PMU-UNESCO Chair in Future Studies

UNESCO Chair in Transitional and Inter-Generational Anticipation at Prince Mohammed Bin Fahd University

During the Second International Symposium of UNESCO Chairs in Futures Studies and Futures Literacy held on December 2021, The Symposium was launched with a ceremony marking the establishment o of the Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University UNESCO Chair in “Transitional and Inter-generational Anticipation", Chaired by PMU’s President, Dr. Issa AlAnsari.

Madam Gabriela Ramos, Assistant Director General of UNESCO Social and Human Science Sector, expressed her congratulations to Dr. AlAnsari for the establishment of Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University UNESCO Chair in “Transitional and Inter-generational Anticipation”, and how this represents a landmark in research and teaching for Futures Literacy across generations, in addition to the positive impact it will have on the field.

In essence, the PMU UNESCO Chair is intended to foster a community of lifelong learners of anticipatory systems and processes as the sources of the imagined futures that shape what people see and do. The Chair will contribute to applied and theoretical research, innovative pedagogy, and outreach activities to policy-makers, scholars, and practitioners. The intent of this Chair is to inspire a culture of informed ‘use-of-the-future’ throughout society. The Chair’s work will be informed by the extant literature on cognitive science, social sciences, statistical modeling, and education, and by a wealth of experience in scholarly, educational, and policy-making activities.

The Chair will commit to research, learning, and community-engagement activities as part of a PMU-UNESCO partnership devoted to the following tasks:
  1. Research into the anticipatory systems and processes that generate images of the future, with a particular focus on the origins and impact of such images in the context of transitional change and inter- and intra-generational relationships.
  2. Promotion of Futures Literacy as a competency through a range of learning processes (e.g., degree programs and life-long learning) of relevance across a wide range of communities, including government, business and civil society.
  3. Dissemination of findings to ensure a sustainable foundation of knowledge and skills in Futures Literacy inside and outside KSA. Priorities will include Futures Literacy training of undergraduate and graduate students and other selected constituencies, as well as the exchanges of findings and lessons learned with other scholars, practitioners, and policymakers inside and outside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), through national, regional, and international meetings and other gatherings.

The work of the UNESCO Chair is part of PMU’s focus on the quality of education (Goal 4), one of the key UNESCO Sustainable Development Goals. Accordingly, the Chair will promote inclusive and equitable quality education with the goal of fostering lifelong learning opportunities for all. Proposed activities target innovative approaches to Goal 4 that are expected to be generated by the Chair’s basic and applied research into inter-generational and transitional anticipatory systems and processes.

The project outlined above, including all its activities, will contribute to the development of scholarly activities, inter-disciplinary exchanges, and the implementation of educational practices that benefit directly KSA and neighboring countries. Benefits will be measurable. Namely, the quality of theoretical and practical knowledge and skills acquired by key constituencies (i.e., students, scholars, and practitioners) will be assessed by means of self-reports and objective performance tests. In addition, the Chair’s plan regarding dissemination of knowledge will generate benefits not only in the Middle East, but also other regions of the world. The rationale for the development and dissemination of knowledge is to guarantee a sustainable future for all.

Although the activities (research, teaching, and learning) of the project rely on KSA as the focal point of data collection and testing of models, they are formulated with a broader and inclusive perspective in mind. Namely, the ultimate goal is to assess the extent to which particular contextualized anticipatory systems and processes are unique to a particular population or generalize to other contexts. Reaching these goals will be the fruit of collaborative efforts, working closely with the Global Futures Literacy Network and the already established UNESCO Chairs in Futures Studies/Futures Literacy. The Chair will organize partnerships with institutions of higher learning as well as initiate regional and international colloquia. Through local outreach to policy-makers, scholars, and practitioners, as well as collaboration with participating institutions, the PMU UNESCO Chair hopes to benefit other societies in transitions beyond the Middle East.

Specific Objectives

The Chair will explore the following questions:
  1. What are the anticipatory systems and processes that enable men and women across all ages and in a society in transition (observer perspective) to imagine the future?
  2. What are the images of the future that men and women conceive, not only as individuals, but also as members of a group in a society in transition (actor perspective)?
  3. What are the relationships between anticipation and decision-making amongst Middle Eastern men and women of different generations? Are the attributes that anticipation/choice models and relationships possess unique (i.e., context-dependent) or general (context-independent)? How do existing models address transitional and inter-generational dynamics?
  4. To what extent do anticipatory systems and processes play a role in current perceptions of the present and future across generations of men and women?

Type of Activities

  1. Research. The Chair’s research activities will focus on the contextualized theory and practice of anticipation across generations and within a society in transition.
  2. Short-term training. Futures Literacy labs will be offered (see schedule of major activities) to faculty, students, practitioners, and other interested constituencies. These learning activities will deploy action-learning and meaningful learning (Novak, 2010), including culturally sustaining pedagogy (Ladson-Billings, 2015; Paris, 2012). Advertisements inside and outside PMU will ensure that participants will be diverse in their current occupation and age.
  3. Scholarships. An undergraduate scholarship and a graduate scholarship will be offered to meritorious students who wish to pursue training and perhaps a career in Futures Studies. The Chair will create a committee of faculty who will advise the program in its outreach activities and in the selection of candidates.
  4. Institutional development. The Chair will promote the collection and dissemination of Futures Literacy texts for the library, in CORE courses, and courses related to existing majors and to Futures Literacy Laboratories.
  5. Visiting professorships. The Chair will identify suitable candidates on an as-needed basis. The aim is to add to the strengths of PMU knowledge and skill base in Futures Literacy.

The UNESCO Chair in Transitional and Inter-Generational Anticipation project will be managed by the Center for Futuristic Studies at PMU. The Center will conduct research and teaching in collaboration with partners from the Global Futures Literacy Network and will deploy specialized and innovative tools, such as Futures Literacy Laboratories, in order to conduct advanced research and education related to transitional and inter-generational anticipation.

UNESCO Chairs International Symposium in Futures Studies and Futures Literacy