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New report from UNESCO IESALC presents findings from a public consultation on the futures of higher education

IESALC pathways

On 25 November, UNESCO International Institute for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (IESALC) launched its second report on the futures of higher education, Pathways to 2050 and beyond: Findings from a public consultation on the futures of higher education. The report, also available in Spanish, follows a global public consultation which took place between May and August 2021, collecting the hopes, concerns, ideas and suggestions in relation to higher education from 1,200 participants in almost 100 countries.

The findings from the consultation, detailed in this report, illustrate the rich diversity in people’s desires and concerns, advancing multiple ideas for higher education and its contributions to better futures for all. The plural concept of futures envisions a horizon both towards and beyond 2050 and encompasses the many ways that the futures might be.

Within the broad global diversity of responses, it was still possible to identify four shared pathways towards these futures: quality of life, social change, environmental care and development of technology.

The pathways were derived from the hopes expressed for human wellbeing, peace, social justice, research and innovation, sustainability, and advances in technology research. They were also drawn from issues that worry people for the future, from health concerns, poor quality of life, continuation of social inequalities and inequities, war and conflict, the degradation of the environment to unethical uses of technology.

The report connects the pathways to 2050 and beyond to respondents’ visions for higher education by offering more detailed insights on the different roles that higher education could play and the changes that might need to be made to achieve them.

This publication follows UNESCO IESALC’s earlier contribution to the UNESCO Futures of Education initiative, Thinking Higher and Beyond: Perspectives on the futures of higher education to 2050, published in May 2021. That report, also available in Spanish and French, presents findings from consultations organized by UNESCO IESALC with 25 higher education experts based around the world who have extensive experience in teaching, researching, and/or enacting higher education. It also questions common assumptions about higher education and its contributions, creating a bold series of possibilities for different – and better – futures for higher education for all. The next phase of the project is a youth consultation on the futures of higher education. 




We need to think together in order to act together and shape the futures we want!

The global consultation process is open !


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