The sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, the 2010 winner of Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities, visited Universidad Europea to reflect on the role that education plays in a world in constant flux, as part of the “Education. Educate to Transform” forum. During the event, Bauman recalled that universities should have the same role as in the past: "to promote the emancipation of mankind generating knowledge and tools to build the future." Furthermore, he stated, this role of the university is directly needed by the young people present in the room: "You are the first generation that does not believe that your standard of living will be better than their parents, the first generation since World War II that is on the defensive and not the offensive. There can be no revolution without momentum, and for this we must believe in the possibility of change. To fight the crisis, we must find alternative ways of collective action. The XXI century will have to answer the question of how to reconcile the power, the ability to do things, and politics, the ability to decide what should be done."
His presentation, entitled "Education in Modern Liquidity", shared the main changes that this new situation involves in the field of education as well as its three primary challenges "what makes the current crisis different from those of the past is that it affects the roots of the educational system much more deeply."
The first of these challenges is the amount of information available and its ability to grow at a rapid pace. The second challenge is the tyranny of time and the speed at which things change around us for educators. "We have lost the ability to think long term. The liquid world is so fast that you have to live each moment separately. The straight line of progress has been disintegrated to a pointillist vision of separate points in time, as in painting, it creates a consistent image at a distance. It is increasingly difficult to generate a narrative, assign an order and sequence of development. The fragments become hegemonic, we see the trees but we lose sight of the forest." The third challenge is the breakdown of human relationships between teacher and student, which for centuries established the ideal environment for education. "The teacher not only informed, but undertook very extensive work to shape the character of his disciples and their attitudes to life. They were the gateway to information, which guarded the gates of knowledge. Now, however, they have to compete from a disadvantaged position, and do not have this preferential relationship with students."
This article has been translated into English to be shared on the Laureate International Universities website.