Keri Facer

On Futures, Time and Listening: cultivating attention in an uncertain world

Keri Facer is Professor of Educational and Social Futures at the University of Bristol, UK where she leads the British Academy ‘Times of a Just Transition’ Programme and is Co-investigator on the ESRC Centre for Sociodigital Futures. Her research explores how formal and informal education can foster the imaginative and affective capabilities needed to understand, shape and respond to disruptive technological and environmental change.

Keri was previously Zennström Professor in Climate Change Leadership at Uppsala University, expert advisory group member of UNESCO’s Futures of Education Commission and Research Director at Futurelab. Amongst other projects, she is currently working with Black Mountains college to set up a new university dedicated to the challenge of creating good societies in a warming world and collaborating with the poverty charity, the Joseph Rowntree foundation, on their ‘imagination infrastructure’ programme. She is Editor-in-Chief of the journal Futures.

On Futures, Time and Listening: cultivating attention in an uncertain world

How we think about futures is, in large part, shaped by how we think about time; whether we see ourselves in an old story or a new one, heading to a moment of crisis or a turning point, in a moment of rapid disruption or the slow playing out of old patterns. Our temporal assumptions shape our perception of possibility, silently structuring our frames of reference and sense of agency. An important element in our capacity to understand each other and to coordinate ourselves in uncertain times depends, then, on our capacity to attune ourselves to the implicit assumptions about time and to the multitude of rhythms of life at play in any situation. Such attunement requires a renewed capacity for deep listening – to each other and to ourselves.

In this talk I will outline the relationship between futures, time and listening and make the case for listening - as a form of attunement to time and rhythm - as a useful starting point in opening up possibilities for collective understanding and mutual action. At a time when the UK government has removed ‘listening’ from the National Curriculum in England, and when both leadership and global citizenship are too often equated with raising our voices, I will explore how we might return mutual listening to the heart of formal and informal educational practices today.

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