Future visions 2030 – JAMK is curious for future scenarios of its students

Text: Juha Saukkonen, JAMK

“This non-growth philosophy is a marginal phenomenon, and – by the way – if it spreads we will be in trouble in here!”

“This way of living – if continued – will drive us all to very dangerous road for the future”

“These new X- and Y-generations have a different set of values than the previous ones”

There just some examples of phrases we hear around us almost on a daily basis, without giving too much attention to them. JAMK – Jyväskylän Ammattikorkeakoulu – has in its school of Business and Services Management been an active proponent to engage futures thinking and futures studies among the students on all levels.

Did you notice a small but important letter there?  Futures – a plural form. As there is not only one possible future, but a range of alternative futures. And which future will one day become a reality, can be affected by people taking action and making decisions on important issues in the societies, in companies and in their private lives.

And who are people who are at the driver´s seat year 2030? Quite right, they are those we see on our campuses today as students! With this picture in mind, JAMK launched a study project “Future Visions 2030” in spring 2012, with the aim of finding the scenarios of our students in issues of economic growth, ecological development and employment. More than 100 students from JAMK´s International Study Programs (= tuition fully in English) answered the survey. The results of this 1st round – since the target is to continue the study and see developments over time in the visions when the world around us keeps changing shape and new generations walk in from our doors – were presented in the conference of “Emerging futures and futurists” in Manoa, Hawaii in beginning of December last year. The presentation was held by the undersigned as project manager and undergraduate students Anne Lukkarinen, Vanessa Tran and Thu Dang – the two last ones over video.

The key research questions were:

  • How do the students of JAMK envision the state-of-things in year 2030 in terms of economy, sustainability and employment?
  • How are the different layers of future visions– personal, national and global development inter- or co-acting?
  •  Can we bring our undergraduate students to the picture as contributors to the process of future foresight – as researchers as well as informants?

Here the highlights of this study process and results, hope they give some food for thought also for you, dear reader.

  • Believe in economic non-growth/de-growth  is far from a marginal phenomenon
  • On personal level student rely on their abilities to limit or even downsize their usage of natural resources (even when their rising socio-economic status in the future raises opportunities of spending!!)
  • Students surveyed have serious doubts about the ability of nations and global community to make similar kind of limitations to use of natural resources – main doubts were raised based disability of governments to act for it and ways of governance in societies
  • Students have largely abandoned the idea of linear, steadily rising career paths. Instead the idea of multidimensional careers (has become the “default setting” in their career thinking Volatility in terms of employment and career development is the leading mental model. However, in some students groups the confidence to own career was far more positive than the view on the employment and career development in higher level – national or global. There still is belief in power of getting educated!
  • One target of the study was if doing futures research has an effect on the people doing it – in this case the emphasis was on the 3 undergraduate students and their nearest social circle. Was there an effect to their overall orientation to Futures Thinking, something that can be called a Meta-result/effect of the research performed?  This “halo-effect” was verified in the interviews – as a grown overall interest towards topics surveyed and Futures research as a domain

The larger abstract in awaiting publication in the Journal for Future Studies in March 2013, meanwhile do not hesitate to ask the undersigned the access to the material.

Last but not least: Have YOU got visions for 2030? What futures you have in mind? Are you following which one of them starts “unwrapping”?

When thinking about the futures, it might be good to keep in mind the “Dator´s 2nd law” about the futures.  Its creator, Jim Dator hosted the conference at Manoa – and created in late 60´s the first-ever University course on Future Studies.

Dator´s 2nd Law on Futures: “Every meaningful statement about Futures should appear to be ridiculous!” So wild, so different, so far out of the mid-way thinking, that it can nothing but attract our brains and hearts”. Let´s go and find or create those ridiculous statements!

Juha Saukkonen, JAMK
Senior Lecturer
juha.saukkonen[a]jamk.fi

 

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