Rethinking Future Higher Education

By Mario Raich, Simon Dolan, Paweł Rowinski, Claudio CisulloCourtney Abraham and Jan Klimek

“Education is a sustainable way for cultural change and transformation.”


The world around us has already changed dramatically, and the pace is accelerating exponentially. So far, the so-called “education” has not been able to catch up with this fourth industrial revolution. Visionary people are already looking beyond it, talking about the “age of transhumanism”1. In view of the accelerating development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Cyber-Reality (CR) it becomes mandatory to define human uniqueness vs. intelligent machines and Cyber Entities.2 The new reality requires a lifetime education model, which is truly future oriented, and proposed to be based on four pillars: learning, research and design, development and deployment. This article stretches our imagination and hopefully will serve as a creative reference allowing educators to dream and deploy new systems.



Curiosity and the joy of creation are the power engines of education!­­­

If we look 25 years into the future from now, we can see a different world. The Cyber-Entities are supporting people everywhere and in all aspects of daily life and work; in politics and arts, in science and technology, in education and in entertainment; in “Our-Reality” (subjective) and in the Cyber-Reality (objective). It is a useful co-existence and collaboration, which has become an integral part of human civilisation. Robots and smart machines are taking care of large part of the physical and administrative work. A large part of the human population lives and works extensively in the Hybrid Reality composed of “Our-Reality” and “Cyber-Reality”. The lifetime education is also increasingly shifting into the Cyber-Reality.3

With the Virtual-Reality becoming seamless to Our-Reality, the boundaries between the different realities are increasingly blurry, the world has dramatically changed. Additionally, physical and mental abilities have been augmented thanks to advanced technologies and techniques. The mentally enhanced humans are considered as the intellectual elites with coaching and mentoring duties towards the rest of the population. They create the talent pool of scientist, technicians, engineers, future researchers and future designers, but they may also include some selected politicians and spiritual leaders.

People have become very “Cyber savvy”. The use of the highly sophisticated and smart technology has become quite easy to handle. The social and professional life is shifting increasingly into the Virtual Reality. So are the crime and even wars. In countries ruled by powerful Lords the advanced technologies are also used for control of the citizens.


With the Virtual-Reality becoming seamless to Our-Reality, the boundaries between the different realities are increasingly blurry, the world has dramatically changed.

Almost all areas of life have changed or are in the process of being changed. Sustainability of nature and natural resources is the leading principle of the hybrid civilisation. Transportation, heating, cooling, lighting and the production of packaging and all kinds of wrapping no longer require fossil fuels. New solutions have replaced plastics. Circular supply chains are enabling permanent reuse of most raw materials. The production of food has shifted to the cities and to food producing factories. Animals are not needed anymore for the production of meat. Cities, countries and enterprises are competing in the race for self-sustainability and zero carbon footprints. The cleaning up of the environmental mess created by the exhaustive capitalism of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century, and the transformation towards an environmentally sustainable society have created an incredible amount of new jobs. The big challenge is how to maintain a level of comfort and prosperity, keeping a satisfactory quality of life in balance with the finite resources available and a biosphere with its life friendly durable ecosystems.

All of these require an incredible amount of human imagination to create and implement new solutions. Luckily the virtual labs and future design centres allow to experiment new solutions without causing a real harm to the environment.

Let’s look at future education through the lens of Lea

Imagine that Lea is a digital native; she is in the mid thirty, born at the time when the iPhone was introduced to the market. Her parents were both active in the ICT industry. She grew up with an iPad and a Smartphone in her hands. Social Media, YouTube were her companions from early days on.

At the time when digitalisation was raging, she was still at school. It was a traditional school where digital devices were not welcome. She was still pursuing her formal education, preparing her master, when augmented reality was spreading fast into the industry and was slowly introduced into education. Like all other students, Lea passed through the talent assessment and led a talent challenge project in scientific research at the beginning of her studies. She found out that her talents would be best deployed in applied research.

At the same time, the development of virtualisation was picking up speed on its way to “seamlessness” with “human reality”. The breakthrough came, to the big surprise of experts, because of the deployment of VR in medicine helping to contain the cost explosion and for virtual sex due to the lack of women in several large countries, the unwillingness for sex of the young generation in some other countries, and the draconic laws for sexual harassment in the so-called developed world.

Advances in Artificial Intelligence were also spreading into the workplace and daily life. Education was still reluctant to fully leverage it. Education was still focussed on learning, but the importance of transmission of knowledge was already vanishing. The world was clearly in transition.

Lea opted to work in the area of care and repair of the environment. But before she started to work in the environment cluster, she went through an extensive virtual simulation about the first ten years of engagement. She also took several “virtual practices” in this domain. Additionally, she also started to create her own individual development network.

When Lea finally joined the “workforce”, the idea of lifetime education started to become reality. The concept of education was extended towards the four pillars approach: learning, research & design, development and deployment. Pilot programs for lifetime education have been deployed all over the planet, focussing in particular, on the “post-formal” education.

The hybrid reality also started to impact work, daily life and education. People started to work in different realities: “our reality”, digital reality, augmented reality, and virtual reality. Since Lea has a master in “Care and repair” with a focus on environment and a specialisation in water, and she is a sustainability engineering scientist, she started to work as a research scientist in the “Environment Care and Repair Core Competency Cluster”. The work on “environment” is a global key issue, and is encompassing the areas of air, water, soil, climate and the living nature.

In view of the catastrophic situation of almost all eco-systems, most people activities are shifting into the virtual reality. But the world disasters needed to be taken care of in order to recreate sustainable environment for life. Human species are at risk! Growing number of people started to work on projects aiming at leaving the planet and moving into space and other planets of the solar system. There was even a hope to move someday soon to planets around nearby stars.

Lea has an assigned Cyber-Entity watching the status, monitoring her talent development, and ensuring she was up-to-date on the scientific and technological development relevant to her professional activity. In addition she is an active member of several professional networks and participates in the educational activities of the “Global Virtual Academy” in the areas of sustainable development and environmental care and repair. Finally, she is preparing for future research in these areas.

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About the Authors

Dr. Mario Raich is a Swiss futurist, book author and global management consultant. He was a Senior Executive in several global financial organisations, and Invited Professor to some leading business schools like ESADE (Barcelona). He is the co-founder and Chairman of e-Merit Academy (, and Managing Director for the Innovation Services at Frei+Raich Ltd. in Zurich. In addition he is a member of the advisory board of the Global Future of Work Foundation in Barcelona. Currently he is researching the impact of Cyber-Reality and Artificial Intelligence on society, education, business and work.

Dr. Simon L. Dolan is currently the president of the Global Future of Work Foundation ( He used to be the Future of Work Chair at ESADE Business School in Barcelona, and before that he taught for many years at McGill and Montreal Universities (Canada), Boston and University of Colorado (U.S.). He is a prolific author with over 70 books on themes connected with managing people, culture reengineering, values and coaching.  His full c.v. can be seen at:

Prof. Paweł M. Rowinski is currently the Vice President of the Polish Academy of Sciences ( From 2008 to 2015, he was the CEO of the Institute of Geophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences. In 2017 he was elected as the Vice Chair of the International Association for Hydro-Environment Engineering and Research IAHR Europe Division Leadership Team. In addition he is a member of Board of ALLEA – the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities. His career concentrates on contribution to geophysics and particularly to hydro-sciences.

Claudio Cisullo is a Swiss entrepreneur. During his entrepreneurial career, he founded and established over 26 companies in different business segments globally. He is a Board member of several internationally renowned companies. He is the founder and owner of the family office, CC Trust Group AG and also the founder and Executive Chairman of Chain IQ Group AG with headquarters in Zurich. Chain IQ is an independent, global service and consulting company providing strategic, tactical and operational procurement.

Courtney Abraham is the Global Head of Talent Strategy and Development at The Adecco Group (  She has 20 years of experience working with Fortune 1000 companies, and is a thought leader and speaker for international business and HR audiences.


Prof. Jan Klimek is an awarded scholar who has published many theoretical and practical papers. In total, he has authored 10 monographs, about 30 newspapers and university journal articles of Polish and international scope. He has also published about 25 articles in popular science newspapers, two scientific books, opinion for EESC,  and 6  book reviews. Prof.  Klimek is member of 2 editorial boards and 3 scientific councils.  Apart from being a professor at Warsaw School of Economics, he serves as a member of the European Economic and Social Committee and President of the Chamber of Commerce for Small and Medium Enterprises in Katowice (Poland).


1. “The most common transhumanist thesis is that human beings may eventually be able to transform themselves into different beings with abilities so greatly expanded from the current condition as to merit the label of posthuman beings”, Bostrom, Nick (2005). “A history of transhumanist thought” https:// / papers / history.pdf  z is an international intellectual movement that aims to transform the human condition by developing and making widely available sophisticated technologies to greatly enhance human intellect and physiology

2. As Cyber-Entities we consider all digital and virtual programs and algorithms; AI based smart machines; robots; digital and virtual assistants; smart communication devices; all kinds of computing devices and the Internet, AI based systems e.g. the Internet, AI based machines e.g. Robots, AI based bots etc.

3. More on these various concepts can be found in our paper entitled: “Insights into the transformation of business in the cyber age”, March 2018.


5. / Education / Documents /education_2030_incheon_declaration_en.pdf

6. A Model for the Future of Education, and the Tech Shaping It, Peter H. Diamandis, MD, Sep 12, 2018, – for – the – future – of – education – and – the – tech – shaping – it/?utm _ source = Singularity + Hub + Newsletter&utm _ campaign = 5a71915c29 – Hub _ Daily _ Newsletter&utm _ medium = email&utm_term=0_f0cf60cdae-5a71915c29-58476953


8. Ed Hess, Kazimierz Gozdz, Becoming a Hyper-Learning Community: The Future of Business,

9. Altbach, Philip G. The Past, Present, and Future of the Research University. http://siteresources . worldbank . org / EDUCATION / Resources / 278200 – 1099079877269 / 547664 -1099079956815 / 547670 – 1317659123740 / Chapter1.pdf

10. / wiki / Fachhochschule # Switzerland



13. Innovation With AGX,

14. Sources: / working – groups / overview/ working – group – science – education/

Chan G., (2016). The research university in today’s society. UCL Press. p.28

Mohrman K., Ma W., Baker D. (2008). The Research University in Transition: The Emerging Global Model, Higher Education Policy, 21, 5-27.

Rowinski P.M., Burczynski T., Duszynski J., Rychard A. (2017). Research university, Nauka, 3, 35–56 (in Polish, English abstract)

15. Mohrman et al., op.cit. (2008) 

16. Chan (2016) op. cit.

17. McKinsey Global Institute, Jobs lost, Jobs gained, November 2017, accessed: – insights/future – of – work / jobs – lost – jobs – gained – what – the – future – of – work – will – mean – for – jobs – skills – and – wages

18. Putting the Human back in Human Resources, – the – human – back – in – human – resources 

19. For a more detailed discussion of this topic see the article: Gloom vs. Bloom of the Future of Work: Can we chart a positive Roadmap?” The European Business Review September – October 2017

20. Alison E. Berman. The Motivating Power of a Massive Transformative Purpose. – motivating – power – of – a-massive – transformative – purpose/

21. Artificial Intelligence and Life in 2039



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