The Conversations: Using foresight to shape the future

Summary from the discussion

The Conversations "Using foresight to the help shape the future" moderated by Mr. Andrew Glass. The 3 speakers were Dr Kenisha Garnett, lecturer in Decision Science, researcher with expertise in strategic foresight, Center of Environment and Agriculture Informatics, Cranfield University. Prof Dr Sansanee Chaiyaroj, former Vice President for Research, Academic Affairs, International Relations, Mahidol University. At present, she is an executive director of Siam Bio Co., Ltd. Asst Prof Dr Akkharawit Kanjana-Opas, Vice President of the National Science and Technology Development Agency. (NASTDA), and Chief Executive Officer of Food Innopolis. 

Dr Kenisha asserted that foresight is a strategic planning tool. It is looking back to the past experiences to use as a basis for anticipation of the future. The foresight process requires regular scanning of documents to monitor the changes. However, foresight is not static documents or instruments. They must be regularly revised or updated. Foresight is a process. Oftentimes, the main owners of foresight process are ones who will utilize the process output to support their decisions or policies. The scope of persons involved in the foresight process should include all stakeholders and policy makers.

With regard to higher education institutions, universities need to think about skillsets necessary for cohorts and assess whether the graduates are equipped with skills enough for digitalization of industrial sector. Foresight skill is a driver of sustainability, because students with foresight skill can appropriately function and think at the level required in the business which helps the business sectors to move forward.

When compared with traditional analysis tools, foresight explores different alternative scenarios of future which challenges traditional mindset and requires out-of-the-box thinking. However, foresight has its deficiencies, especially from aspect of evidence-based culture or decision-making culture, but it opens space for strategic conversation.

Prof Dr Sansanee mentioned things to be considered in the foresight process, such as limited resources from the government. So, foresight needs strategic planning and roadmap. In educational sector, university reinvention requires participation from different groups of universities, with the focus on future challenges and objectives of each university. The foresight process is very new. Thai universities need to be more self-reliant, create immunity, build security, and need to be very resilience if a crisis happens. Thai universities need to upskill, reskill the students and equip them with digital literacy and English proficiency in preparation for the future transitional period.

Asst Prof Dr Akkharawit added some opinions on the skillsets. He asserted that universities need to change the mindset before changing any skillsets. At present, personnel in higher education have to change the mindset and accept technology as a channel to provide knowledge to students. He did not believe that foresight is better than other analysis tools, but foresight makes organizations more resilient and agile. Universities can contribute to economic development by producing manpower and assets to be a capital for the future of Thailand to be based upon. Higher education institutions can build capacity of the country through their transformation. However, universities cannot produce personnel through the traditional way in the changing environment inside and outside Thailand.  


About the Higher Education Partnership Programme

Thai-UK Higher Education Partnerships (Thai-UK HEP) programme was developed in partnership with the Office of the Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation. The programme was designed in alignment with national policy to equip academic and staff at all levels to meet industry demands and enable internationalisation of the education environment.

HEP will lead to an active environment and engagement between Thai and UK institutions, and enhance internationalisation of higher education institutions of both Thailand and UK and build on the capacity of leadership in Thai institutions, which will increase opportunity for running stronger collaboration for academics, researchers and students.