UNESCO appoints USC academic to envision future

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UNESCO appoints USC academic to envision future


Published on 25 July 2016

A University of the Sunshine Coast adjunct professor whose job is to analyse future scenarios across countries and industries has been appointed Chair on Future Studies with UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation).

Professor Sohail Inayatullah, who lives at Mooloolaba part of the year and also works at Tamkang University in Taiwan, is Australia’s seventh UNESCO Chair. He joins two global Chairs related to future studies, in Italy and Finland.

He said he was delighted at the prestigious position, which will be based at the Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia for at least four years and will involve institutions in Malaysia, the Asia-Pacific, North America and other countries.

“UNESCO Chairs cover a wide range of fields such as physics, astronomy and education. This new role recognises my work and the importance of future studies at a global level,” said Professor Inayatullah.

“At the moment we are planting seeds about how to use foresight in decision-making. I want this to evolve into a foresight ecology that uses futures thinking as the ‘norm’.

“Big issues such as climate change and technology disruption can benefit from futures thinking. The aim is to devise long-term policy solutions and good governance for future generations by preparing people, businesses, communities and nations for transitions to different types of futures.”

Professor Inayatullah’s expectations of radical change in global education over the next 15 years were recently published in USC’s 20th anniversary celebration book, ‘Visions’.

His intriguing piece for the book was titled, ‘How well do you get along with your robot? Automation and our Jobless Futures’.

He said the benefits of the UNESCO appointment could easily spread to the Sunshine Coast, from encouraging PhD research at USC to helping the region tackle likely problems.

His current projects include counter-terrorism scenarios and strategies, the futures of refugees in Geneva, partnering in international development in London, and city futures in Johore Bahru, Malaysia.

The UNITWIN (Twinning and University Networking)/UNESCO Chairs Programme was launched in 1992 to promote international inter-university cooperation to enhance knowledge sharing.

According to its website, the program now involves more than 120 countries. Institutions pool their resources to address societal challenges. The chairs often serve as bridge builders between academia, civil society, local communities, research and policy-making.

Professor Inayatullah features in ‘The Next Big Things’ chapter of USC’s ‘Visions’ book. For further information go to the USC website www.usc.edu.au/story or contact the Co-op Bookshop at usc@coop.com.au

— Julie Schomberg

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