In a rapidly evolving world, thinking about the future is an imperative for young professionals and new generations of experts. Resilience, which entails being able to create and protect our vision for the better future, is thus once again fundamental in times of crisis, disinformation and hybrid threats.
International Autumn School Resilience League 2021, entitled “History of Tomorrow – the Unpredictable Outlook”, was held in Pärnu, Estonia in October 2021. Over 50 motivated participants and 12 experienced speakers from 12 countries gathered to discuss various ways of how to shape democratic futures for resilient societies. The international event was opened by H.E. Christiane Hohmann, German Ambassador to Estonia, followed by Mr. Mark Naylor Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Tallinn, and Mr. Peer Krumrey, director of the FES Baltic states office in Riga.
In his welcoming speech, Mr. Dmitri Teperik, ICDS Chief Executive and Programme Director of the Autumn School stated: “The strength of resilience is manifested in our willingness and ability to develop and maintain professional networks at local, regional, national and international levels. Resilience League is a co-operation platform for like-minded specialists who are ready to discuss effective solutions for shaping our common future in the Euro-Atlantic area”.
Through an interdisciplinary approach, organisers invited the participants to start thinking and envisioning different versions of the future and possible scenarios that lay ahead for our political communities, societies and the entire region. The following guiding questions were proposed by speakers and trainers to discussed with young experts and professionals during the event:
- What will our political, societal, cultural, technological and geopolitical future look like?
- Who will shape the dialogue on international affairs in Europe 2050?
- What kind of future do we want? How can we shape it? How brave is our imagination of the alternative futures?
- To what extent does communication of the future reflect our present values, new technological trends, emerging threats and unthinkable opportunities?
- How can our resilience be eroded by undermining our confidence in the prospects of a better – safer, more prosperous and harmonious – future?
- How are the authoritarian regimes positioning themselves vis-à-vis the democracies in articulating the ostensibly more appealing visions of the future, and how can this be successfully countered?
In addition to lectures and presentations, the participants learned some basics of futurology and forecasting tools, creation of future scenario, future of intelligence, strategic communication, investigative journalism, challenges for policymaking, predictive analytics, crisis communication, artificial intelligence and data science, futuristic analysis of media landscape, and informal discussions on possible future scenarios in Russia.
As a part of the school’s programme, the documentary “Restless memories” was screened and commented by the film director Ms. Elina Lange-Ionatamishvili. The film screening provoked further discussions on the topic of how the past impacts our futures. Many participants also engaged into a peer-to-peer learning session to share the ongoing projects as well as ideas for new endeavours and partnerships.
The International Autumn School 2021 was organized by the ICDS in close cooperation with the German Embassy in Tallinn, the U.S. Embassy in Tallinn, NATO Public Diplomacy Division, Open Information Partnership, and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES-Baltics).