Futures Researcher Markku Wilenius Appointed in the UNESCO Professorship


The University of Turku has been granted a professorship by UNESCO with the aim of making use of tools of futures research to eradicate poverty and increase well-being in the developing countries. Professor of Futures Studies Markku Wilenius has been appointed to the position.

​The professorship is granted by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation UNESCO. The aim of the professorship is to support futures work in the developing countries.

The University of Turku begins the creation of a method for introducing futures work to developing countries in co-operation with UNESCO and the other agreement partners involved. Eight universities from, for example, Namibia, Peru, China, the United States and Germany, have already signed up as partners in co-operation.
The aims of the four-year professorship also include preparation for the new UniTwin university network project for UNESCO.

The Past Does Not Determine the Future

– My own research shows that our world is moving into the next era, the Sixth Wave. The new wave will take a great deal away with it but it will also bring new possibilities as the effective forces of movement are different from before. It is possible for the developing countries to find new ways to be part of the world economy – ways, in which they can for example increase the value added of raw materials and leave their subordinate position as the resource base for the global economy. The tools of futures research help picture these possibilities by anticipating what needs will arise and what will disappear. That is what we do here every day, says Wilenius.

Wilenius, who has for more than 20 years worked in the field of futures research in Finland and abroad, talks about futures education.

– Our aim is to help people across the world to understand how important it is to anticipate the future and draw conclusions. The empowering starting point is that what has happened in the past does not necessarily determine what will happen in the future.


Markku Wilenius

The professorship Is an Acknowledgement for Futures Research at the University of Turku

The theme of the UNESCO professorship is Learning Society and Futures of Education.

– We observe UNESCO's principles in our work as messengers of the societal role and significance of education. Spreading education and culture widely and investing in that work has been a truly revolutionary force in the developing societies. In the project, we also carry out research on the current educational situation and the development needs related to education, says Wilenius.

According to Rector Kalervo Väänänen, this professorship is an important acknowledgement for the work that has long been done in the field of futures research and sustainable development at the University of Turku and its Finland Futures Research Centre.

– These themes will return to the University of Turku in the coming years with the question how the knowledge pool of the whole of the University of Turku can in future be made use of in these projects. It is worth noting that this also opens up possibilities for education exports.

Text: Taru Suhonen
Photograph: Hanna Oksanen

Created 17.05.2016 | Updated 17.05.2016