How to overcome 21st century illiteracies. Towards establishing innovation and future-oriented skills and mindsets in higher education
Are we prepared for the challenges of a world that is characterized by rapid technological and digital transformation, disruptive change, platform economies and ecosystems, as well as high levels of uncertainty, complexity, unpredictability, and ambiguity (“VUCA world”)? In most cases, our current educational systems do not equip students with essential skills for dealing with these challenges, especially in the fields of change, innovation, and making our organizations and societies future-ready. This has led to what we refer to as "three forms of 21st century illiteracies". These forms of illiteracy can be observed both on an individual/cognitive and an organizational level; they do not only concern skills, but are actually rooted in attitudes, mindsets, corporate cultures, and embodied rituals. We will show how these forms of illiteracy can be overcome by going beyond classical higher/continuing education learning outcomes, educational settings, etc. As these changes are not so much about technological knowledge or skills, we will focus on mindsets, epistemological attitudes, such as giving up control, and our capacities of dealing with uncertainty and complexity. The goal is to enable learners to engage in an alternative approach to knowledge creation and innovation that follows a strategy of “learning from the future as it emerges”. We will discuss theoretical aspects and practical cases as well as implications for nurturing innovation skills and mindsets in higher education.
Markus F. Peschl is professor of Cognitive Science and Innovation at the University of Vienna. His focus of research is on the emergence of novelty (“Emergent Innovation”), 4E-approaches in cognitive science, future-driven organizational design, and on (organizational) enabling environments (“Enabling Spaces”) that are fostering knowledge and innovation work. He is co-founder of the Living Core Innovation- and Knowledge Architects and has published more than 150 articles and six books.
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