New book brings together ideas from thought leaders around the world on the future of education


Our school systems should aim at teaching capabilities, skills and attitude required to work together on the complex problems of our time. A new book collects thoughts and suggestions from an international group of researchers and practitioners on how our educations systems and learning practices should be renewed in the coming decades.

What is the purpose of school as an institution? This is one of the questions that an international group of researchers aim at answering in Sustainability, human well-being and the future of education – a book brought together by the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra and published by Palgrave Macmillan.

This open access book explores the key dimensions of a future education system designed to enable individuals, schools, and communities to achieve the twin twenty-first century challenges of sustainability and human well-being

A group of 15 Finnish and North American thinkers call for a radical redefinition of the aim of our schools: Transition to a sustainable future should be made the objective of the entire education system.

Skills for tackling wicked problems

For much of the twentieth century, Western education systems prepared students to enter the workforce, contribute to society and succeed in relatively predictable contexts. Today, people are at the controls of the planet—making decisions that are dramatically reshaping environmental, social and economic systems at a global scale. What is education’s purpose in this new reality? What and how must we learn now?

The greatest challenges facing our society – climate change, increasing social inequality and the transformation of work – are by nature complex. Our school system should therefore aim at deep learning that will change our world view and teach the talents, skills and attitude required to tackle them.

“When there is a lot of information, also mutually conflicting information, those who can synthesise, or pick what is essential and combine information, will be most successful,” says Justin W. Cook, the editor of the book.

The important future skills in addition to creativity, critical thinking and communication and working together include empathy and flexibility. The enthusiasm to constantly update one's competence will also play an important role.

“We as human beings are capable of accumulating knowledge throughout our lives. We have common global problems of which the solution cannot wait and that require the input of us all. If we want to build a more sustainable world, we need a capable education system more than ever. It means that the school must also dare to change”, says Paula Laine, Director of Foresight, insight and strategy at Sitra.

Education for a Changing World research project

Insights gained in various sectors have been gathered in Sitra's project focusing on the future of education with the aim of accelerating discussion on the relationship of education and sustainable well-being in the changed world. As part of the project, Sitra organised the Developers of sustainable education experimentation and training programme combining the contents of sustainable well-being and practical trials.

Publication details

Sustainability, Human Well-being and the Future of Education
ISBN 978-3-319-78580-6
Edited by: Cook, Justin W
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan 2018
Download the free eBook or purchase the book online



Jenna Lähdemäki-Pekkinen, Specialist, Sitra, +358 50 343 6827
Heli Nissinen, Communications Specialist, Sitra,, +358 407671822

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