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Review: 2011 state of the future

Book: 2011 state of the future
Authors: Jerome C. Glenn, Theodore J. Gordon, and Elizabeth Florescu
Publisher: The Millennium Project (August, 2011)

Released last week, the Millennium Project’s 2011 state of the future report contains a sobering warning that:

The world is getting richer, healthier, better educated, more peaceful, and better connected and people are living longer, yet half the world is potentially unstable. Food prices are rising, water tables are falling, corruption and organized crime are increasing, environmental viability for our life support is diminishing, debt and economic insecurity are increasing, climate change continues, and the gap between the rich and poor continues to widen dangerously.

The annual State of the future series taps into an expert panel of 40 “nodes” (groups of futurists or organizations), and engages them in a modified Delphi process to identify trends, challenges, and consequences that impact our planet’s future. This year’s report includes special focus on:

  • Egypt 2020
  • Future arts, media, and entertainment
  • Latin America 2030
  • Environmental security

The authors wrap-up with a cautious assessment that the consequences of the tremendous transformations we are experiencing in the 21st century require new leadership:

Ridiculing idealism is shortsighted, but idealism untested by the rigors of pessimism can be misleading. The world needs hardheaded idealists who can look into the worst and best of humanity to create and implement strategies of success. (p. 106)

While the authors produce their own conclusions, they also encourage readers to create and share their own ideas about the future. As in previous editions, the accompanying CD-ROM contains a treasure trove of thousands of pages of outputs from the Millennium Project since it began in 1996. Spread over 8,500+ pages, the digital supplement reflects the spread and depth of the Millennium Project’s ambitions with forecasts and discussions that span from near-term to ultra-long-term futures. This rich resource in itself makes the book’s $49.95 purchase price a bargain, and a necessitates inclusion in any trend watcher, policymaker or futurist’s library.


Note: The authors provided a copy of this book for review. Please read our review policy for more details on how we review products and services.

Obama: Education is a national security issue

In this video from The UpTake forwarded to Education Futures from Bring Me the News, President Obama speaks on the relationship between education and national competitiveness (you can skip the introductions and jump to his talk which begins around 6:20 into the video):

President Obama: “So make no mistake: Our future is on the line. The nation that out-educates us today is going to out-compete us tomorrow. To continue to cede our leadership in education is to cede our position in the world. That’s not acceptable to me and I know it’s not acceptable to any of you. And that’s why my administration has set a clear goal: to move from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math education over the next decade.”

Okay, so science and math education are important, but isn’t building a creative and innovative workforce important, too? Can we create a “race to the top” for creating meaningful innovations in education?

A positive nod to Blackboard

I received a call this afternoon from a third-party developer who confirmed the Blackboard Beyond Initiative is working aggressively on a fix for the critical flaw in its SafeAssign product reported at EF on Tuesday. The good news is that student data is no longer being distributed into the wild. This is a huge gain for students and faculty concerned about privacy.

The quick turnaround on this issue merits extra credit. In the interim, SafeAssign’s grade gets changed to an “Incomplete” until the fix is released.