Imagine a world you can’t imagine and then start thinking about how to prepare for it. Should you prepare like an experienced outback traveller would do? Carry equipment to keep you alive in difficult circumstances? Study before your journey and practice your skills to improvise and stay alive? Or should you prepare like an adolescent would do when going for the first time on a holiday without parents: Pack up some cloths, bring your friends along and be confident that you will have the time of your life! Probably we need a little bit of both for this unimaginable world: thorough preparation and self-confidence. But we will never know for sure until we get there.
This travel metaphor illustrates the challenge we take up when talking about ‘Preparing for the unknown’. If nobody knows what the future will be, how can we decide about the perfect preparation? One can argue that the future has always been unknown and that this does not automatically imply new developmental challenges. Of course the future has always been uncertain, but the world is changing and it is changing fast. It is a relatively new phenomenon that technical and societal changes tumble over each other within the horizon of a single lifetime. People not only need to adapt, they need to be able to contribute to and help shaping this changing world. The society as a whole needs people that can create a prosperous future. And from this a pedagogical challenge arises: can we support people to take control over their own unknown future? This is the challenge Future Life Research takes up: innovations for the unknown.