World renowned futurist, Professor Sohail Inayatullah speaks about education as part of his video series: What Works in Futures Studies.

In his segment on the future of higher education, Inayatullah talks about moving from the standardized, disciplined, uniform “old model” of doing things, to looking at alternative futures.

Inayatullah notes that an educational model that may have been useful for factory workers will not work for the information age. According to Inayatullah, students need an education that helps them to become more creative and gives them the skills to understand the changing future – and helps them to invent alternative futures.

He gives some examples. His first involves a country that is considering changes to its university system. The question that was asked: “Do they still need professors who clock in and out, or would it be better for them to work from home?” And if they do, how would they then create communities? Knowledge is not only created through personal work, but also through interaction with others. The discussion focused on two issues:

  1. How to create communities outside of universities; and
  1. How to reinvent the process of teaching – something seen as important because students are already seeking ways to download, digest and synthesize information in new ways.

In another project, the question was different. It was around the future of their universities. In that discussion, it was identified that a core attribute of the university was around poverty alleviation. From there, the group started thinking about how to use this work as central to their mission and was able to agree that research would be an essential focus for them.

In the last example, Professor Inayatullah speaks about the design spaces in universities: questioning how these spaces can help to inspire students as well as academic faculty. He looks at how to redesign campuses into student-friendly (rather than just administration-friendly) spaces.

Inayatullah concludes by saying that the new model of thinking is not about one group seeing the future, but about multiple stakeholders seeing and creating it together.