If we want the Earth to be able to meet the needs of its human population, society must undergo a transformation. Thus, tomorrow's world must be fundamentally different than the one we know today. We must therefore work toward building a “feasible future.” Democracy, equality and social justice, and peace and harmony with our natural environment: these must be the key words for this future world. In this context, UNESCO asked Edgar Morin to express his ideas in the very essence of future education, under the theme of "Complex Thought." In the framework of evolution towards fundamental changes in our lifestyle and behavior, education - in the widest sense of the word - plays an essential role. Education is the “force of the future”, because it constitutes one of the most powerful instruments for driving change. One of the toughest challenges will be how to alter our thought so as to face the increasing complexity, the speed of change and the unpredictable nature of our world. We should reconsider the organization of knowledge. In order to do this we must break down the traditional barriers between disciplines and develop the means of bringing back together what has until now been separate. We must re-formulate our education policies and programs. In making these changes it is vital to keep looking ahead on the long term, towards the world of future generations towards whom we have a huge responsibility.
In the context of his vision of “Complex Thought”, Edgar Morin’s essay was published by UNESCO as a contribution to the international debate on how to redirect education towards sustainable development. Edgar Morin presents seven key principles which he considers necessary for future education. His ideas can open up a debate which contributes to helping teachers and leaders to clarify their own thoughts on this vital issue.
The paper does not aim to be a catalog of subjects to be taught, but to look at a selection of fundamental issues that have been completely ignored or forgotten and are, according to the author, necessary for education in the twenty-first century. These are: the problem of the learning process itself and human knowledge, and the absence of reflection on these; the principles for interrelated knowledge beyond its division into disciplines, teaching of the human condition, teaching earth or planet identity; awareness of human and scientific uncertainties and teaching strategies to tackle them, teaching the very process of human comprehension, and finally the ethics of the human species.