. When I met with students at the school on April 29, principal Chris Lehmann thanked me “for making being a geek cool.”
Social Innovation Fast Pitch: American Idol for Social Impact
Social Venture Partners Seattle’s Social Innovation Fast Pitch offers non-profit and for-profit innovators a program to develop and sharpen plans and presentations of their work through workshops, coaching, and mentoring. After a series of competitive rounds, the program culminates in an Americ...
Steven Pinker: Recommended Reading
Here’s a list of books recommended by Steven Pinker, a Harvard College Professor and Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. He conducts research on language and cognition, and his most recent book is The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has De...
That Used to Be Us
That Used to Be Us: Recipe for Renewal
I recently reviewed the book "That Used to Be Us" and talked with co-author Tom Friedman about the competitive challenges facing the United States in a fast-changing, global economy. The book has a powerful prescription for restoring America’s vitality – summarized here in words and pictures.
A missing statistic
The Failure to Measure Innovation
Quantifying the economic impact of innovation has turned out to be surprisingly difficult. Astrophysicist Lowell Wood, and Nathan Myhrvold, former chief technology officer at Microsoft and founder of Intellectual Ventures, and I talk about how innovation is overlooked in economic statistics.
Reaching across 5 continents
The Giving Pledge Goes International
The Giving Pledge is growing with 105 billionaires in 9 different countries committing to giving away the majority of their wealth.
The Teaching Company
Awed by the Science of Great Structures
As an enthusiastic student of instructional videos offered online or on DVD, I especially enjoyed because it answers questions I've been asking since the 4th grade.
What, no romance?
Vaclav Smil: Recommended Reading
Here’s a list of books recommended by Vaclav Smil, who does interdisciplinary research in the fields of energy, environmental and population change, food production and nutrition, technical innovation, risk assessment, and public policy. He is the author of several books I've read and reviewed.
a very good year
Good News You Might Have Missed in 2013
Unlike a lot of people's year-end lists, I thought I would share a different kind of list: some of the good news you might have missed. I've limited my list to global health and development, where Melinda and I spend a lot of time, but even so, there's a lot to report.
Roundtable at Davos
Young People Will Change the World
At the 2012 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, I participated in a roundtable discussion on Opportunity for Youth. It's a subject I'm passionate about, because solving the world's big problems will require energy and creativity of people of all ages, and from future generations.
More and better crops
Better Farms – Improved Lives
With support from the foundation, six nonprofit agricultural development organizations are helping hundreds of thousands of poor farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia grow more productive, profitable, and sustainable crops.
Ethiopia’s Agricultural Revolution
Watch this video clip from my recent trip to Ethiopia to learn about the successes helping small farmers increase crop productivity and connect to world markets.
Gene banks for crops
Mexico, Carlos Slim, and Me
Mexico and philanthropists like Carlos Slim are helping lead the global fight against hunger and poverty through agricultural development.
Science, soil, and seeds
Photo Gallery: Agriculture in Ethiopia
Most of the world’s poorest people are farmers, and so helping them improve their lives involves expertise in soil science, seed hybridization, and agricultural marketing. All of which are being used to end hunger and raise living standards in Ethiopia, as I observed during my recent visit.
Peas and millet
India Day 2: Making a Better Pigeonpea
I’d never given much thought to pigeonpea and pearl millet before last week. But on my second day in India I learned how work with those crops is helping the livelihoods of some of the world’s poorest farmers.
Synergy in the UK
3 Great Numbers from My Trip to Europe
I learned about Europe's continued commitment to aid for the world's poorest during my recent trip, when I met with Prime Minister David Cameron and YouTube star Charlie McDonnell.
A Plan to Assist the World’s Poor
Advances in agriculture, education, health, and sanitation have led to a dramatic decline in child deaths over the last 50 years. But the global economic crisis is putting at risk the development aid so critical to continuing this progress. As Congress considers foreign aid in the coming weeks,...
A Day of Criss-Crossing Manhattan
Day two in New York just ended, and it was another terrific day. Melinda and I got to see a lot of people who share many of the goals we're working on.
Report to G20
Development with Impact: Innovation and Partnerships
Drawing on my experience at the foundation and in the private sector, and on examples of innovative development projects and partnerships, I've outlined opportunities to create a better life for people in the world's poorest countries.
Innovation with Impact: Financing 21st Century Development
In a report presented to world leaders at the G20 summit in Cannes, France, I outlined recommendations to encourage innovation and new partnerships that increase the value and delivery of development aid. Read the report and download a copy.
On My Way to Africa
On my trip to Africa, I'm thinking about malaria, public health systems, farm productivity, and beans. Yes, beans.
Should Companies Help the Poor?
Investing a portion of R and D in products to help the poor can help companies think about lower-cost business models and new markets.
Urgent Need for Help in Haiti
Victims of the unfolding catastrophe in Haiti require immediate help as living conditions worsen. Ongoing aid will be needed to help people rebuild their lives. Find out how you can help.
A small investment
Why We Must Stay Committed to Alleviating Poverty
I believe that development aid is a small investment that generates huge returns -- not only for poorer countries that receive it but for rapidly growing and wealthier nations as well. In the last 50 years, development aid has saved a billion people from starvation, fostered strong economic gro...
A solid investment
Why Our Foundation Invests in India
There is no better place to have an impact than India. That is why I believe India is a solid investment for anyone who cares about development.
Winning Toilet Designs
Inventing a Toilet for the 21st Century
I announced the winners today of the foundation’s Reinvent the Toilet Challenge—a competition designed to encourage breakthroughs in clean, affordable sanitation.
Light up your brain
Great Books on Science and Innovation
I believe that science and innovation are the keys to solving many of the world's biggest problems. Here are thirteen books on science and innovation that have influenced my thinking.
Kicking Off the Week with Nigeria's President
It's the kickoff to U.N. Week here in New York, and while locals like to complain about the traffic (I can see why), it is a great opportunity for me to meet with leaders from parts of the world where our foundation is working—to talk about global health and development projects.
Phoning it in
Mobile Phones + Savings: A Powerful Pair
I first wrote about digital money 15 years ago in my book 'The Road Ahead'. These days, I'm excited about financial services being offered in Africa over mobile phones. They provide an easy, safe and affordable way for millions of poor people to send, receive and store money.
In the slums of Mumbai
Q&A with Katherine Boo, Author of Behind the Beautiful Forevers
With its detailed depiction of life in one of Mumbai’s urban slums, 'Behind the Beautiful Forevers' is one of those books that makes you wonder about the story behind the story. So I asked author Katherine Boo if she would answer a few questions.
Conversations in Abu Dhabi
The Majlis Lectures
While in Abu Dhabi this week, I took part in a Majlis, a wide-ranging dialogue about global issues hosted by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.
A Good Trip
Why I’m Going to India
India is in an interesting position: It has both a deep understanding of the challenges and great capacity to help solve them. India’s cities are flush with highly educated people working in well-funded labs, as well as extremely poor communities like the slum in Uttar Pradesh that I visited la...
My Take on Technology & Teaching
Interactive online technologies have transformed entertainment. Could they also improve education? Universities and individual innovators are beginning to demonstrate how online learning can stimulate students, aid teachers and involve parents. I believe the opportunity is huge.
Targeting students' needs
Fresh Insights into Students’ Progress
With thousands of online instructional videos and new interactive tools, Khan Academy is helping teachers as well as learners by freeing up classroom time, tracking students’ progress and pinpointing their needs. Academy founder Sal Khan and Shantanu Sinha, president, explain.
Making good teachers great
Annual Letter: Excellence in Teaching
How to improve education? In this excerpt from my 2011 letter as co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, I advocate for innovation, online tools, rewarding great teachers and helping good ones become great.
Faster than I can watch
More Recommended Teaching Company Lectures
With more than 250 lectures from some of the world’s leading professors, The Teaching Company provides the opportunity to learn from great teachers who are true experts in their fields. Here are my recommendations for some of the courses that I've enjoyed the most.
Investing in professional education
Raising the Grade on Teacher, Student Performance
At the annual convention of the American Federation of Teachers, I talked about the importance of developing more effective ways to measure teaching excellence and share best practices to improve education in the classroom.
Shame is Not the Solution
In a New York Times op-ed, I respond to the New York State Court of Appeals ruling that teachers' individual performance assessments could be made public.
The tough job of teaching
What Teachers Mean to Me
Even today, I can remember the name of pretty much every teacher I've ever had. In high school I had a fantastic chemistry teacher named Daniel Morris. He gave me a hard time and told me that I was just getting by. I always did well in analytical chemistry, but I hated all those pipettes and te...
Q&A with Students
My Talk with College Students
From time to time I visit college campuses to talk with students and faculty about using their education and research to tackle some of the world's biggest challenges. Watch my talk and Q and A session with students and faculty at Harvey Mudd College and Pomona College.
State Budgets & Education Funding
My passionate belief in education has led me to learn more about the intricacies of school budgets and the state budgets that provide most of the money for public education. I believe our children’s future may depend on more people taking more of an interest in both school and state finance.
Going Back to College(s)
At Microsoft, I periodically visited college campuses to talk with students about applying science and technology to drive new waves of innovation.
Harvard at 375
A Yardstick of Service
Although I left Harvard after my freshman year to co-found Microsoft, I've been back to the Cambridge campus many times since to talk with students and faculty. On the 375th anniversary of Harvard’s founding, I was invited to share my thoughts on the university’s past and future.
A Challenge for Good
Imagine Cup: the Olympics of Great Ideas
More than 14,000 students registered for this year’s Imagine Cup competition across the United States. Over the weekend, 80 of those students participated in the U.S. finals, showing how technology can make a difference in solving some of the world’s most difficult challenges.
New Tools Help Teachers Guide Learning
To teach mathematics, schools in Los Altos, California, are piloting use of Khan Academy videos and online tools, which have replaced traditional textbooks and homework in two fifth-grade and two seventh-grade classrooms. Teachers say the change has brought huge benefits.
Real-World Solutions from World's Youth
Students from around the world are invited to register now for the Imagine Cup 2011, which this year offers a way for organizations working on the world’s big problems to get help from brilliant, passionate young people.
give kids an equal chance
Speaking Up for the Common Core
I went to D.C. to spotlight two issues: America’s commitment to improve outcomes for students in U.S. schools.
What scientists know
Recommended Reading on Climate Change
I recommend this report on climate change science and policy from The Economist, which reinforces my belief in the need for new, zero-carbon technologies.
How the U.S. can lead
Calling for Energy Technology Innovation
I'm passionate about the importance of developing new, clean energy sources that are inexpensive and that avoid the negative effects of climate change. On June 10, I'll join other U.S. business leaders in recommending specific steps toward a new national commitment to innovation in energy techn...
Definitely worth a look
Important Books About Energy by Vaclav Smil
Vaclav Smil, a distinguished professor at the University of Manitoba, takes a broad interdisciplinary approach that combines a deep understanding of the environment, energy, food, population, economic and public policy studies, and more. He is the author of more than 25 books.
Keep the switch on
The Energy Research Imperative
Over the past three decades, U.S. government funding for energy innovation has dropped significantly while other countries such as China, Germany, and Japan have dramatically stepped up their investments in clean energy technologies. The U.S. is uniquely positioned to lead in energy innovation,...
What About Wind?
Energy sources that provide power without producing CO2 are critical to addressing the challenge of global warming. The book Sustainable Energy – without the hot air prompted me to ask climate researcher Ken Caldeira what the prospects are for generating power from wind in the upper atmosphere.
A market for energy
Why Not Focus on Global Warming?
Here are my thoughts on climate change, both as an issue for the world’s poor and an innovation challenge for the marketplace.
Goals for 2050
Why We Need Innovation, Not Just Insulation
Conservation and behavior change alone will not get us to the dramatically lower levels of CO2 emissions needed to make a real difference. We also need to focus on developing innovative technologies that produce energy without generating any CO2 emissions at all.
Wired up about energy
Q&A on the World Energy Crisis
I was interviewed by Wired editor-in-chief Chris Anderson and some members of the audience at the Wired Business Conference in May 2011. The Q and A focused on the world energy crisis including technology, policy, and economics.
A Hopeful Message
A Roadmap for HIV Prevention
I traveled to Vienna to speak at the 2010 International AIDS Conference, the premier gathering for those working to prevent and treat HIV infection, which is a priority of the Gates Foundation. My message was hopeful, but advocated for changes to make anti-AIDS efforts more effective.
Reaching high-risk groups
Avahan: Winning Against HIV/AIDS in India
One reason I was very excited to be visiting India recently was to get a chance to check on our foundation’s efforts to support the work of the government of India to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS. India is making good progress and learning lessons that could be helpful in other countries.
Exciting News for HIV Prevention
I believe that one important way to stop the spread of AIDS is by empowering women to protect themselves from infection. I'm encouraged that new research shows positive results from women using antiretrovirals for HIV/AIDS prevention.
At the UN in NY
3,000 Miles for 3 Minutes: A Global Call to End Polio
I’m joining an amazing group of global leaders and donors at the UN in New York this week. We’re coming together to state our pledge to eradicate polio, a global health goal that’s never been so close.
An incredible opportunity
Creating a Polio-Free World Requires Action Now
Ending polio is one of my top personal priorities and a big focus of our foundation’s work in global health. We’re incredibly close to eradicating polio forever, but it’s crucial that global leaders continue to provide the leadership, political will, and financial resources needed to finish the...
Day 1 at the UN: Good Friends from Around the World
For me, Wednesday afternoon at the UN General Assembly was a great chance to catch up with some of our allies from all over who are working on the frontlines of global health and development.
"Last mile" to polio
Digital Mapping Technology Helps Polio Vaccinators Zero In
One of the things I’ve learned working on the global effort to eradicate polio is that it’s a complex war fought with lots of people on the ground and very detailed plans by vaccination teams to ensure that no children are overlooked. Now, public health officials have another tool in their arse...
Teaming up with FC Barcelona
More Than a Goal: End Polio
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is teaming up with FC Barcelona to draw attention to vaccines and polio. This exciting partnership brings together two organizations with a history and commitment to improving children’s lives. It creates an opportunity for millions of fans worldwide to...
An Encouraging Visit
Nigeria Advances the Fight against Polio
In a visit to Africa’s most populous nation, I witnessed remarkable progress against polio, with lessons for the fight against infectious diseases worldwide.
Our Plan to Eradicate Polio
First published in the Wall Street Journal, this opinion piece urges fast action by the global health community to eradicate polio in the three countries where it remains endemic: Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan.
A childhood terror
The History of Polio in the U.S.
David Oshinsky, the author of 'Polio: An American Story' reflects on the history of polio and the final push needed for eradication.
Photos from my trip
Snapshots of UN Week
View photos from my trip to New York for a special UN session on eradicating polio. I had a chance to meet with some of our partners in this fight - from Barcelona footballers to the President of Afghanistan.
On the Right Track
What I Learned About Polio in Nigeria
I had a great visit to Nigeria last month and was able to learn firsthand about how work is going on polio eradication and immunizing kids against preventable diseases. There’s a tremendous opportunity now for Nigeria to eradicate polio and it was exciting to meet with many of the government an...
World Polio Day: A Day to Learn, Act, Donate
Since 1988, 200 countries and 20 million volunteers have joined forces in the global effort to end polio. This year alone, nearly 400 million children have been vaccinated. I’m proud to be part of this effort. I hope you’ll join me in ending polio forever.
Dogs, tweets, and Tokyo
What Does 20 Million Look Like?
If I had to name one tool that saves more lives than any other in global health, it would be vaccines. Between 2011 and 2020, childhood vaccine programs will save 20 million lives. What does 20 million look like?
Let's get ready
A Better Response to the Next Pandemic
The H1N1 flu wasn’t nearly as bad as predicted, but not because of the effectiveness of the steps taken to contain it. The inadequate global response shows that we are still unprepared for a major pandemic. New methods for manufacturing vaccines quickly and other investments are clearly require...
A Kind of Magic
My Annual Letter: Vaccine Miracles
Global vaccination programs and vaccine research fight disease and save millions of lives. In my 2011 letter as co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, I explain how vaccines can ultimately help eradicate poverty and overpopulation, boost education and protect the environment.
Why Vaccines Matter
Providing greater access to existing vaccines and making new vaccines available quickly could save 8 million lives by 2020. With a 10-year, $10 billion commitment, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is supporting immunization programs designed to reach children in the world’s poorest count...
More work to do
Speech Urges Sustained Effort to Eradicate Malaria
On October 18, at the foundation’s second annual Malaria Forum, I spoke about the progress being made in the war against the dreaded parasitic disease. But more needs to be done to control and eradicate it, including a higher level of preventive drug treatment for pregnant women, additional res...
Health affects minds
A Disturbing Link: Disease and Intelligence
For me personally and for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, improving global health is a way to fight poverty as well as to save lives. The role of health in social and economic development is highlighted by new research on infectious disease and IQ.
In spite of tough conditions
Progress & Promise in Nigeria
In 2000, all 192 member states of the United Nations agreed to work together to achieve eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. I believe we all can learn from the MDG progress being made in Nigeria, which faces some of the greatest challenges.
Wash your hands
Can a Simple, Safe Childbirth Checklist Save Lives in Developing Countries?
I had the privilege recently of meeting Atul Gawande, a brilliant physician who’s using an amazingly simple concept—checklists for medical practitioners—to save lives and reduce health care costs. With support from our foundation, Gawande is investigating whether a safe childbirth checklist can...
Charting a Course to End Malaria
Today is the last day of the Malaria Forum, hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to rally the malaria community around the goal of malaria elimination and eventual eradication.
Vaccines and mangoes
India: Day Two
My second full-day in India started with a meeting with a high-level delegation from Pakistan of people working on eradicating polio in their country. It was tremendously kind of them to come to Delhi to see me. We had a lot to discuss.
A model system
Ethiopia’s New Health System
In this video clip, I show Ethiopia’s extraordinary new health infrastructure, which includes 15,000 Health Posts providing easy access to basic health services for mothers and children.
Health education helps
For Mothers and Babies, a Brighter Future
Each year in developing countries, millions of mothers and babies die during childbirth or in the first days and weeks of life. Reducing this tragic toll takes not only better access to health care but also health education, as Melinda witnessed during recent trips to Malawi and India.
The River of Myths by Hans Rosling
Hans Rosling shows how measurement reveals incredible progress in saving the lives of children in what were once labeled "developing countries."
One year polio-free
India Marks a Milestone for Child Health
This Friday will mark a full year since the last case of wild poliovirus was detected in India. This is a huge milestone in the history of global health. But the fight against polio is not over.
20 years of growth
If you’re wondering whether development aid programs really do any good, or if you doubt that government spending on things like health can really make a difference, then you should go to India, as I did again just recently.
partners in progress
New Generation of Gulf Leaders in the Fight Against Global Poverty and Disease
Young leaders in the Gulf region are taking advantage of the region’s rising prosperity, its unique insights and technical savvy, and combining them with a long tradition of charity to make unique contributions to the global fight against poverty and disease. That was my message in a speech at...
We have proof
Real Lives. Real Progress.
Optimism is always in short supply, but it’s needed to sustain efforts to improve global health and support development. Fortunately, thanks to development aid, reasons for optimism abound. To help highlight them, and Melinda and I are actively involved in the Living Proof campaign.
Some Exciting News About Saving Kids’ Lives
In 2007 the foundation supported a study called GEMS (for Global Enterics Multi-center Study) that evaluated more than 20,000 children in sites with high rates of deaths from diarrhea. The results just came out, and they’re very exciting.
A Gates Foundation Trip
Simple Advances, Amazing Benefits in Africa
On a recent trip to Africa, I explored innovative and cost-effective initiatives supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that are reducing child mortality and the risk of infection from AIDS, and increasing basic financial services and economic well-being for underserved people.
Visiting Tanzania: A Battleground in the Fight Against Malaria
I get to Africa at least once a year to see first-hand how the foundation’s work in global health is progressing. It is a multi-faceted effort that includes eradicating polio and treating and preventing other diseases, including AIDS and tuberculosis. On my most recent trip – to Tanzania – Meli...
Stopping infection, vaccinating
World Malaria Day: Reasons to Celebrate
Today is World Malaria Day when the global health community recognizes ongoing efforts to control the disease. As I reflect on those efforts, I’m encouraged by the results.
Zambia: On the Front Lines Waging War Against HIV and Malaria
If you were to just look at the health and economic statistics about Zambia, you might not have a lot of reason to be optimistic. But I recently returned from a visit there, not only encouraged but excited about what people there are doing to tackle two deadly diseases: HIV and malaria.
The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves
Science writer Matt Ridley recently wrote 'The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves'. The book focuses on some of the critical issues facing the world today including aid to Africa and climate change.
Why America is Not a New Rome
Although the U.S. has faced significant challenges in recent decades, Vaclav Smil points out in a new book why comparisons with the decline of the Roman Empire fall short.
Interventions: A Life in War and Peace
I recently picked up Kofi Annan’s book, 'Interventions: A Life in War and Peace', about his years as Secretary-General of the UN. It was a reminder of his achievements in global health and development, and helpful to learn about the other side of his UN work on peacekeeping issues.
Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses
The quality of our colleges and universities – particularly for undergraduates – should be a topic we all care about as a country. College is crucial in educating and preparing young people to succeed in an increasingly competitive global economy.
A World-Class Education
A half-century ago, the U.S. was the undisputed leader in education—the first country to achieve universal secondary education and the first to make college broadly accessible. Today, other countries are leap-frogging the U.S. on global measures of student skills and knowledge. 'A World-Class E...
Change.edu: Rebooting for the New Talent Economy
The growth of for-profit colleges and universities has expanded educational opportunities for non-traditional students. It also has stimulated a debate about what's going on in higher education. Here I review the new book by Andrew Rosen, CEO of Kaplan, one of the largest for-profit educational...
Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America's Schools
I'm a passionate believer in education reform. Here's my review of Steven Brill’s book, 'Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America’s Schools', a well-written account of the people, politics, and policies involved in the effort to improve teaching and learning.
Work Hard. Be Nice.
Founded in 1994 by Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin, KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) is one of the most promising examples of innovative thinking in American education.
Technology can transform education by simplifying access to great material, providing new approaches to learning, and offering a framework for assessing student progress and teacher effectiveness. A recent book looks at how technology is being used today and the barriers to change in the future...
Stretching the School Dollar
My profound belief in education has led me to become a student of the intricacies of state budgets and school finance in the United States. Here's my review of a provocative book, which argues that schools can and must improve dramatically without additional resources – even, despite budget cut...
Educational Economics: Where Do School Funds Go?
By most objective measures, education in the United States has improved little during the past 30 years. To better understand our education system, Bill has been reading widely about the complexities of school finance. Here’s his review of one of the books he’s found useful.
Why Does College Cost So Much?
There's a lot of concern about the cost of college. This book looks at college costs in the context of the larger economy, and offers suggestions for policy to increase access.
For all that has been written lately about energy conservation, where energy comes from, how we use it, and how much CO2 gas it generates, it’s hard to gain a clear picture of the situation. A new book by David MacKay provides the framework people need to really understand this critical subject...
The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World
Recently I finished reading Daniel Yergin’s new book, 'The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World'. It’s a valuable guide to the complex factors shaping the world’s energy needs, supplies and prices – even if a workout at over 800 pages.
Dirt and Disease: Polio Before FDR
In early 20th century America, the poor were often blamed for the spread of polio. The disease wasn’t fully understood, and it took a lot to overcome this.
House on Fire: The Fight to Eradicate Smallpox
The amazing story of the eradication of smallpox. The author, Bill Foege, has been an inspiring advisor to us from the beginning. I still read his speeches to remind myself who public health is for.
Infections and Inequalities: The Modern Plagues
Today, the poor are disproportionately more likely to suffer and die from plagues—diseases such as AIDS, TB, malaria, and cholera. Farmer’s concern is that the global health community emphasizes strategies that blame the victims instead of seeking solutions.
Jim Grant - UNICEF Visionary
If ever anyone ever deserved the title “Miracle Worker” it would be Jim Grant, who as head of UNICEF for 15 years mobilized the global community to immunize millions of children. The story of Grant’s remarkable achievements is chronicled in an out-of-print book that I read.
Reimagining Global Health: An Introduction
Paul Farmer, Jim Yong Kim, and Arthur Kleinman take an interdisciplinary approach to global health, considering history, geography, ethnography, and more. Based on a Harvard course, it's a great resource for anyone studying public health.
A Life Decoded: My Genome - My Life
This is not only an interesting story of a huge scientific achievement, it's the very interesting story of the guy who decoded the human genome.
Einstein: His Life and Universe
How did Einstein's mind work? What made him a genius? Isaacson's biography shows how his scientific imagination sprang from the rebellious nature of his personality. His fascinating story is a testament to the connection between creativity and freedom.
Open: An Autobiography
I enjoyed this autobiography and really appreciated Agassi's candor in sharing his life story.
Tap Dancing to Work
I never pass up the chance to spend time with my friend, Warren Buffett, because time with him is the essence of time well spent. Every time we get together, I learn a lot. I laugh a lot. And I leave hungry for more.
Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think
The authors take the view that we will become able to meet and exceed the needs of every person in the world, through technology, innovation, and philanthropy. Of course, I found this very interesting.
In Fed We Trust
Knowing what caused the current economic crisis is critical if we are going to prevent the next one. A new book provides interesting background about the way the Federal Reserve managed the crisis, but important questions remain about the steps that are needed to measure and mitigate future ris...
Crisis Economics: A Crash Course in the Future of Finance
This myth shattering book reveals the methods Nouriel Roubini used to foretell the current crisis before other economists saw it coming and shows how those methods can help us make sense of the present and prepare for the future.
Engineers of Victory
Paul Kennedy, award-winning author of 'The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers' and one of today’s most renowned historians, now provides a new and unique look at how World War II was won.
The Post-American World
What will the world be like when the U.S. is no longer the dominant global force? Fareed Zakaria explores that possibility in this follow-up to his book 'The Future of Freedom'.
A Guide to the Elements
A great book for middle and high school students, or anyone who is interested in learning about the basic concepts of chemistry.
For the Love of Physics
Among the animating forces my life are my love of learning, fascination with science and technology, and admiration for great teachers. All three come together in 'For the Love of Physics', a book I highly recommend, by Walter Lewin of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Physics for Dummies
Here's another book you can read to get a good, basic understanding of physics. No prior knowledge needed!
The Most Powerful Idea in the World
'The Most Powerful Idea in the World' is an entertaining narrative weaving together the clever characters, incremental innovations and historical context behind the steam engines that gave birth to our modern world.
The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments
You've heard of Pavlov's dog? If so, you'll enjoy this book about ten experiments that had a huge impact on the science of their time.
The Next Great Market Opportunity: Sanitation for India’s Poor
If you‘re inclined to take your toilet for granted, consider this. Half of all patients in hospitals in developing countries are there because of problems with water and sanitation. Last week we saw an encouraging sign that the sanitation issue is starting to get the traction it deserves: Delhi...
Getting Better: Why Global Development is Succeeding
Aid programs really do help improve life for people in poor countries. That’s the myth-busting conclusion of a new book that I hope will be widely read and discussed. I review 'Getting Better: Why Global Development is Succeeding – and How We Can Improve the World Even More'.
Ask Me Anything
View the questions and answers from Bill's first-ever Reddit Ask Me Anything.
Future of Food
Learn how food scientists are reinventing meat - and how it can benefit everyone.
global health hero
A Visit to Haiti, and the Biggest Hellraiser I Know
Last month, Melinda and I took the kids on a vacation during their mid-winter break—and managed to get in a quick visit to Haiti, where we caught up with one of the heroes of global health, Paul Farmer.
3 Myths That Confuse the Debate Over America’s Schools
I don’t know many business leaders who are satisfied with America’s schools. In fact, just about every CEO I know is worried that this country simply isn’t producing enough graduates with the skills they need to compete globally. Closing that gap is the goal of a set of academic standards calle...