I’d like to share some good news. Even to kvell a little.
My most recent book, Academia Next: The Futures of Higher Education, appeared from Johns Hopkins University Press over the 2019-2020 winter. It got some good notices until March, whereupon people freaked out about how it forecast a pandemic before COVID appeared.
Now I’m delighted to announce Academia Next has won its first award!
The Association of Professional Futurists (APF) gives annual awards for Most Significant Futures Works. The intent: “identifying and rewarding the work of professional futurists and others whose work illuminates aspects of the future.” Historically prizes have gone to research into forecasting methods and content, as well as to literary and artistic project.
This year Academia Next won under the category of “Analyze a significant future issue.” Nominating member Marius Oosthuizen described it as such:
Bryan’s book is an example of foresight practice at the intersection of academia and action. As such, it models the way by leveraging the tools and methods of foresight, to contribute to the exploration of deep transformation of societal systems – in this case, higher education.
In a time of unprecedented social shock, while educators and learners the world over are grappling with the new realities of social distancing and digital transformation, alongside the broader social ramifications of economic disruption and political uncertainty, Bryan’s work illustrates how foresight professionals work the future.
His book is a sensible primer to a fundamental shift required in the discourse about the institutions, cultures and modes of education and learning. Bryan’s far-sightedness and relevance is borne out by his depiction of the social dynamics he sees shaping education, in for instance his chapter entitled, “Health Care Nation”.
I am utterly delighted to receive the award. As a futurist, this is a terrific recognition from my professional peers. It’s especially satisfying since those peers are not all academics – i.e., the book successfully described its topics to nonspecialists. I’m glad to bring more awareness of academic realities to the futures community, while bringing more foresight thought to higher education.
Now, alert readers may raise skeptical eyebrows about this, since I’m a board member of the APF. They’d be correct to do so. After all, I’ve nominated projects for this award. And the futures profession is a small world.
APF has been most scrupulous about the process. Once Academia Next was nominated, I was firewalled away completely, before I even made noises about recusing myself. From that point on I heard absolutely nothing from the awards group. Heck, I didn’t know I won until a friend tweeted about it. I lobbied nobody. Overall, it looks like the process was fair. I’m thankful to APF for being ethical in the process.
I’m grateful to APF in general. The organization draws together a global network of professionals, many of whom are very generous in sharing their expertise and thinking. It’s a great resource for my own work. I hope I can give back, moving forward.