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The Future Knowledge Compendium-bookcover

By: Peter Ellyard

The Future Knowledge Compendium

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Thriving in the 21st Century

Humans have a unique capability to both understand their situation in the world and to envision and act to realise their aspirations in the emerging world. And most of us would welcome knowing how we can become ever more skilful at both understanding, and shaping the future of, our emerging world, so that we can thrive in it. The 21st century is very different from the 20th century. Globalisation, the greatest economic prosperity uplifting machine humanity has ever invented, and mass education, are combining to sweep humanity into an emerging interdependent global village. It is creating a global educated middle class that will number 5 billion in 2030.

In this emerging world, a world where our future prosperity will be increasingly based on metaphysical wealth, on what we know, 20th century nation-first, competitive, win/lose, mindsets and agendas can no longer work. These now yesteryear mindsets will instead undermine our best endeavours, including making our future ever more climate and pandemic safe.

Humanity is now beginning to learn that it now has no option but to adopt planet-first, collaborative, win/win values and mindsets, if it wishes to shape our emerging global village so that it can become liveable for all: ever more prosperous, harmonious, inclusive, sustainable, healthy, and secure. Meeting these challenges successfully will require that humanity innovates for itself a new future knowledge curriculum so that it can economically thrive in a sustainable and humane manner.

Peter Ellyard has asked the question: what would be the contents of such a curriculum? In The Future Knowledge Compendium: A Curriculum for Thriving in the 21st Century, he has sought to answer this question.

Peter Ellyard is an Australian futurist, strategist, speaker, and author who lives
in Melbourne. Originally a biochemist, and a soil and plant scientist, he is a
graduate of Sydney University and Cornell University (Ph.D). He formally
became a futurist upon his appointment as CEO of the Australian Commission
for the Future in 1988. Peter’s work seeks to assist nations, organisations,
communities, and individuals to construct their own pathways to achieve future
success. Before working as a futurist, Peter held CEO positions in several public
sector organisations over eighteen years. These included two associated with
environment and planning and one with industry and technology. He was also
Senior Adviser in the office of three environment ministers in the Australian
Government in Canberra. Peter is a fellow of the Australian College of
Educators, the Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand, and the
Australian Institute of Management.
He has advised the United Nations system and has acted as a senior
adviser/consultant to the UNEP, UNDP, and UNESCO. Peter has worked in
several developing and transitional countries in South-East and East Asia and the
Pacific. He was a special adviser to the 1992 Earth Summit in the fields of
biodiversity and climate change. He contributed to the preparation of the
Framework Conventions in both these areas.
He is the father of two grown-up daughters and has one grandson. This is his
fourth book on futures.
He has more complete biographies on Wikipedia and at

Customer Reviews
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  • Robert Hall

    While some authors write about the demise of globalisation (for example, Goodbye Globalization: The Return of a Divided World by Elisabeth Braw), Peter Ellyard takes a different tact in The Future Knowledge Compendium. His view is much more optimistic, perhaps overly optimistic at times, offering a world of greater interdependence and harmony – a liveable global village – by 2050. To achieve this, he foretells of the end of the ‘Modernist popular movement and the remaining Modernist autocrats’ by 2035. That’s an ambitious, probably welcome, prediction in a relatively short historical timeframe. The notion of ‘Planetism’, a development of postmodernism, is the book’s central thesis. A new era of non-exploitive form of globalisation based on mutual benefit and win/win is emerging, it is argued. It would be good to think that ‘We are being forced to act collaboratively in the interests of all humanity’. Yet, there seems to be a global drag on this honourable sentiment that questions whether the 21st century will truly be ‘the century of interdependence’. The author believes that while tensions between those who strive for global integration and those who resist it ‘are likely to produce conflict for a while''...'most of these issues will be resolved within two decades at most’. This is optimistic talk. Mention of ‘Planetary Pariah Punishments’ for those leaders who do not match up to the challenge (Trump, Putin) will certainly be hard to enact, as will the recognition that ‘national politics will need to obey new emerging global political rules and agreements'—global g governance is a hard sell. ‘Extreme views of all kinds will decline’ is wishful thinking. ‘As for involuntary migration (refugees), there are reasons to believe this will first slow and then end in the mid-21st century’: evidence awaits. While we can all be hopeful, we should also be realistic; the author prefers ‘utopian realism’. Claims that ‘the Chinese government has avoided a too-hostile repression of dissident students in Hong Kong’ and that ‘the democratic transformation process [in China] will be largely completed by 2050’ or ‘the government of Afghanistan will ultimately evolve into a somewhat more autocratic version of a democratic Pakistan’ are ones to which perhaps only a futurist is entitled. The author recommends a curriculum and set of tools (69 concepts and tools in all) to help anyone create success for themselves in the future. He believes that the book is ‘possibly the first time anybody has attempted to create anything like an integrated curriculum for understanding the 21st century and thriving in it’. It is a justifiable tour de force of what is required: the question is can anyone implement the comprehensive toolkit in whole or large part. An academy is proposed as a network to help develop future knowledge. Most of the chapters of the book are devoted to exploring a self-knowledge industry to help shape the rest of this century. discussion of tools for six future-shaping tools (management, leadership, planning, design, innovation, and learning) led to many interesting and worthwhile points. The ‘Six Pillars of Liveability’ (prosperous, harmonious, inclusive, sustainable, healthy, and secure) are perhaps self-evident. The chapter of ‘Reimagining Sustainability’ mentions resilience without reflecting on the difference in terminology. The chapter on education and learning introduces ‘The Seven Modes of 21st century Learning', which is a valuable contribution to this important aspect. As if to nail his colours firmly to the mast of globalisation, the author concludes that ‘Globalization is the biggest economic prosperity-uplifting machine that has ever been created.’ This is a ringing rebuke to those who think it is ending. He quotes Nelson Mandela, who believed ‘humanity must globalise responsibility to ensure it avoids creating islands of plenty in seas of poverty.’ The book is an enjoyable and worthwhile read.

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