World Futures Day – March 1, 2020 – Opportunity to Get Involved

Please note!!

Join 24-Hour Round-the-World Conversation to Celebrate World Future Day, Hosted by the Millennium Project

FEB 27, 2020

Join 24-Hour Round-the-World Conversation to Celebrate World Future Day, Hosted by the Millennium Project

Press Release (ePRNews.com) – WASHINGTON – Feb 27, 2020 – World Future Day is March 1. This will be the seventh year that futurists and the general public will conduct a 24-hour, round-the-world conversation on the future on March 1 at 12 noon in whatever time zone they are in. Each year, total strangers discuss ideas about possible worlds of tomorrow in a relaxed, open, no-agenda conversation. Futures research is shared, collaborations are created, and new friendships are made. 

The Millennium Project, a global foresight participatory think tank, will host this conversation on the future in collaboration with the Association of Professional Futurists (APF), Humanity+ UNESCO’s Global Futures Literacy Network, the World Academy of Art and Science (WAAS), and the World Futures Studies Federation (WFSF).

“Anybody can pull up a cyber-chair at this global table and join the discussion on ZOOM at: https://zoom.us/j/9795262723,” says Jerome Glenn, CEO of The Millennium Project. “Whatever time zone you are in, you are invited at 12:00 noon in your time zone. People drop in and out as they like. If people can’t come online at 12 noon, they are welcome to come online before or after that time as well.”

Each year, for the past six years, global thought leaders have shared their views about governing artificial intelligence, inventing future employment, building space elevators to orbital cities, reducing climate change, guaranteeing safe water and energy, fighting transnational organized crime, developing future forms of democracy, countering information warfare, incorporating global ethics in decisionmaking, enforcing safety standards for synthetic biology, and the future of humanity. Who knows what will be discussed this year? Comments can be added at #worldfutureday.

“This year, we will be joined by Vint Cerf, Internet Pioneer at 12 noon Brussels time,” according to Glenn.  

Members of the press are most welcome to join the conversation asking questions to this diverse group of future-oriented people; however, ​Chatham House Rule applies: you can quote, use material, but not cite the source. “So,” Glenn continues, “come online and join the conversation with others working to build a better future.”

Co-sponsoring organization contacts:

Association of Professional Futurists: Jay Gary jay@jaygary.com
Humanity+: President Natasha Vita-More, natasha@natashavita-more.com
UNESCO’s Global Futures Literacy Network: Riel Miller r.miller@unesco.org 
The Millennium Project: CEO Jerome Glenn, Jerome.Glenn@Millennium-Project.org
World Academy of Art and Science: Chairman, Gary Jacobs garry.jacobs@worldacademy.org
World Futures Studies Federation: President, Erik Ferdinand Overland, secretariat@wfsf.org

PRESS CONTACT: +1-202-669-4410 Jerome Glenn, The Millennium Project or email contacts for organizations above.
Source : The Millennium Project

Heres the link.

Big Ideas for Social Change Champions – Idea-Palooza!

I think inspiration matters. Where do our big ideas for change come from? Often they come from frustration or anxiety about things we see around us that we know should be different. Sometimes they come from history – and the lessons of those who advanced progress but didn’t yet “solve” the challenge. As scholar of social innovation (my dissertation back in the day was about macro level creativity and innovation in social work), I continue to be fascinated by how to build our inventory of innovation spaces that reflect our social work values, ethics and priorities. This is part of why a futures/foresight approach has been so valuable to me. These spaces are full of possibility. They can honor context, values, culture, history – but they inspire deeper types of questioning and more expansive ways to anticipate, explore and create with regard to what comes next, and building the requisite knowledge and power in co-creating the futures we want.

One of my favorite teaching/consulting tools is to look to “innovator” communities to scan and be nourished by good work going on in these circles. Looking through these kinds of links – refreshes my sense of how problems are framed and how solutions might be built. I’ve been building a list of some of my favorite “go to” spark-worthy sites and happy to share it here. What are some of your favorites? What inspires you? Has there ever been a more important time to reinforce our own and each other’s sense of hope and possibility for a better world?

Here’s the link!! Come explore!!

Recent Ideas from Twitter – Social Work Futures – February 26, 2020

This is part of a regular series of posts that track a few notable things I find on Twitter that reflect signals and/or futures thinking I think will be relevant to social workers and/or folks in higher education. You can view previous posts in this series here.

23rd World Futures Studies Federation Conference this September in Mexico City.

Here’s a link to explore one of the largest futures conferences in the world – this will the first held in Latin America. I’d love to go if I can make it happen – worth checking out just to see the extraordinary and global range and reach of futures thinking and applications.

Global Population News

The Pew Research Center published (in 2019) a piece about changes in global population which I think have not been widely noted in social work. “For the first time in modern history,” it states, “the world’s population is expected to virtually stop growing by the end of this century, due in large part to falling global fertility rates,” (Cillffo and Ruiz, 2019). This is a powerful signal about a variety of issues related to the future of humanity, the planet and more. Worth reading.

Social Workers Doing Important Future Facing Activities

It is a joy to get to know some social workers and social work academics who are active and advancing new approaches to stretch social work’s fluency and capacity to use new media, explore new frameworks and new approaches in our field. Here are a couple of examples!

Terrific article interviewing Dr. Desmond Patton, Social Work Faculty Member from Columbia University regarding data and context – including a window into his fascinating and innovative research.

Check out Dr. Courtney Cogburn’s appearance on this recent CBSN episode discussing her work in virtual reality and her VR film experience the “1000 Cut Journey” gives viewers an experience of racism throughout the life of a black boy and then man. Dr. Cogburn is a social work faculty member at Columbia University.

Dr. Melanie Sage, faculty member at University at Buffalo School of Social Work, was awarded an $800,000 grant from the National Science Foundation and Amazon to improve AI fairness in foster care.

A wide variety of notable future-linked articles on a range of topics in a recent issue of the journal Human Service Organizations: Management, Leadership & Governance focused on Navigating Complex Frontiers: Introduction to the Special Issue on “The Future of Human Service Organizational and Management Research.” Worth browsing – some excellent information here. Edited by Social Work faculty Drs. Bowen McBeath and Karen Hopkins.

Economies of the Future

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of hearing from and getting to know, economic historian turned ethnographer, Alexa Clay, from the Royal Society of Arts, who spoke about a National Geographic Project she’s been part of creating about “Misfit Economies.” She’s a remarkable speaker and creator of “sparks” in terms of innovative thinking and visioning. She got us all thinking some big creative thoughts about the future of the economy and the global signals that aren’t typically being tracked in what we discuss when we generally hear about this subject in the news. Take a look at the trailer for the film here.

This is a well-done article asking the question: who benefits from the emerging data economy? Short version: It’s pretty much what you expect, but will contribute to deeper and deeper economic disparities.

Climate Change

New report out from McKinsey and Company on climate change – physical hazards and socioeconomic impacts. (Thanks to Lakeya Cherry, MSW for sharing this with me.). Extensive information all very relevant to social work practice, research and macro planning/thinking in this area.

Neoliberalism

Regular readers of this blog know that a while ago, I did a deep dive on the topic of neo-liberalism as part of my desire to increase my own sense of current events and its relationship in particular to trends in higher education (as well as increasing austerity related to human services). You can view that survey here. Recently, I ran across this fine piece which I’ll add to that general overview. Very interesting piece with a historical lens on the issue of how and when neoliberalism “took hold” in the modern era and how it continues to erode human rights along the way.

Future of Work

I also enjoyed getting to hear from Maggie Wooll who is the Director of Research at the Deloitte Center for the Edge speak about the future of work recently. This report is among the most concise and clear overview of this topic I’ve run across recently – very helpful and offers numerous implications for social work as well as so many places and systems with whom we interact. The question of how the future of work will shake out is very much in process – it is up to all of us to jump in and advocate to assure it evolves in a way that creates just and equitable pathways for all.

The Future of Higher Education

This recent article by the BBC does a good job of providing an overview of the emerging push to increase “micro-credentials” and challenge traditional higher education inventories of offerings.

Here’s an interesting article describing changing faculty roles in medical education. I think they tackle some of the ecosystemic and institutional norms challenges well in terms of trying to articulate and intentionally modernize academic medical education. This has numerous implications for social work education:

Bellini, Lisa M MD; Kaplan, Brian MD; Fischel, Janet E. PhD; Meltzer, Carolyn MD; Peterson, Pamela MD; Sonnino, Roberta E. MD. (2020). The defintion of faculty must evolve: A call to action. Academic Medicine, available at this link. As academic medical centers and academic health centers continue to adapt to the changing landscape of medicine in the United States, the definition of what it means to be faculty must evolve as well. Both institutional economic priorities and the need to recalibrate educational programs to address current and future societal and patient needs have brought new complexity to faculty identity, faculty value, and the educational mission. (From the author abstract.)

Equity Work

I loved this article entitled “The Language of Anti-racism” and as I read it, I reflected on how much of this language is now part of “mainstream” discourse in social work and beyond. I reflected on how powerful it can be to introduce language that precisely names complex realities that are not widely understood and then observe how this naming process can change the world. Language as activism, language as power, language as the future – an anti-racist future requires a new way to talk about our world and what equity means. Here’s a good signal that this project is moving ahead. I’m imagining what the next iteration of this article might be 10 years from now, realizing that signals of its evolution are all around us, and hoping to play some small part in its emergence!

Artificial Intelligence

I have a couple of items here that are interesting and provocative – both surprised and intrigued me in the last few weeks.

This article proposes that the real measure of artificial intelligence is if it can admit when it doesn’t know something. Imagine!

These articles are focused on the work of Dr. Julia Mossbridge who is a fellow RWJF grantee and a cognitive neuroscientist. She’s an accomplished artifical intelligence expert and focused (currently) on the question of – can artificial intelligence experience love – and specifically, unconditional love. This will stretch your sensibilities in interesting ways – but check out her work here and here.

Clinical Matters

This is a concerning but illuminating article on the rise (and underworld) of the world on online therapy systems. Definitely relevant in our social work circles – should be discussed widely in our classes with special attention to the ethical compromises that are possible in these spaces. There are some really wonderful and well-developed services out there…but not all online supports and services are alike. Important read.

Pandemic

Obviously – news of the coronavirus is on most of our minds. If you haven’t seen the new Netflix series “Pandemic” – it might be a good time to catch up. Excellent overview. See the trailer here. Additionally the author of numerous books and recipient of several awards for her work on pandemics, Laurie Garrett has written this recent piece in Foreign Affairs to offer her analysis of our current level of readiness to address the impending health crisis related to this virus.

Hiring Social Work Faculty that are “Future Ready”

The term “future ready” is popular – one sees it frequently in day to day life. But what does it mean for social work faculty and for Ph.D./D.S.W. students currently intending to make higher education – and the preparation of the next generation of social workers their careers?

This past year, I had a number of occasions to explore this topic with faculty and a variety of doctoral students at various levels of their preparation. Given consideration – one can imagine that a brand new doctoral degree who is looking at a 30 year career ahead simply must assume disruption, complexity and challenge that is unprecedented in the history of the academy – and in social work. If I were hiring right now, I’d be looking for people have been thoughtful, analytic and curious about these types of dynamics and first and foremost – are committed to being rigorous lifelong learners.

I thought I’d share my developing ideas here in the blog. I welcome the opportunity to continue to develop these ideas – because of course the process of getting ready for what comes next is ALWAYS a work in progress and never really done.

High priority for “future ready” social work faculty:

  • Clear orientation towards a practice/research ecosystem that is undergoing significant and systemic turbulence.   A prospective future ready faculty member would have the analytic capacity to identify how these trends (economic, climate, migration,  technological and others) would impact vulnerable people now and in the future with related courses of research and/or practice to remedy/address without compromising social work values and ethics. An ability to articulate risks/opportunities in the future with regard to his/her/their practice area. 
  • Clear orientation towards a higher education ecosystem that is undergoing significant and systemic turbulence.  A prospective future ready faculty member would be prepared and engaged in efforts to simultaneously preserve important elements of the traditions of higher education with ideas, experiences and accomplishments that indicate capacity to participate in intentional systemic evolution without compromising social work values and ethics.
  • Skills related to educational, analytic and/or communication technology in higher education.  A demonstrated ability to positively contribute system-wide in this area.
  • Orientation towards “cognitive load management” given the influx of competing demands.   A prospective future ready faculty member would have skills and an ability to articulate how he/she/they manage competing demands and “noisy” educational/practice settings (given that this dynamic will likely increase not decrease in the future).
  • An ability to articulate and apply social work values and ethics in new kinds of practice challenges (e.g., artificial intelligence, increased use of technology) with a specific eye towards emerging and potentially ill-defined equity challenges of the future.    Orientation towards the need for and commitment to continuing to evolve social work ethics given 1 and 2 above.
  • Ability to articulate frameworks for and skills with 21st century equity work with developed sensibilities about how equity work will change in the future (esp. as related to technological and political variables) in both higher education and social work practice settings.  This may include but is not limited to concepts of “tech design justice.”
  • Ability to articulate plans for and articulate desire to manage going learning and personal career-long development with an understanding of, respect and passion for being impactful given 1 and 2 above.
  • Ability to span local to global (and back again) in new ways as the interconnectedness across geopolitical boundaries increases in the years to come.
  • Ability to work in interprofessional contexts and contribute meaningfully in interdisciplinary settings.

Special thanks to Dean Eddie Uehara and Dean Nancy Smyth for guidance and input on these ideas.

I’ve posted a PDF here if you’d like a copy of these ideas – and they are shared with a Creative Commons 4.0 license.

The Future of the Social Determinants of Health – An Eclectic and Transdisciplinary Scan of the Academic Literature – January 24, 2020

According to the World Health Organization, the social determinants of health are “the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. These circumstances are shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources at global, national and local levels. The social determinants of health are mostly responsible for health inequities – the unfair and avoidable differences in health status seen within and between countries.”

In preparation for deeper work in the new national Social Work Education Health Futures Lab – this preliminary review of the literature is shared. Our effort will seek to invite social work scholars to contribute to new ways of imaging and contributing to health equity and sharing them in the form of research, curriculum and scholarship. How will social work and social work education advance health equity in the future? That question will be our guiding star.

The goal of the linked review was to identify a beginning group of resources that mentioned social determinants of health along with concepts of the future, climate change, technology (including artificial intelligence, social media and other dimensions) along with an assortment of other concepts deemed related to futures or foresight.

Social work has made many contributions to health equity in the United States, and a few of them are included here. Our next challenge is to prepare for what comes next and how to navigate, shape and co-create a future in which health is respected as a human right and to which systems and supports to reinforce health for all is a reality. Social work education will do this by preparing a workforce that is ready and able to deliver this promise. This resource list will help to spark some ideas – but should not in any way limit our imaginations.

By its very nature, this review is eclectic, transdisciplinary and emergent. Pathways forward to building a more equitable health future will rely on our collective intelligence, imagination and agility – and will require us to look for new kinds of information and put it together in new ways. The academic literature will always be an is an imperfect and incomplete knowledge base – but it serves to give us a reference point and a place to find what our fellow social scientists have explored.

Updates and revisions will be forthcoming. I invite suggestions – so if you have ideas for good resources you think should be included, they are welcome.