Some of the greatest minds in industry, academia and civil society converged in Dubai for an intensive 3 day retreat to co-create and co-design the pathfinder’s journey and learning experience at the University of the Future.
There have been many recent publications addressing the necessity of a transdisciplinary mode of learning that helps break silos and fuse new fields of opportunities rather than disciplines. In a recent issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education, Professor Elaine Ecklund of Rice University suggests “it may be necessary to abandon disciplines in order to think beyond old boundaries” (2019). She claims the problems universities are asked to solve all tend to lie between disciplines. But Universities, organized into disciplines that are siloed from one another for budgetary reasons, can find it hard to embrace transdisciplinary.
The University of the Future has an ambitious vision, where pathfinders (learners) can live for a purpose higher than themselves. They develop a growth mindset and a lifelong learning habit to always explore challenges faced by our global society and seek the skills and transdisciplinary knowledge necessary to solve those challenges. This can only be achieved through living the University’s culture of transdisciplinary, co-creation, collective action and human centeredness.
The retreat began with some inspiring talks from the diverse group of participants that included CEO’s and partners who shared their experiences and how their organizations align with the vision of the University of the Future. Adama Sanneh, Co-founder and CEO of the Moleskine Foundation spoke about how his organization helps young people identify their strengths, weaknesses and potential so they can build upon it to achieve their purpose. Hamza Chraibi, CEO of Arab Excellence shared how his organization provides underprivileged youth in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) with the training, inspiration, network and mentorship needed to help them realize and reach their full personal and professional potential, in addition to using role models from across the Arab world to inspire and motive them. While Sarmad Khan, Head of Office and Senior Advisor from the UN reinforced the need to adapt mindsets and behaviors to address the global challenges that we are faced with today.
Participants then worked in groups to discuss, challenge, test and validate the proposed model while also addressing the current challenges faced by students and society and the impending impact of emerging technologies. There was lots of brainstorming, creativity and moments of discovery that led to a very enriching and successful outcome.