Welcome to Summer!
After a brief hiatus involving changing jobs (hello sabbatical!) and changing houses after 20 years (hello new house!), I’m back to share some futures items I thought were noteworthy from the past month – regarding topics I find important in my focus on the future of social welfare, higher education, the arts and more!
Afrofuturism on the Rise
Inspiring new piece from the Guardian in the UK, about the increasing attention and accolades afforded to Afrofuturism globally. Super place to get some good ideas for new reads before summer is done!
Future of Higher Education
Amazon has announced that it is getting into the training business with some serious dollars invested in this quest. This is a short piece that lays out what is involved and the scope of their aspiration. While there are many corporate partnerships with higher education successfully operating, some express concern that this bypassing of universities altogether could be an emerging trend. What is the “purpose” of higher education beyond preparing folks to participate in the workforce? What is the difference between education and training? What is a future where folks are continuously trained but not educated? What happens to the idea of academic freedom, open inquiry, challenging multiple points of view or politically unpopular perspectives in such a scenario? These are some of the questions that such movement inspires.
This recent piece from the Chronicle of Higher Education highlights a long-discussed but recently amplified case for free higher education nationally. It challenges faculty and administrators to be more vocal advocates.
New to me but active for years is Bryan Alexander’s robust website on the future of higher education. He describes it as “an ongoing, participatory, and open video conversation about the future of higher education.” So many good things here with representatives from a wide expanse of our sector. One can spend a nice long while exploring – and with good results! Particularly good segment here on the future of academic freedom. Check it out.
Good short piece on Washington state’s new plans to make college education free for all.
Future of Mental Health and Social Welfare
Responding to challenges from its members, Pinterest (and numerous prestigious partners) recently launched a new service through its webpage to help users find resources to manage stress and anxiety. Interesting spin on “go where the people are” kind of approach rather than starting freestanding apps or services. Worth a look.
Going digital to improve addiction recovery rates is the focus of this article challenging the addiction intervention and treatment fields to seek out, experiment with and use new approaches to supporting those suffering. Here’s another brief article that suggests a new generation of digital tools to respond to mental health needs of the world’s populations is coming and needed. The name of the report’s author is the Global Council of Future Neurotechnologies – which in and of itself should awaken our sensibilities, our ethics and our sense of inquiry into a rapidly expanding set of options that will be increasingly part of our mental health toolkit. Are we ready? Other authors explore the future of the mental health sector (neurotechnology figuring prominently) here, here and here. Finally, even the National Institute of Mental Health is increasingly focused on a futures lens.
Sobering story on the coming climate change-related migration – and the ways in which social welfare will be impacted (negatively). This piece suggests that the rich will be able to escape the impacts of climate change at even higher rates than has been the case, and that the poor will not. How can human rights protections evolve to address this concern? Urgent for us all to consider.
Race and Tech
Fun article about why thinking of “crazy-sounding scenarios” about the future is smart and increasingly more popular all the time. Classic futures information!Powerful and well-written piece regarding the role and responsibilities of the entire futures field to tackle global inequities as part of its moral responsibilities. This line inspires me: “We have an opportunity to re-imagine human and planetary flourishing in the 21st century, and to achieve this, we need radical hope and inclusive progress.” Thank you author Aarathi Krishnan.
Data and Privacy
Quite interesting to read the UK’s recently released guidelines for “Data Protection Regulation” and imagine what it would look like if all countries operated openly, transparently with these such guidelines. Many countries are wrestling with this issue.
Government and “Technocracy”
What is the future of citizenship? What if membership in a virtual community connected with issues such as sovereignty? This article explores these and other complex, fascinating and slightly unnerving dimensions to these kinds of questions.