Everyone in our society is affected by enormous uncertainty with regard to their future. On the one hand it is becoming increasingly difficult to plan one’s own (professional) future; on the other hand the ecological balance of the earth is under constant threat. These problems are especially pressing for young people who are just reaching the end of their schooling.“What do I want to do? What can I do? Will I have a good life?” The generation that is just growing up is possibly the first in recent history whose parents cannot confidently say “You’ll have it better than us”.
However, in school there is only a subject for “history”, not one for “future”.
We want to address some of the topics that will play an important role in our future:
How does the internet function? How can I protect myself against surveillance?
Causes and consequences of climate change: What are the roles of the major industries?
How can I overcome my lack of self-control and change my consumption?
What are the consequences of intensive livestock farming and what can I do about it?
How does post-growth economics work?
The Day of the Future
To encourage students to talk about these topics, we are organising the “Day of the Future” on the 27th May 2014 at the community-run Waldorf School in Sorsum.
The conference will provide a discourse about difficult topics that are hidden in many social contexts or that the students do not see as connected to their own lives. The focus of the future of social development is combined with the personal expectations and concerns of the students about their own future.
The aim of the conference is for the students to learn about the different stances of current discussions and to develop their own perspective about these topics. They should be encouraged to participate towards social change processes and actively shape their future.
Methods and Activities
On 27th May, the 120 students and teachers from years 9-12 will take a good look at pressing social issues through workshops and discussions. In order for this to happen, the students were visited and asked what future topics they themselves were interested in.
The Youth Future Project has invited along experts who will discuss these issues and work in small groups with the students. In these workshops, the students can learn about possible solutions to these problems and discuss them. The experts come from different NGOs and organisations within the network of the Youth Future Project and they have been either professionally or voluntarily involved with these topics for a long time.
Through the workshops and exchange with the experts, the students will get valuable “first hand” knowledge and will be motivated to become actively involved in finding solutions for environmental and social problems. They will also be able to gain insights from the experts regarding the work of NGOs and civil society organisations.
Environmental psychological studies show that information is not sufficient alone in order to move people to take action. Current global problems are often perceived as too overwhelming. For people to become active, they must on the one hand confront these negative emotions while on the other hand they can face these challenges by recognising the opportunity to take action. This is why we work with a mixture of solution-oriented input and deep ecological exercises that give room for personal and emotional exchange. These will take place at the beginning and end of the conference.
Additionally, the school hall will offer room for informal exchange during and after the workshops. The hall will become a small “café”. There will be tables with books and leaflets as well as a stand with “Gewagt”, the future brochure which tells young peoples’ brave life stories. For more information, visit www.gewagt.info. This will provide space for personal conversations and reinforcement of the workshop content.