Imagining the Future Anew at Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University, a Key Participant in UNESCO’s Futures Literacy Summit


Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia: In the same way that humanity has the ability to foresee great challenges, we as a species can also foresee futures where these challenges have been innovatively and imaginatively met. A rich field of thought, called futures studies, has emerged around this concept of how an expansive envisioning of the future that emphasizes novel perspectives could prove instrumental in effecting positive change right here in the present.      

To foster the knowledge, development, and reach of futures studies, Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University (PMU) is participating in the High-Level Futures Literacy Summit, held by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) from 8 to 12 December 2020.

Dr. Issa Al Ansari, President of PMU, will first deliver an opening speech on the university’s involvement in the enrichment of future studies. The university will further present and participate in workshops, announce research grants, and offer a virtual exhibition.

“The purpose of the UNESCO 2020 Summit is to amplify the role of futures studies in influencing people’s perceptions and actions related to the present and the future as well, as to empower all people, to use future thinking efficiently and effectively in order to create changes that benefit societies,” said Dr. Ansari, President of PMU. “Futures studies are a very important element of the educational mission of PMU and we hope to encourage this kind of forward-looking thinking and rethinking around the world.”

The university has accordingly established the Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd Center for Futuristic Studies (PMFCFS), a multidisciplinary institute. On its campus in Al-Khobar, and for the whole of the Middle East and North Africa region, the institute has opened a chapter of the World Futures Studies Federation (WFSF), a global non-governmental organization that is a consultative partner with UNESCO and the UN and with members in over 60 countries. The university has also launched an academic course, “Introduction to Future Studies,” PMU and UNESCO are also currently developing a Master’s program in Futures Studies, to be launched in 2023, and PMU is seeking to establish a UNESCO Chair in Futures Literacy entitled “Transitional and Inter-Generational Anticipation.”

“At home and abroad, futures thinking — through futures literacy translating into futures studies — can provide vital new perspectives on how to imaginatively solve the world’s most pressing problems and looming challenges, helping to ensure prosperity for the entirety of humanity,” said Dr. Ansari.