September 21-23, 2015, Inter-University Centre, Dubrovnik, Croatia
Education is the most remarkable technology so far invented by human beings. It is humanity’s instrument for conscious social evolution. Education abridges the time required for individual and social progress by preserving and propagating the essence of human experience. It delivers to youth the accumulated knowledge of countless past generations in an organized and abridged form, so that future generations can start off with all the capacities acquired by their predecessors.
We live in an educational time warp. There is a growing gap between contemporary human experience and what is taught in our educational system. It takes time to digest experience, consciously interpret and organize that experience as new knowledge, equip instructors with that knowledge and pass it on to youth. Today humanity confronts challenges of unprecedented scope, magnitude and intensity. The incremental development of educational content and pedagogy in recent decades has not kept with the ever-accelerating pace of technological and social evolution. Education is also subject to a generational time warp resulting from the fact that many of today’s teachers were educated decades ago during very different times and based on different values and perspectives. This challenge of preparing youth for the future is exasperated by the fact that the future for which we are educating youth does not yet exist and to a large extent is unknown or unknowable. The resulting gap between the content of education and societal needs inhibits our capacity to anticipate and effectively respond to social problems.
Education is part of the problem. As it is widely practiced around the world today, it still largely functions according to a model of pedagogy that predates the invention of the printing press and relies on a delivery system that predates the telegraph, telephone, motion pictures, radio, television and the Internet. It still emphasizes memorization of fact at a time when the ordinary smart phone provides instantaneous access to more information than any individual has ever committed to memory. It still fosters passive submission and obedience to authority at a time when the world needs individuals with the self-reliance, initiative and problem solving capabilities to fashion new solutions rather than merely regurgitate old ones. It still emphasizes getting the ‘right’ answers to questions based on prevailing theories when developing the capacity to ask the right questions may be of far greater adaptive value. It prepares youth for increasingly scarce salaried jobs rather than imparting the capacity to create new jobs through self-employment and entrepreneurship. It still fosters a highly competitive, individualistic mode of learning in a network society where cooperation and teamwork are the principal mode of work. It still fosters highly specialized, compartmentalized knowledge within narrow disciplinary fields at a time when the most serious problems issue from complex interactions between different fields of activity.
Education is our best hope for a better future. Emergence of a new paradigm in education can radically abridge the time required for humanity to address critical issues related to economy, governance, ecology and life-style. Education is the best known instrument for ensuring universal human rights, promoting democracy, enhancing productivity and protecting the environment. It is also the most effective means for fostering the capabilities of openness, adaptability, independent thinking, creativity, innovation, leadership and individuality so desperately needed to enlighten our economic, political, intellectual and cultural behavior.
There is urgent need to evolve a new paradigm in education appropriate to the needs of the 21st century. Closing the gap between social needs and educational capabilities is essential for addressing pressing challenges confronting humanity today. A review of education today makes evident that there is enormous scope for improving and developing the educational system. Whatever its current limitations in terms of inadequate coverage, quality and content, the means and potential exist for dramatically enhancing humanity’s individual and collective performance in virtually all spheres of our social existence by realistic, achievable improvements in education. We need a new paradigm in education capable of more fully and effectively developing the latent capacities of our youth.
The objective of the Dubrovnik meeting was to examine key issues that need to be addressed in order to evolve a more effective form of future-oriented higher education. The outcomes of this meeting will be used to design a new post-graduate level course on Future Education.
Pierre Antoine Barraillé Financial Engineering; President of Praneo
Stefan Brunnhuber Psychiatry. Medical Director and Chief Medical Officer, Diakonie Hospital, Germany; Vice-Chairman of the European Institute of Health; Fellow, WAAS
Keri Facer Education. Professor of Educational and Social Futures, University of Bristol, UK; Fellow, WAAS
Heitor Gurgulino de Souza Education. President, WAAS and WUC; Former Rector, United Nations University; Former Secretary-General, IAUP
Erich Hoedl Economics. Vice-President, European Academy for Sciences and Arts; Former Rector, Wuppertal University and Graz University of Technology; Fellow, WAAS
Zlatko Lagumdzija Computer Science: Former Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Hercegovina; Professor of Competitiveness and Information Technology, University of Sarajevo; Fellow, WAAS
Olga Melykh Finance. Lecturer, National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy; President of the Association “Young Generation will Change Ukraine”, Bohdan Hawrylyshyn Charitable Foundation, Ukraine
Winston Nagan Law; Chairman of the Board, WAAS; Professor of Law, University of Florida; Director, WUC
Stephen Yong-Seung Park Education. Dean, Office of International Affairs; Professor of Human Resource Management, Kyung Hee University, South Korea
Janani Ramanathan Literature. Associate Fellow, WAAS; Senior Research Analyst, The Mother’s Service Society
Ivo Šlaus Physics; Honorary President, WAAS; Vice Chair of IUC Council; Dean, Dag Hammarskjold University College of International Relations and Diplomacy, Zagreb: Director, WUC
Tibor Tóth Nuclear Disarmament; Ambassador, Executive Secretary Emeritus, Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization PC
Sesh Velamoor Management & Strategy. Executive Director, Foundation For the Future, USA; Former President at Kistler-Morse Corporation, USA; Fellow, WAAS
Alberto Zucconi Psychology; President, Person-Centered Approach Institute, Italy;
Member of the Board of Trustees, WAAS;
Secretary General, WUC