Key idea: The same factor (the pandemic) that disrupted our ‘normal’ has also opened up new possibilities for reimagining and redefining our future. Younger generations need to be equipped with three key things – ‘futures literacy’, hope and fraternity – to build a better world.
Original author and publication date: Cristina Pozzi (for the World Economic Forum) – February 18, 2022
Futurizonte Editor’s Note: The democratization of futures literacy has been one of the goals of our own initiative for the past seven years. We are committed to continue pursuing that goal.
From the article:
“The trouble with our times is that the future is not what it used to be.” This quote by the French philosopher and poet Paul Valéry may seem an amusing contradiction at first, but it, in fact, contains great wisdom.
In this philosophical gap between the present and the future, a question emerges: what happens when the foundations on which we base our actions and decisions are shaken so strongly that we no longer feel the ground under our feet?
Our ability to imagine our future is one inscribed in our biology. A growing number of studies show us that our ability to predict what may come is largely based on the same neural mechanism necessary to remember the past. Memory plays a fundamental role in our anticipations.
However, the trouble is that we live in a time in which knowing the past is of little use in imagining the future – as uncertainty, acceleration and growing complexity increasingly characterize our world. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic that split most of our perception of life into a ‘before’ and an ‘after’– a radical and sudden change that hasenhanced our feeling of disorientation.
We’ve all been affected by COVID-19 in many ways. But some have been affected more than others because the system we are used to, that of the pre-pandemic world, was unable to respond adequately to the shock.
The good news is that the same disruption that shook our society to the core, has also opened new possibilities for our future. Not only do we have the opportunity to rethink our world completely, we have the responsibility to do so – for the benefit of both ourselves and future generations.
But to build a new world we need a new mindset to be taught to younger generations in order to fulfil the mission of education itself: giving young people the tools to understand the world they live in and to take on the challenges of their time.
Here are three fundamental things that need to be taught to build a better future.
1. Improve ‘future literacy’ for all
No-one realizes a future they can’t imagine, meaning that we should train our ability to imagine and transform our long-term futures.
UNESCO defines futures literacy as a key competence for the 21st-century, that enables people to better understand the role of the future in in what they see and do. Being future literate, it adds, empowers the imagination and enhances our ability to prepare, recover and invent as changes happen.
2. Build hope to create change
This brings us straight to the second point. Whenever we can think about a different tomorrow, we are manifesting our freedom to do so. But what is freedom if we don’t have hope? Many people today are disillusioned with the possibility of ever changing things and tend to lose hope – and there is nothing worse than a society without hope.
3. Embrace fraternity for the collective good
Method and mindset on the one hand, motivational energy on the other: now we need a third factor for future success – the compass that shows us the way.
Individualism is today contributing towards creating a society unable to look towards a common goal. However, there are many social challenges that transcend the individual and are so complex that they cannot be solved by one action.