The Education Research and Foresight Working Papers contribute to global debates on education and development in a world of uncertainty, complexity and contradiction. They serve a wide audience of policy analysts, academics, and practitioners. The series also provides insights into key issues within the framework of both the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as the Futures of Education initiative. Available in Arabic, English, French and Spanish. Consult the full series here.
ERF Working Papers
Education systems are the formal institutionalisations of the knowledges and values our societies privilege, who they privilege, how, and on what terms. They are imbued with assumptions. These assumptions inform how systems are structured. The pandemic has exposed existing global and local inequalities, non-binary dynamics of inclusion and exclusion, and dysfunctions of education systems. This paper argues that the global scale and severity of the education disruption challenges taken-for-granted distinctions that privilege systems of the ‘West’ as referential for ‘the Rest’. It argues that the existing overarching technicist knowledge regime is inadequate for recovery, and proposes an alternative approach.
This paper draws on economist Kate Raworth’s argument that vibrant economies arise not from jobs and the market alone, but from the caring work of households, from the infrastructure and investments of the state and from the collective resources of the commons. It suggests that education needs to attend not only to students’ capacities to participate in meaningful work in the formal economy, but to their capacities to create ecologically resilient and caring households. It suggests that attention needs to be paid not only to jobs, but to students capacities to sustain and defend viable states and to contribute to the maintenance of common goods.
In the face of the multiple existential threats we have brought upon ourselves, this paper calls for education to be reimagined and reconfigured around the future survival of the planet. To this end, it offers seven visionary declarations of what education could look like in 2050 and beyond. These declarations proceed from three premises. Firstly, human and planetary sustainability is one and the same thing. Secondly, any attempts to achieve sustainable futures that continue to separate humans off from the rest of the world are delusional and futile. And thirdly, education needs to play a pivotal role in radically reconfiguring our place and agency within this interdependent world. This requires a complete paradigm shift: from learning about the world in order to act upon it, to learning to become with the world around us. Our future survival depends on our capacity to make this shift.
This paper seeks to explore the tensions between the imagined future and the weight of the past through insights gained from transformative foresight interventions in several countries. It presents a simple futures thinking intervention process to create alternative strategies, and illustrates the process with examples from foresight workshops in education, and beyond. The common thread that weaves together these diverse experiences is the tension between the walled past and emerging future.