Futures of Education - Learning to become 2021

Futures of Education – Learning to become 2021 (Futures-2021) is a free two-day research conference on Education for and as Sustainable Development, which takes place online 22-23 April, 2021.

NB! Please notice that due to COVID-19, all activities at the conference will be online-only. 


UN’s organization for international collaboration in Education, Sciences, and Culture, UNESCO, has recently announced two ambitious global initiatives, Education for Sustainable Development: Towards achieving the SDGs’ (ESD for 2030) and Futures of Education – Learning to Become, which focuses on visions for the future(s) of education post-2050. 

The overall theme of this conference is Education for and as Sustainable Development in the Anthropocene. The conference aims to explore how the idea behind “futures of education - learning to become” is essential both for “the transformations of human minds and societies” in general,  in relation to the idea of the Anthropocene, and for the development of Education for/as Sustainable Development as presented in the UN Agenda for Sustainable Development 2030, especially regarding the theme of equality and diversity. 
The conference examines these issues both in general and more specifically concerning Polytechnic Education at Higher Educational Institutions (HEI)


When and where 

Futures-2021 is an online conference hosted by VIA University College, Denmark. The conference is a no-fee conference. Information on venue and how to participate will be sent to all registered participants (see below for details on registration)



The target group is researchers, professionals, students and everybody else interested in or involved in/working with sustainable development, SDG2030, individual and social transformations in the Anthropocene and/or the idea of Futures of Education, in general, and/or education and training of professionals at poly-technical HEI.  

About Futures of Educations

  • UN’s organization for international collaboration in Education, Sciences, and Culture, UNESCO, has recently announced two ambitious global initiatives. 

    The first initiative ‘Education for Sustainable Development: Towards achieving the SDGs’ (ESD for 2030), is a 10-years global framework for ESD, which links explicitly to what one could call that “language for sustainable development,” embedded in the UN Agenda for Sustainable Development 2030. This initiative, which will be launched at a conference in Berlin, May 2021, aims at developing the following three core dimensions of Education for Sustainable Development: 

    1. Transformative action and each learner’s transformation process: First, transformation necessitates a certain level of disruption, together with courage and determination. Second, there are stages of the transformative learning process and edification of the individual (which also are dependent on context), which needs to be explored
    2. Structural changes: There is a need for ESD to pay more attention to the deep structural causes of unsustainable development, particularly the relationship between economic growth and sustainable development. 
    3. The technological future: Technological advances may provide solutions to some of the “old” sustainability problems, but some ESD efforts to change people’s behaviour may no longer be relevant. However, the technological solutions themselves may bring new challenges or create an illusion of having solved the original problems. (paraphrased from UNESCO’s Framework for the implementation of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) beyond 2019)

    The second initiative, Futures of Education – Learning to Become, expands the idea of sustainability of education, learning, and edification into a perspective beyond the SDG2030 agenda. It aims at reimagining “how knowledge and learning can shape the future of humanity and the planet,” and it operates with a horizon of 2050 and beyond.

    This initiative is, firstly, opening up for questions regarding the fundamental changes in the relation between humans and nature, which will occur in the 21st century, often described through the notion of the Anthropocene. Secondly, even though there is not an infinite number of answers to the challenges, which follow from these changes, then there is still a manifold of more or less promising futures that can be imagined (also from various cultural contexts).

    These imaginations and valorizations of different futures might influence how we perceive the options for both acting in the present toward the future(s) and remembering the past. 

  • The two UNESCO-initiatives constitute the background for the conference. They will be examined and debated from three overall thematic perspectives 

    • Theme 1: The Anthropocene, visions for the future(s) and the development of the intergenerational contract 
    • Theme 2: Sustainable development, equality, diversity, and ESD
    • Theme 3: Sustainable Development, edification and ESD of poly-technical Education

    You can find more information on the three themes and the conference in the concept note for the conference. 

  • Conference fee

    The conference is a no-fee conference, meaning that it is free to participate in the conference sessions. One can join the sessions over the internet if registered.


    • Deadline for submitting an abstract: January 25, 2021
    • Notification on abstract accepted February 15, 2021
    • Deadline for submitting a full paper for accepted speakers: April 10, 2021
    • Notification regarding if the paper is accepted in conference proceedings, May 2021
    • Deadline for registration without abstract: April 18, 2021

    Time and date across time zones

    As this is a global online conference, you should pay attention to how the scheduled time for the presentations will differ across time zones. All conference sessions and presentations are CEST; that is Central European Summer Time. We strongly advise that you check out the possible time difference from the time zone from where you are situated; for example, by using this website.

    Information for presenters 

    Submission template for papers

    Submission example text

  • Selected papers and articles from the conference gone through an editorial review and is now published in the FECUN, The International Journal on Futures of Education, Culture, and Nature.

    You can find them at journal site here.

  • Organizer

    VIA University College

    Contact Information

    Conference Coordinator: Victoria Justine Ulriksen Draborg, vjud@via.dk

    Academic Coordinator: Jesper Garsdal, jega@via.dk