Editor-in-Chief Lecture


Professor of Higher Education Planning and Development, Institute for Research and Planning in Higher Education, Tehran, Iran


udent of higher education and before taking this auspicious office, I would like to share my thoughts with a brief introduction in six paragraphs followed by a short statement on the evolution of the climate of knowledge and higher education.
First, future studies in Iran’s higher education is a "research program" which like any other research program, expands and develops over time and that in addition to epistemological significance also has emotional value for researchers and audience. This happens when both researchers and readers want to know it well that what matters them the most. This is something that has become meaningless to us and we don't have any excitement about it, hence; maybe it doesn't really matter much whether it will have a future or not? And if so, then what kind of future will it have? Therefore, it is necessary for us to be sensitive on the issue whether higher education in Iran still has supporters and beneficiaries who consider it as cognitively and emotionally important in a sense that their hearts beat for its future and know what possibilities lie ahead of their most favored higher education? 
Second, the future research in Iran, including its higher education, is important when we have spatial attachment to this land. As such, we must gather all our sensitivities so that our deep attachment to this water and soil, including its knowledge-acquiring centers, universities, and higher education, remain relevant to the extent that we will constantly want to pursue the study for the future of the motherland, the flow of life as well as the flow of learning and knowledge creation in it. 
Third, another possible condition for the future research in Iran’s higher education is that we must have this noble sense of self-efficacy that we are still serious actors of the present and the future of this land, that is, the thought of agency and activity remains with us. The Iranian researcher is motivated to the future study of higher education when his mind is still opulent. Let us not fall to the bottom and into mental and emotional fatigue. Can we expect from an old mind to sit and think about his future!
Fourth, scientific enthusiasm, research spirit and discovery are among high-level needs and a sense of human self-actualization that according to Inglehart, are most needed. When human values cast a shadow on behavior, they often want to pull their rug out of the water and keep themselves afloat. Serious studies, especially future studies, cannot be expected in such circumstances. If that is the state of the present situation, there is no room for thinking about the future, whether research or higher education.
Fifth, every nation needs its own story. People who have a story as well as civilizational and cultural memory, the same can become a great source of the continuity of a nation's history and lineage and makes them sensitive towards their future. When we have Gendi Shapur, Baytul-Hikmeh, Khwarazmi and Biruni in our memory, we are also curious about the future of our history. At the same time, clinging too much to ideologies built from the past can dominate our environment and relationships in the form of false knowledge, and lead to a closed identity and prevent us from thinking about change and building the future. A large part of future research is based on the spirit of transformation and scenario of "alternative thinking". Future research will be meaningful when our identity search is open and inclined to new and different experiences.
Sixth, the future of Iran's higher education, whether good or bad, is socially constructed. In order to create a preferred and desirable future among all possible and probable ones, it is indeed necessary to provide all means for the participation of scientists, critical thinkers and independent researchers in this land. In other words, futuristic research, more than any other interdisciplinary knowledge, depends on scientific freedom, critical thinking and social rationality. Future research is an epistemological and social system of a scholarly effort to investigate and understand future fields and alternative options, by creating a platform for dialogue and a satisfactory search of a network of stakeholders in order to gain insight into discrete futures (especially in a world with complex content in a state of chaos) and to think and act proactively about them. Without the companionship of critical minds and conflicting subjects, it is impossible to achieve a satisfactory understanding of future developments of higher education as well as a proactive action towards it. 
We are thrown into very different futures than higher education where probably we have neither an adequate understanding nor we are prepared to live in. We need environmental scanning for a future research. Different models are applied such as PEST or STEEP_V and internal and external conflicts model. Another model is "Seven Climates" from Barnett. The seven climates of university are deeply involved in discontinuity and epochal developments. The entire ecosystem is transformed with the climate of science and technology, climate of citizens, climate of culture, climate of society, climate of economy, climate of nature and, climate of learning.
There is nothing left in the higher education environment that does not change. With these ecological transformations, huge dinosaurs will become extinct, and only those creatures will survive that show creative, self-aware and thoughtful adaptation to these discrete changes. Look at the only item i.e. Internet what it has done to us. The whole social and cultural mentality and relationships, including the world of education and learning, have deeply surprised us and are constantly working and will not stop.
Will academics become obsolete against the so-called "ideal technological man"? Will the excessive mediation of technique cause the world deviate from higher education? The trans-human world will transform the nature and faculty of our higher education; Internet of things and Internet of thoughts, cyborgs and metaverse and in other cases microchips and nanorobots are implanted in the bodies of university students, teachers and administrators, transform our intellectual performance, working memory and entire cognitive and emotional activities, and very inevitably, educational and research actions are transformed into unimaginable dimensions. So let's conclude that just one item of the transformation of information and communications technologies and virtual networking and digital consumption, in a contradictory way, is a problem for us but at the same time a solution. What will be the future of this problem and what do we do with it? The policymaking experience of these four decades has shown that we have always wanted to move with time and did not have an intelligent and creative understanding of changes in the Iranian ecosystem and were often asynchronous with changes in the global lifestyle. I hope that this special issue, which was made possible by scientific efforts of Iranian writers inside and outside of the country and the respected referees of these articles, as well as the praiseworthy efforts of the quarterly’s executive director, Mahnaz Shahalizadeh, and finally, the encouragement of the editor and the members of the editorial board, it will be useful for researchers and policymakers and all social actors and further its discussions will be taken seriously in the third world which is an intersubjective world.

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