Preeminent Futurist Claire A. Nelson, Phd., Moderates at HBCU Research and Innovation Week Forum
Clarie A. Nelson, Ph.D., preeminent futurist and author of SMART Futures for a Flourishing World: A Paradigm Shift for Achieving Global Sustainability, engaged audiences about the future of the Historically Black College and University (HBCU) during HBCU Research and Innovation earlier this week. The five-day virtual event took place from November 15 to 19. Sponsored by notable technology companies such as Google, Deloitte and Zoom along with the White House Initiative on HBCUs.
When Nelson moderated the conference’s opening panel on the future of HBCUs she emphasized to HBCU students and faculty as well as technology innovators that HBCU constituents must be actively involved in all important discussions about their future.
“My strategy, through my moderation, was to help attendees experience scenarios at various critical dates in the future.” For example, she muses, “‘Imagine 2065 the Centennial anniversary of the law that established the construct of the HBCU. What is the role of the HBCU in 2065 and what will be a day in the life of a HBCU Student? The question might even be will HBCUs still be needed in 2065? If so, why? What will they be doing to solve the challenges of Black people and the world in that time?’”
This is the strategy that Nelson unveils in her book which explores the root causes of today’s failures and lays out a plan for real-world innovation labs using a SMART future design paradigm to achieve the UN’s 17 sustainability goals and 169 targets. “SMART futures is a ‘systems literacy’ approach to problem solving that allows us to address challenges of our VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world as an integrated whole,” she says.
According to Nelson, the problem with current society is that we do not plan far enough into the future. “Futures thinking would be a game changer for HBCUs. These colleges and universities have learned to survive and thrive throughout the ages. However, being habitual about how we think about and plan for the future is critical to the future of the HBCU as a whole.”
“Those who wish to capitalize on research-related opportunities, employment, contracting and other prospects for the future must prepare today for those future possibilities,” she continues. Nelson also remarks how the challenges facing the world today are sweeping — the results of the world’s most devastating pandemic - COVID-19, economy collapse and resultant inflation are just a few of our current woes. “These challenges are already affecting the future of the HBCU. Ever wonder what would have happened if we had been planning for the effect of a pandemic on an HBCU 50 years ago?”
“If we can figure out what the challenge may be at that point in the future, we can give greater thought to preparedness— and how we can work with companies to innovate solutions that can create the future we want,” she says.
“It is vital that the leadership of HBCUs be futures literate, so that HBCUs can be part of resetting our future, and can thrive.”
For more information on Dr. Claire Nelson or her book, “SMART Futures…,” contact:
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