Today, I have been attending International UNESCO Chairs Forum on the Futures of Higher Education. The event was livestreamed on Facebook.
Italy and UNESCO at The Italian Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai, set up the session on a digital arena jointly. It lasted two hours and included a keynote by Mr. Francesc Pedro, Director, UNESCO International Institute for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean: The Futures of Higher Education: Global trends, opportunities and challenges. Two panels followed; 1) Skills for Work and Life and 2) Digitalization and Connectivity. At the end, the Italian UNESCO Chairs for Sustainability made a declaration. Finally, Ms. Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director-General for Education, UNESCO (live from Paris) thanked everyone for participating and made some closing remarks about the role of the UNESCO Chairs as knowledge bases and the importance of relating to change.
My impression of the day was:
Topics discussed were very interesting, especially the part with focus on futures literacy (Panel 1) with Professor Loes Damhoff, UNESCO Chair in Futures Literacy, The Netherlands, Dr. Ziad Said, UNESCO Chair on TVET and Sustainable Development, Qatar, Dr. Willy Ngaka, UNITWIN Network on Literacies, Green Skilling, and Capacity Development for Sustainable Communities in Africa, Uganda:
The moderator Giorgia Ferraro at The Italian Pavilion introduced Professor Loes Damhoff, UNESCO Chair on Futures Literacy, The Netherlands who started with this:
The future does not exist.
The future exists only in our imagination.
Our images of the future that we create have a profound impact on what we do in the present.
How do we prepare ourselves for something that does not exist?
What kind of skills for work and life do we need?
A short summary of the main points by Professor Loes Damhoff: We know three things:
- Change is constant
- Uncertainty is an aspect of life
- Complexity is a part of life
We cannot eliminate uncertainty and complexity. We might need to rethink how we relate to change.
One way to do that is futures literacy. This capability helps you to imagine multiple futures. We use the futures as lenses to look upon what we are doing in the present.
Professor Loes Damhoff concluded: When we plan and prepare for something that is going to happen, we can identify the assumptions that we have, and this means that we can open up for novelty and the unexpected. This is a new mindset for managers, policymakers and students.
We all anticipate – it is global! We need to become future thinkers on all levels of society to meet global challenges!
Professor Loes Damhoff, UNESCO Chair on Futures Literacy, The Netherlands.
I expected more interaction and found out that it was a digital stage that you could listen to and watch. However, the topics were very interesting and it was interesting to see and hear UNESCO Chairs from all over the world! The whole session was recorded and is available here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFEZIC6Ur3s
Helena Rydén, Ass. UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures at Linnaeus University