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The Youth of Tomorrow
by Rev. Richard S. Kirby, PhD, Nov 28, 1998
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This statement was delivered by Rev. Richard S. Kirby, PhD., International Chairperson of the World Network of Religious Futurists on November 28, 1998, in review of the Youth Futures Academy.

I write these words on behalf of my colleagues, scholars in the future of religion and society.

Our subject is the future of Youth - the Youth of Tomorrow.

Please join me in picturing a City of Light, indeed a Land of Light, a Star of Light -- perhaps a Death Star in reverse polarity, a Life Star. Picture a City of Light or a Star of Life which is in a galaxy not too far away, and getting nearer: a Light of Hope, a Land of Life, a strange, but not unimaginable New World. Picture, if you will, that it has a radio station which is calling us, or at least our youngsters. It is calling them to this Land of Joy, to be citizens of it, to be galactic citizens, to find galactic amounts of grace.

This City or Land of Inspiration, to the mystics of the world's religions, is no imaginary place; it is a not a dream but a real spiritual world - in fact the truly real one. Children and youngsters, with their ideals and energy, know this. With their innocence they see it clear: as William Blake said: "When the doors of perception are cleansed,.....[we] shall see everything as it is, infinite."

Youngsters believe in ideal worlds; they are natural Platonists: they know the ideal is the real. Now the leaders and managers who mentor the Youth of Tomorrow need to work with this. We can do so by creating a new curriculum for the nourishment of their moral imagination. Thus we minister to the needs of the civic leaders of the youth of the 21st century. For the civic leaders within youth need to be spiritual leaders also. This is the moral witness, the ethical testimony of those of us who are their mentors.

This nourishment is one of the works of the Futurist Society at the University of Washington, and indeed of the wider purposes of the Youth Futurist Academy which has arisen from the World Future Society's Professional Members Forum Youth Committee.

The movement for the nourishment of the Youth of Tomorrow as ethically equipped leaders of science and technology is not just multi-faith but international. In Russia, Dick Spady, John Spady and I formed a Youth Futurist Academy for Russian students. It is headquartered at the Kursk State Pedagogical University. Mr. John Spady is returning to Kursk later this month. Transcripts exist of some of my talks on this subject in Moscow and Kursk. The Youth Futurist Academy remains larger than the school societies.

The international Academy remains in existence, in skeletal form, under the youth presidency of Nicholas Mathews, who is now studying in Germany on leave from the University of Washington. Also, Jerome Tan, one of the members of the Futurists Society of the University of Washington was in Singapore recently. There, he met with youth leaders and government official and paved the way for the establishment of the youth academy there.

Next month, another of the members of the Futurists Society, Vivian Yuen, is going to Singapore, and will be equipped to formally found a Youth Futurist Academy there. Vivian Yuen is also going on to Hong Kong, where she will explore the possibilities to informally found a Youth Futurist Academy. Meanwhile, I am in continuous correspondence with a futurist in Orissa, India, who is laying the foundations for a Youth Futurist Academy there. Only lack of funds prevents such an academy coming into immediate existence in India. The identical situation holds in Pakistan [Eminabad, distt. Gujranwala.] In Germany, Mr. Mathews is laying the foundations for a European Youth Futurist Academy. Mr Jinsong Wang, another of the members of the Futurists Society, is working with us to explore the possibilities to informally found a Youth Futurist Academy in Beijing, China in 1999.

The Youth Futurist Academy serves to train youth as futurists. But it is a real academy, not a prelude to one. It is not a rehearsal, but a real, dynamic, heuristic community. Behind this program is a profound commitment on my part, as faculty advisor, to introduce rigorous, imaginative and contemporary scientific thinking to the youth futurists. We aim to equip them with knowledge and fluency in classic philosophy/history of science and also with a grasp of the entrepreneurial and political value of emerging sciences and technologies. We are exploring, particularly with the textbooks of Dick Spady and Cecil Bell, not just a way of being young and a futurist, but conceptions of civilization.

To uphold the commitment to a better politics of science and technology, Ivo Graf was appointed in June as the Director of Research of the Youth Futurist Academy. He will work with me and with the Youth President, Mr. Nicholas Mathews to develop and execute policy for the research functions of the youth programs in science and technology research.

The Academy serves as a school on the whole spectrum, from pure to applied research - from the study of methods such as trend analysis, to the intelligent approach of government/business collaborative trams in tackling problems such as road rage. I am encouraging the students also to bridge the generation gap by working with the United Nations Year of the Older Person, 1999.

The Academy serves as a school of management and leadership and innovation, too --- no surprises there, as I teach these subjects at the University of Washington. I project an Institute of Management Innovation within the Academy, as it seems to me that there is great scope for experimentation in the pursuit of management excellence through Innovation theory and practice. But the entire Academy should definitely be considered as an ongoing experiment in ethical management innovation and/or innovative 'moral' management.

We hope to have a presence of the youth futurists themselves at the Washington, DC Assembly of the WFS in July 1999. We welcome your contributions or ideas about this.

We also hope to lead the youth futurists to create a regular WFS publication, inspired by Dick Spady's Youth Futures Forum methods, and we are working to design a Museum of the Future which will have a heavy emphasis on appeal to youth. We are working to design a Stock Exchange of the Future, which will have a heavy emphasis on appeal to youth by experimental models of financial intelligence and innovative electronic trading of goods, services and money.

Many people are asking how they could share in the life of this "Life Star," and perhaps in the work of the Youth Futurist Academy. I can only invite people who are interested in the training of youth as futurists, as moral and as scientific leaders, to claim a piece of the action! Let us know how we can help you to help the youth leaders in your area [geographically or conceptually] in the training of youth as futurists, as ethicists, as technologists, as imagineers. Even a phone call can help shift energies sometimes.

To honor the Youth of the Future, the Stuart C. Dodd Institute for Social Innovation has recently created a "Youth Futurist of the Year" award. The first recipient is Ivo Graf, Vice-President of the Futurist Society at the University of Washington. The award ceremony will take on Wednesday, January 20, 1999. The location will be on the campus at the University of Washington, in the Boeing Auditorium, Seafirst Executive Center, from 7:30 - 9:30 pm. The award, first of an annual series, will be in the context of an annual Stuart C. Dodd Institute Lecture.

The Youth of Tomorrow are moving out - claiming their inheritance as geniuses of imagination. Between the gratitude of Thanksgiving and the festivities of Christmas, this is indeed something to celebrate. Youth has a brilliant, luminous future - the leadership of the illuminated imagination. We celebrate a rebirth of innocence as we commission young leaders within a fresh curriculum of ethical excellence - the framework of 21st century spiritual civilization.


URL: http://www.wnrf.org/cms/youth_tommorrow.shtml

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