Foresight Becomes a Part of Government Policy
Foresight, a system of future studies in science and technology, is being institutionalized, brings together different levels of ‘scanning’ the future, and is branching out into new sectors. These trends were among those experts identified at the 4th annual international academic conference ‘Foresight and STI Policy’, organized by the HSE Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge (ISSEK), which opened on November 6.
The importance of foresight studies has significantly grown in recent years, conference participants stressed. Foresight is essentially being integrated into government policy, said HSE First Vice Rector and Director of the Institute for Statistical Studies and the Economics of Knowledge Leonid Gokhberg. In January this year, the Prime Minister approved the ‘Russian Federation’s Science and Technological Development to 2030’ foresight document, developed in conjunction with HSE foresight experts. In June, the law ‘On Strategic Planning in the Russian Federation’ was approved. The appearance of these documents represent a serious step toward the institutionalization of foresight studies, Gokhberg said.
The overall strengthening of the role played by foresight studies makes sense: these systems, the researchers believe, serve as the most accurate guide to the future. Foresight forecasts factor in not only the obvious changes, but also ‘weaker signals’ heralding change. This makes detailed scenario-planning possible. It is no accident that foresight studies are expanding into ever-newer areas.
They have been launched in energy, aircraft and shipbuilding, resource use, nuclear industry, medicine and healthcare. Deputy Director of the Institute for Statistical Studies and the Economics of Knowledge’s Foresight Centre, Oleg Karasev, spoke about roadmaps for shipbuilding, and Department Head at the Department for Public-Private Partnership in the Innovation Sector Konstantin Vishnevsky spoke about foresight in the aviation sector.
Foresight methods are also being actively adopted by business corporations open to innovation. Their experience was analyzed by Dr Raphael Popper, Research Fellow at Manchester Institute of Innovation Research of the University of Manchester (UK) and Cornelia Daheim, Head of International Projects, at Z-Punkt foresight company (Germany). For Russian companies, adopting innovations and future technologies is not yet a defining feature of their competitiveness, said Alexander Chulok, Deputy Director of the Institute for Statistical Studies and the Economics of Knowledge’s International Research and Educational Foresight Centre.
The ‘universalization’ of foresight studies is a clear trend – as they expand into new areas. The most recent trend has been a focus on social issues in Russia and internationally. HSE is already close to completing a project forecasting future development in social and humanitarian sciences. There is increased demand for foresight studies related to the latest approaches to education policy, the development of university curricula, Leonid Gokhberg said.
Socio-demographic processes, including developed countries’ aging population, create a real need to forecast the range and volume of services required by senior citizens, Kuniko Urashima, Leader of Green Innovation Unit at the National Institute of Science and Technology Policy, Japan. Everything related to society’s new demands drive foresight research forward, said Alexander Chulok.
The ninth annual international conference The Future of Education, held in Florence, Italy, brought together over 200 education researchers and professionals from 48 countries. Undergraduate students from HSE University were the only undergraduate students at the conference to present a paper.
On June 3-4, a conference entitled ‘Beyond Post-Truth: Media Landscapes in the “Age of Insecurity”’ was held in St. Petersburg. The conference was jointly organized by the Poletayev Institute for Theoretical and Historical Studies in the Humanities (IGITI) at HSE University, the Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe at GWZO Leipzig, the Max Weber Center for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies at the University of Erfurt, and Justus Liebig University Giessen.
This May, HSE and the Science and Technology Policy Institute (STEPI, Republic of Korea) signed a cooperation agreement on science and advanced technology research. This agreement was signed by Leonid Gokhberg, HSE First Vice Rector, Director of the Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge, and Dr. Hwang-Hee Cho, STEPI President.
Implementing a digital analytical platform, opportunities for Big Data, and other prospects for the development of Russian statistics were discussed by participants at a plenary session of the XX April International Academic Conference.
Following years of study and work in South America and Europe, Rafael Popper joined HSE Moscow as Professor of Foresight and STI Governance in January 2018. In addition to his job at HSE, he is Principal Scientist in Business, Innovation and Foresight at a world leading research and technology organization (RTO) called VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. With a PhD on 21st Century Foresight from the University of Manchester, Popper has built a career on wide-ranging research of issues in foresight and STI policy. In a recent interview with the HSE News Service, he spoke in depth about his research interests, philosophy on teaching, collaboration across HSE and his love of languages, among other topics.
Leonid Gokhberg, HSE First Vice Rector, Director of the Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge, spoke on his first steps in academia, working with foreign researchers, on foresight research as well as shared his thoughts on HSE research development.
The development of a national data management system, along with its architecture and ontology, is one of the key issues for a future cabinet, believes Maxim Akimov, First Deputy of the Chief of the Government Staff of the Russian Federation. A discussion at a panel session on data in the digital era at the XIX April International Academic Conference at HSE looked into the key challenges in regards to Russian statistics and possible responses to them.
On November 7, HSE hosted a delegation from the Jülich Research Centre in Germany. Scholars from both countries came together to discuss joint research opportunities, including transformation of energy systems for sustainable development; future studies of energy technologies, including foresight studies; and methodological issues related to big data analysis and modelling.
Professor Bjørn Stensaker, who teaches in the Department of Education at the University of Oslo, will be the plenary speaker at the 8th International Conference on Higher Education Research organized by the Russian Association of Higher Education Researchers in Moscow. The conference is due to take place October 19-21. In a recent interview with the HSE News Service, Professor Stensaker spoke about his latest research and the trends he sees in higher education, including the growing role of technology.
At the end of November, HSE School of Linguistics hosted the Uslar Conference — an international event for scholars studying the Caucasian languages. Participants and organizers have shared their impressions with HSE News.