For many centuries, looking at the future and thinking about the future was an idealistic and essentially optimistic practice, that projected “the best of worlds”, and looked at technological progress as the agent of a science that improves the human condition. Over the 20th century this euphoric vision of the future started to be overshadowed by the awareness of an abyssal ability to engender misfortune. At the beginning of the 21st century, this transforming ideal is being countered by a certain retrotopia (Z. Bauman) that idealizes the past and creates a model of happiness that is not turned towards a future-to-create but towards a past-to-recover. This is partly due to the disenchantment over a globalization of indifference, over the crisis surrounding the models of the democratic State, over the deepening of cultural wars, and the emergence of extreme violence. At the same time, we are witnessing both the realities of a resource crisis, and the increasing and evident exhaustion of the planet, while the fourth technological revolution seriously questions the future of work and of an active life as the defining matrix of the human.
Given these different rhythms, directions and contexts under which the future’s horizon shifts, given the clear dissimilarities regarding access to and the ability of individuals to model these changes, wouldn’t it be more coherent to talk about ‘futures’ that are culturally situated in distinct global realities? How can this transformed reality be articulated within the context of the acceleration caused by global movements and new technological impacts? What are the issues, the questions, the problems that the times to come will raise in different global localizations? Where are the actors and the agents of the future?
And how can Portugal position itself within this debate? During the year of its 50th anniversary, Universidade Católica Portuguesa recalls its foundational matrix as an institution at the service of the development of the human community, and its vision to ‘cultivate science and contribute to the common good’, with a cycle of 10 talks by visionaries from 10 different areas who will discuss global futures. Over one year, starting in October 2017, on Thursdays, between 5:30 and 7:30 pm, we invite you to join and think with us about these ‘global futures’.