MLW:Foresight in the University

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Foresight in the University is a workshop to be organized in Bucharest (Romania), between September 29th and October 1st, 2010. The event was dedicated to the launching of a “Blueprint for Organizing Foresight in Universities”. This is the result of the work done by a group of experts as part of their contribution to the project Quality and Leadership for Romanian Higher Education.



Let’s ponder on the meaning of the word “blueprint” in the context of "foresight" and "higher education". It surely cannot designate a how-to guide, or some sort of substitute for foresight manuals. The reader cannot expect to execute a prescribed set of steps and then end up with a ready-made foresight process for his university. At the same time, we expect that the reader is someone beyond the narrow borders of the futurists’ community. Hence, this “blueprint” also cannot be academic work, geared towards an academic audience. And it cannot be just another report, such as the “blueprints” for regional foresight produced by the European Commission.

The “Blueprint” is supposed to be a tool that can be used in order to generate foresight processes in universities. But what does it mean “foresight processes in universities”? Does this even make sense? After all, universities are institutionalized organizations, not strategic units. They do not allocate resources according to priorities, at least when it comes to educational activities. So, there is no point in producing lists of priorities on the long-term. And what about identifying long-term implications of decisions that might be taken today? Surely, those impacts will be withstood by the community at large and only indirectly by the university itself.

The “Blueprint” does not offer universal answers to these questions. Instead, it helps the reader find her/his own answers while developing the foresight process for her/his university. And this is the whole point for the foresight process, to uncover answers to this kind of questions.




20.00 - 21:00 Initial meeting and Reception
A welcome speech by Adrian Curaj
Introducing the Blueprint for Organizing Foresight in Universities by Dan Grosu


9:00 - 09:30 Quality and Leadership for Romanian Higher Education
Adrian Curaj, President of the National Authority for Scientific Research from Romania
Radu Gheorghiu, Assistant Manager of the QLHE project

9:30 - 10:45 Main challenges facing the future of higher education
Alain Michel, Group Futuribles

Higher education must take into account the possible alternative futures in order to make every student aware of the consequences of some current trends in order to be able to have some impact on the course of events. It is why in a way foresight – or forward-looking activities (FLA) – can be regarded as the opposite of fatalism and resignation.

9:30 - 10:00 Alain Michel presentation
10:00 - 10:15 Panel contributions
10:15 - 10:45 Questions, answers, comments

10:45 - 11:15 Break

11:15 - 12:30 Systemic foresight methodology
Ozcan Saritas, Manchester Institute of Innovation Research

Systemic Foresight is a new methodological approach for looking into the complex web of societal, technological, sustainability issues, making sense of them through studying their relationships, developing alternative and desirable models of the future, with the ways of achieving them through behavioral and structural transformations.

11:15 - 11:45 Ozcan Saritas presentation
11:45 - 12:00 Panel contributions
12:00 - 12:30 Questions, answers, comments

12:30 - 14:00 Lunch Break

14:00 - 15:15 Looking for inspirational studies
Pierre Rossel, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne

The purpose is to identify cases which may resemble the type of studies we intend to carry out using this Blueprint for Organizing Foresight in Universities or at least allow us to capture inspirational ideas on the kind of channels, features and solutions envisaged which could prove to be useful for our own goal.

14:00 - 14:30 Pierre Rossel presentation
14:30 - 14:45 Panel contributions
14:45 - 15:15 Questions, answers, comments

15:15 - 15:45 Break

15:45 - 17:00 Foresight-aware strategic management
Ilkka Tuomi, Oy Meaning Processing Ltd.

Universities often find themselves implementing unintended strategies. Universities are among the most robust social institutions existing today. Even when organizationally new, they typically copy and replicate standard models, structures, and processes that embed centuries of experience on how learning and research happen, how universities interact with their social and economic environment, and how the creation and diffusion of knowledge is best organized.

15:45 - 16:15 Ilkka Tuomi presentation
16:15 - 16:30 Panel contributions
16:30 - 17:00 Questions, answers, comments


9:00 - 10:15 Which anticipatory system for university foresight?
Riel Miller, Science-Po Paris

As the university changes and the society in which it functions also changes, there are people who ask the question: how should the university change? Generally these people, some of whom feel responsible for what happens, want to answer this question because they want the university to serve a specific purpose. They believe that the university should change in ways that make for a better future for the university and, usually, for society as well. As a result, in order to think about how the university should change they need to think about what the future might be like. This is where foresight comes in and the question of which anticipatory system to use to think strategically about the future.

9:00 - 9:30 Riel Miller presentation
9:30 - 9:45 Panel contributions
9:45 - 10:15 Questions, answers, comments

10:15 – 10:45 Break

10:45 - 12:30 Identifying key elements of the university’s agenda

Five break-out groups (facilitated by each one of the panel’s members) discuss and map the issues against the initial topography of a foresight process in the university presented during the previous day.

12:30 Lunch and Conclusion of the Event

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