What a year it’s been! We’re living through some of the greatest social, political and environmental upheavals in decades as we grapple with a global pandemic, face off against endemic social injustice and inequity, and are reminded daily of the fragility of our relationship with the future.
And in the midst of all of this, we decided to launch a new college!
In some ways might have seemed like a crazy idea. Taking two existing schools and one new one, and bringing them under the umbrella of the ASU College of Global Futures — all at a time when we’re fighting fires on all sides — might have seemed foolish. And yet it has never been more important that we find new ways to transcend conventional ideas and ways of thinking as we face increasingly unconventional challenges in the world around us.
And this makes the College of Global Futures more necessary than ever.
It’s this merging of ideas and understanding to find novel pathways forward in complex times that is precisely what the new college enables us to do. And challenging as it seems — especially in the current times — it’s a step that the world needs right now.
And no-where is this better-reflected than in the skills, visions and ambitions of our graduates as they set out to play their part in building a more just, sustainable and vibrant future.
Today, we’re celebrating our graduating students in the first ever convocation of the ASU College of Global Futures. And despite everything that’s happening in the world at the moment, it’s an event that fills me with hope and makes me tremendously proud of our students for what they have already achieved, as well as what they will inevitably go on to do.
Our graduates are from three different schools, with three very different approaches to global futures. Our School of Sustainability graduates have a unique training in addressing global challenges and building a socially, economically and environmentally sustainable and resilient future. Our School for the Future of Innovation in Society graduates have a deeply integrated understanding of the complex dynamics between innovation and society, and the pitfalls than need to be navigated if we’re to build a better future together, as well as the incredible opportunities that are available to us if we think differently about the future. And our graduates from the School of Complex and Adaptive Systems have a powerful understanding of the complexity that defines our connections with the future, and how to use this to become more effective architects of the future.
Separately, the knowledge, insights and skills of our graduates from these schools are at the cutting edge of what’s needed to steer us toward futures that are better than the present. But it’s when they’re combined that we see the transformative power of what can be achieved through transdisciplinary thinking and actions that, while they draw on established disciplines and expertise, are not constrained by them.
And this is what gives me such hope as we congratulate and celebrate with the college’s first ever cohort of graduates, and send them on their way as informed, inspired and able builders of the future.
Professor Andrew Maynard, Associate Dean of Student Success