The Past, The Present and The Future
Dr Juha Kaskinen, Director of the Finland Futures Research Center (FFRC), University of Turku is visiting the HSE Moscow in the framework of the ‘International Foresight Academy’ project developed by EU, the first organization to bind together foresight activities around the globe by supporting researcher mobility between leading Foresight Centers of Europe, North and South America, and Asia.
We spoke to Dr Juha Kaskinen. You can find out more about his work here.
— You have to travel between Russia and Finland back and forth a lot now to implement your ongoing joint projects with the HSE. What challenges does your cooperation with the HSE bring?
— On personal level, the main challenge is the language, unfortunately it would be easier if I could speak Russian. Or if colleagues here at the HSE could speak Finnish. But, I suppose that is too much to ask. But seriously, everyone speaks English here at the ISSEK and it works out pretty well, even if it would be better in some cases if Russian could be used.
On a general level, there are ‘normal’ challenges that are part of internationalization, like project based funding that can sometimes hinder continuous cooperation. The personnel in project based organizations are also always busy with projects and applying for new ones so it can be difficult to find time for activities like organising new contacts and networks, planning projects together, writing articles and so on. But realistically, you just have to try to find the necessary resources.
— What are the main issues and differences between different schools in futurology? Could you tell us about the differences between your work and that of blue-sky thinking experts? What’s happening here, in Moscow, on this issue?
— It seems to me that that in futures studies and foresight (we usually do not use the term futurology), it is more a question of approaches, not schools of thought as such. In corporate foresight, the tendency is to help a company or companies to map alternative futures and assist in their strategic planning and decision-making. In futures studies a researcher can be interested in, for example, epistemological or ontological questions or developing futures methods. Foresight is planning and decision-making orientated. Futures studies is a general discipline orientated towards questions about the future. Along with many colleagues, I would argue that both quantitative and qualitative methods must be applied to futures work, so that differentiation has started to blur.
Blue sky thinking and sometimes wild visions are an essential part of futures exercises, because we are not predicting the future, we are mapping different possible futures. Without visions it’s just impossible to create a desirable future.
— What is your teaching method? How do you inspire students?
— We use multiple teaching methods. Education and learning is nowadays more problem-orientated, and deals with real cases, as well as increasingly being carried out online. We use lot of group work and assignments. Lecturing is clearly decreasing and learning is increasingly taking place outside the class room. Here at FFRC, we are following and I hope in some cases creating this trend. For students we want to offer an interesting learning environment with challenging tasks, international groups to work with and hopefully also an inspiring social and cultural environment.
— What are you favorite places in Moscow? How do you spend your leisure time?
— Well, weekdays are taken up with work. I have been trying to see major historical sites of Moscow at the weekends, but I really can’t say what is my favorite yet. As a futurist, I know I have to understand history and I also know that there is plenty so see in Moscow for a history enthusiast.
Anna Chernyakhovskaya, specially for the HSE news service
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.
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.
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.
Policymakers are increasingly turning to foresight techniques for guidance when addressing the wide array of problems and challenges arising in their work. A new book co-edited by Leonid Gokhberg, Dirk Meissner, and Alexander Sokolov from the HSE Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge (ISSEK), attempts to add another dimension – namely, opportunities – that can come from proper application of foresight techniques. Deploying Foresight for Policy and Strategy Makers: Creating Opportunities Through Public Policies and Corporate Strategies in Science, Technology and Innovation (Springer, 2016) features essays by more than a dozen scholars on various aspects of foresight application in today’s policy environment.
How dangerous is the ‘beaten track’ effect in discussions on Russia’s science and technology (S&T) development? Is it enough to master new technologies without changing the institutions for the country to successfully enter global markets? Alexander Chulok, Deputy Director of the Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge Foresight Centre, commented on the key topics of a recent online discussion on ‘Russia’s place on the global technology map’, on the Russian science and technology website STRF.ru which attracted a wide range of pundits.
What should Russia’s policy be on Science and Technology? What do Russian and international foresight research results show? How is international cooperation in science developing? These are among the questions which will be discussed at the 5th annual international research conference on Foresight and STI Policy at HSE on 18th - 20th November.
On September 24, 2015, a delegation of the Ministry of Science and Technology of Taiwan (MOST) visited HSE Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge (ISSEK). With the goal to identify perspective areas of cooperation, researchers of HSE and MOST delegates shared their unique fields of expertise and discussed key trends and instruments of Taiwan’s and Russia’s state policy on international cooperation in science, technology, and industrial innovation. During the visit, Dr. Yi-Bing Lin, Taiwan’s Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, gave an interview to the HSE news portal, in which he cited Karl Marx’s theory, while talking about big data and futures studies.
David Sarpong recently joined the HSE Research Laboratory for Science and Technology Studies as a senior research fellow. In this interview with the HSE News Service, he shares his first impressions of Moscow and HSE, as well as his expectations for the future.
The annual foresight courses which have been running at Manchester University since 1999 are considered some of the most prestigious and important for researchers of the future. In July 2015 two researchers at the Foresight Centre at ISSEK who have been students on the courses themselves have been invited this year to come and teach.