How can we create a world that works for all? That question animates education futurist Pavel Luksha, professor at the Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO and Director of Global Education Futures.

Luksha thinks students need more learning experiences to cultivate a sense of purpose. He sees purpose arising from knowing yourself and the world.

The first step is self observation. “There is an insufficiently cultivated ability to listen to yourself,” explained Luksha. “It is one of the shortcomings of a predefined, one-size-fits-all curriculum.”

But finding that passion requires something else. In addition to listening to yourself and giving things a try with play-based and experience-based learning, it requires the ability to empathize and dialog.

In particular, Luksha wants to see more dialog about the environment. He sees widespread disregard for all the ways humans are impacting the climate. He thinks we’re putting the future of humanity at risk. To address the problem, Luksha is working on a big idea: a university for the planet.

Planetary University

There is accelerating recognition of the impact humans are having on the planet. Young people might be the last generation with a chance to mitigate the damage we’ve caused.

“If we continue on the path that we are on, in the next 100 years the planet may become uninhabitable,” said Luksha. “We need to engage critical mass of people in the next 20 or 30 years or we are doomed.”

Given the complex changes in the biosphere, “The only way to go forward is to become more modest, to acknowledge that we are part of a much bigger system. We need to learn how to reconnect, modify our ways, and stop harming the ecology.”

Luksha proposed a University for the Planet to help build the global skills to connect with a common future. He envisions a system of 250 hubs around the world that will support lifelong learning for global citizenship.

A series of short in-person workshops will extended into six month programs. Participants will often engage in projects to mitigate or adapt to climate change. A project platform will give investors a view of all the global projects.

While Luksha sees great invention opportunity (e.g., clean energy, sustainable cities), “We have enough answers; we need to spread knowledge.”

Luksha sees a University for the Planet as key to creating a world that works for all of us. “It gives me hope that education can be one of the factors enriching and stewarding a global civilization.”

Reimagining Education

Creating a global lifelong learning collaborative could be a key part of combating and adapting to climate change. It could also help reimagine education. “It’s about bringing life into the more machine-like civilization that we have become,” said Luksha.

For hundreds of years, schools have been modeled after factories. “The only antidote is to awaken the life in you and the life in relationships; to become part of the tapestry of life, more humane, more lifelike,” said Luksha.

“Any system project begins with relationships on the micro-level, the level of the classroom or school. It starts by cultivating a different kind of relationship, not transactional, but recognizing the other as a complex human being. This is where the journey begins, to awaken to who we are.”

University for the Planet is a big idea. But it just might start small with a few people coming together in community, sharing what they know, and making a contribution.

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