At the start of February I was invited to participate in a future literacy workshop organized by the school of Communication, Media and IT in Milan. It was part of the Master of International Communication (MIC), with participants of the Geert Hofstede Consortium, and organized by Loes Damhof, Anet Doornbos, Elles Kazemier and Lilian Eggers in coordination with Unesco, represented by Kasper Nosarzewski, a foresight consultant from Poland. The workshop was developed based upon the grant Loes received as teacher of the year and is a pilot in a broader program that will be offered to other Master students at the Hanze University.
In this 2-day workshop we were challenged to position ourselves in 50 years time, where would our profession (international communication) be at that time, and what consequences will that have? In several steps we were taken in that future timeline, examining and revealing assumptions, by reflection, by contrasting and by imagination. Besides the 5 MIC students, colleagues of the IULM University and Leeds Becket University took part. The whole workshop was filmed by a professional crew, which made it even more special, especially in trying to act as normal as possible and trying to ignore the film crew.
So what is needed in international communication in 2057? What skills do we need by then? Will we have a personal robot assistant that will manage our agenda, communications and other tasks? Will we have world peace, or will diversity and inclusion still be discussed and argued? Do we need new business models to create this sustainable future? And what is our role as communication professional by then? The workshop is designed for a reflection on this, and helped us to manage our personal journey, but also our joint pathway as international communicators into this future.
Picture of my personal timeline
The diversity of the participants (age 20 – 65, 10 different nationalities) made that young students discussed with established professors and where people with diverse cultural background collaborated. We worked steadily through the tough questions and challenges, using a lot of post it papers and different rounds of discussions and reflections. The trainers forced you to come out of your comfort zone, which always does result in the best experiences. So what exactly do we need for sustainable communication? At the end we all were able to create our own pathway to the future but your own scenario changes by doing as such, so Future Literacy is an iterative process that innovates the current situation
The workshop can be used in different fields of study among different groups. Businesses most have a limited time frame to operate, so a workshop like this, can help them to make the real strategic decisions or challenge their current strategy. Especially for our students who have to find their way and start thinking about a career, this workshop can be of invaluable importance. It is not only about knowledge we teach during classes and what is written in textbooks, this workshop helps them in creating pathways for their own future. This future literacy workshop is for everyone an eye-opener and a very useful tool in shaping your own pathway and how we can use the future to shape the present. If you have ever the chance of participating: do!
Of course, the future is unpredictable, but this workshop surely helps to reduce some of the uncertainties involved with this. Help embrace true ambiguity and uncertainty, as the trainers themselves repeatedly added! This workshop is state of the art, innovative and thought provoking, Hanze University of Applied Sciences can be proud to be involved in this!
More information on this can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1QOxYMIFIc&feature=youtu.be
By Wim J.L. Elving, Professor of Applied Sciences, Lector Communication in the Sustainable Society