Research project: the world in 2030

By Andrea de la Cruz Barral, November 2019

What would the world look like in 2030 if what lives in me were to become reality? What can I do to make it happen? These questions provide the focus of the current research project of the Youth Section at the Goetheanum.

Since 2017, a team of young researchers has asked members of their own generation the question “What might the world look like in 2030?”. Mainly young people were interviewed who were taking part in colloquia, study meetings and conferences at the Goetheanum such as for example the last international student conference “Courage” at Easter 2019 which was attended by over 600 participants from all over the world. The goal of the project is to give voice to the mood among young people and to make the nature of their experience of reality visible.

A world in development

The first phase of the project consisted of forty interviews with young people from twenty-three countries coming from various cultural backgrounds. We noted that most of those interviewed saw life as a constant process of change, an experience which demands mindfulness of oneself and others and requires a continuous dialogue with oneself and the environment in order to be capable of acting. We called this state “conscious becoming”, a kind of perception of life and human existence which enables our actions to adapt to the inner changes.

Origins: where do I come from?

We live in a world of polarities, differences and diverse cultures. That is why it is necessary to concern ourselves with our own national, cultural and familial origins. The acceptance of our own roots, the understanding of our background and its effect on the formation of identity, and a real interest in deepening our knowledge in this field point to the crucial question: who am I in respect of my origins?

Education: how do I learn?

Two main areas of interest in the subject of education could be identified. The first relates to our own educational experiences; the second more widely to general concepts of education. In both areas there was a desire to contribute to an improvement because there was a feeling that the questions and initiatives of pupils should be taken account of and integrated into the curriculums to a greater extent by adults. A further aspect which positively influenced the concept of education was the experience of being seen and understood as an individual by the teachers. Thus the respondents would frequently choose the profession of teacher.

Occupation or vocation – a contradiction?

The challenge to bring our individual vocation into harmony with economic necessity or aspiration is difficult to manage. “Sometimes it seems as if my ideals stand in contradiction to my material opportunities. Either I follow my dreams or I am materially well off. And so I find myself in an inner struggle: I want to achieve the comfort I desire and at the same time follow my ideals of helping others or changing social life.”

It appears that what young people feel to be their vocation, which is often associated with the desire to help others or change something entrenched, is difficult to realise through an occupational activity. Only a few of those interviewed said that they were able to bring both into harmony.

Relationships: finding myself in the other

The most meaningful experiences of young people are often associated with the relationships they develop with other people. The values they want in a meaningful relationship are authenticity, honesty and transparency – necessary prerequisites which contribute to good communication. This also applies to the relationship with ourselves.

Gifts for the future

During the interviews, the participants were invited to think of a gift which would have a positive effect on current reality in the sense of the qualities or abilities described which could change current reality. Most frequently gifts were named which were connected with a transformation of consciousness leading to a better understanding of the challenges facing individuals and society today. In this context the respondents were not interested in finished solutions or quick improvements for personal or global problems; rather, they were looking for tools which would permit them to rise to the demands of future challenges through their thinking. That was the only way in which a truly appreciative and ethical society without fear could develop. How might this be achieved? For the respondents it starts with individual action. 

We experienced young people who were enthusiastic about learning, people who daily and in small steps endeavour to support living communication based on transparency and respect of diversity. We experienced young people who want to create environments and circumstances which allow the individual to be present in such a way that they can unite with others; who believe that a meaningful relationship to themselves and one another arises when answers are sought to questions such as: “What is freedom?” and “What does it mean to be human?”

The Youth Section recently published a first report with provisional findings and observations. This can be accessed online at: youthsection.org/research. Further presentations and working meetings will be held in Europe and America.

Andrea de la Cruz Barral is a co-worker in the Youth Section at the Goetheanum. www.youthsection.org

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