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Webinars on the Futures of Humanity and the Planet: Learning to Become

The current global pandemic has changed anticipated futures across the globe. The COVID-19 crisis is both world-shattering and world-makingthere is a widely shared sense that humanity is at a defining moment for rethinking the future.

Reflection on probable/anticipated and possible/alternative futures is well underway within UNESCO’s Futures of Education: Learning to Become initiative and this series of webinars further explores the possible deep and fundamental transformations in how societies, politics, economies and even cultures may be organized in the future.

Surfacing ideas and debates
to reimagine development, knowledge and learning
in a world of profound transformations.

Upcoming webinars

  • Citizenship and Participation (in Spanish)

    • On September 30 

  • Knowledge Production, Access and Governance (in Spanish)

    • On October 27 or 28

  • Work and Economic Security (in Spanish)

    • On November 24 or 25

Coming soon

Past webinars

Tuesday 8th of September 2020, (5 pm, GMT/UTC +3)

The virtual round table "Digital Technologies and Futures of Education", co-organized by UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education and UNESCO’s Education Research and Foresight Programme, focused on lessons learnt broadly from the COVID-19, opportunities and risks of technification of education, new competencies and models of their shaping. A certain number of leading Russian experts gathered to explore ongoing and emerging fundamental transformations in education which will impact society, politics, economy and culture and lead to further economic, technological and socio-cultural changes.

Panelists included Mr Kirill Barannikov (Vice-Rector for Development, Moscow City Pedagogical University), Ms Lyubov Dukhanina (Chair, National Nuclear Research University; Member of the State Duma of the Russian Federation), Mr Isak Froumin (Head, Institute of Education, State Research University – Higher School of Economics), Mr Pavel Luksha (Professor, Moscow School of Management Skolkovo), Ms Marina Rakova (Vice-President of Sberbank, Head of Digital Education Platform Division), Mr Alexander M. Sidorkin (Dean, College of Education, California State University, Sacramento) and Mr Artem Soloveichik (Editor-in-Chief, Publishing House “Pervoye Sentyabrya”).


Wednesday 2nd September, 11h (Santiago de Chile time)

We are at a crucial moment in tackling one of the greatest challenges of our time: climate change. Climate change poses serious risks to all societies globally. However, these risks are unevenly distributed, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable groups, such as indigenous peoples, local communities, and the inhabitants of rural areas and island territories. 

This webinar was the first one of a series of four online dialogues co-organized by the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean and Fundación Santillana, and it started with the topic Human and Planetary Sustainability. To tackle this important matter, various panelists took part in the discussion, including Ms. Tarcila Rivera Zea, Executive Director, Centro de Culturas Indígenas del Perú and member of the International Commission on the Futures of Education; Ms. Lola Huete Machado, Director of Planet Future (Diario El País); Bernardo Toro, philosopher and advisor of the Presidency of Fundación Avina, and Enrique Leff, from the Instituto de investigaciones sociales UNAM.


Thursday 27 August, 11am (Brasilia time)

How to promote citizenship and participation from and through education? How can education encourage the participation of students and other members of the school community? Brazilian educator Anísio Teixeira (1900-1971), who celebrated his 120th birthday in July this year, recalled that the school is a place where one lives: it is at school that the first steps are taken to build citizenship, by participating in activities that require dialogue, respect for differences and rules of coexistence. 

This webinar is the second one of a series of four online dialogues co-organized with UNESCO Brasília, the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean, and Fundación Santillana. Four panelists tackled this important matter during the webinar: Antonio Nóvoa – Ph.D. in Education, Member of the International Committee on the Futures of Education; Gina Vieira Ponte de Albuquerque – Teacher in Basic Education from Education Secretariat of Federal District; Diego Caligari – Representing Civil Society; Neca Setubal – Sociologist, GIFE President (a group of Foundations, Institutes, and private organizations) and, Tide Setubal Foundation ( Educational foundation).


13 August 2020, 11 am - 12.30 pm (Brasília time)

What role does education play in assuming collective and collaborative responsibility in relation to ecology and the promotion of sustainable living on the planet? How can human capacities be directed towards improving the quality of human life, while respecting the ecosystems that sustain them? To these general issues, it is necessary to add the specific perspective of Brazil, a continental country and responsible for one of the largest and most important forests on the planet, composed of a wide ethnic and cultural diversity.

This webinar, focusing on Human and Planetary Sustainability, is the first one of a series of four online dialogues co-organized with UNESCO Brasília, the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean, and Fundación Santillana. Cristovam Buarque, Emeritus Professor at the University of Brasília and member of the International Commission, facilitated the discussion between Célia Xacriabá, indigenous teacher and activist; Marina Silva, teacher, environmentalist and politician; and Ricardo Abramovay, sociologist and professor of the Environmental Science program.


16 June 2020, 12pm - 2pm (Beirut time), 1pm - 3pm (UAE time)

UNESCO Regional Bureau for Education in the Arab States (UNESCO Beirut), in partnership with UNESCO HQ and the Regional Center for Educational Planning (RCEP), organized on 16 June 2020 an Arab Region Dialogue on the Future of Education after COVID-19. The webinar aimed to examine the impact of COVID-19 on educational continuity in the Arab region, to reflect on the lessons learnt from the challenges faced during the COVID-19 crisis as we look to the futures of education, as well as to explore plans and strategies proposed to frame the vision of education after COVID-19.

The event was attended by high-level personalities including H.E. Hussain Ibrahim Al Hammadi, UAE Minister of Education, UNESCO Beirut Director Dr Hamed al Hammami, RCEP Director Dr Mahra AlMutawiei, and Dr Sobhi Tawil, Chief of Section for Education Research and Foresight at UNESCO HQ; it has been followed by 500 participants online.

A full, 30-page synthesis report on the webinar is available here.


20 May 2020, 15h00-16h00 (Paris time)

What deep and fundamental transformations are possible for the future organization of societies, politics, economies, and even cultures?  What role can education play to facilitate these transformations? The current global pandemic has changed anticipated futures around the world. With the COVID-19 crisis there is a widely shared feeling that humanity is at a decisive moment and can rethink the future. This 20 May 2020 Francophone webinar centered around the possible fundamental societal, political, economic and cultural transformations and their impact on education.

Panelists were UNESCO Assistant-Director General for Education, Stefania Giannini and three members of the International Commission on the Futures of Education, former President of Latvia Vaira Vike-Freiberga, the president of the Arab Institute for Human Rights Abdelbasset Ben Hassen and António Nóvoa, current ambassador of Portugal to UNESCO. 

FR Webinar

Click here to view the full recording of the webinar (in French)

20 April 2020, 11h00-12h30 (Santiago time)

The repercussions and consequences produced by the global pandemic have highlighted the increasingly pressing need to rethink the probable, possible and alternative futures that humanity could face, including the futures of education.

This webinar, co-organized with the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean and Fundación Santillana, addressed issues related to the importance and relevance of formal education that is taught in the traditional school environment, the participation of fathers, mothers and communities, and its change during the health pandemic, the future of distance learning and its role in the transformation of education and in the fight against growing inequalities in educational opportunities.

Three members of the International Commission on the Futures of Education sparked the conversation with over 800 attendees: Elisa Guerra, founder of Colegio Valle from Philadelphia in Mexico; Tarcila Rivera, Executive Director of the Center for Indigenous Cultures of Peru; and. Antonio Nóvoa, current ambassador of Portugal to UNESCO.


24 March 2020 15h00-16h30 (Paris time)

The fact that we live in a world of increasing complexity, uncertainty, and precarity has become undeniably evident because of the COVID-19 crisis.  Events around the globe are being shifted online, including a 24 March keynote panel that was to be held at the Comparative and International Education Society’s (CIES) annual conference in Miami.

Four members of the International Commission on the Futures of Education took part in the discussion with the audience: Arjun Appadurai, Professor, New York University, and Hertie School (Germany); Fernando M. Reimers, Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education (USA); Karen Mundy, Professor, Ontario Institute for the Study of Education (Canada) and António Nóvoa, Ambassador of Portugal to UNESCO.

Though all four panelists spoke at length about the dangers and uncertainties that the current global health crisis presents, there was also firm agreement that this is a potent moment of great opportunity as well. 




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Education Research and Foresight Programme


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