More on WST 2017’s three plenary speakers

We have three great speakers for WST 2017 – the poet David Whyte, the Head of our own School of Education, Dympna Devine, and tech guru Joe Drumgoole – who, together, provide the backbone to our day on March 15.

Together, David, Dympna and Joe will help us stand back from out daily desks and look closer at the environments we inhabit and which are changing around us.

We are all used to the idea of life and work as a journey – David bring a poet’s imagination to the world of business and work, seeing life as a conversation, and looking at how we live with the constant calls on our creativity, dedication and adaptability. David, for us, will anchor the day in the personal, recognising how much a part of our life our work world is, how much more work is than the thing we do when we’re not busy living our lives elsewhere. Perhaps only a poet would look for the space for the souls in work and how work also shapes the soul, as he did in his intriguing “The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America”.

Dympna’s session will draw our attention to some of the key shapes emerging from the mists of the looming educational landscape. Talk of the demographic wave of rising college age teenagers, due to peak in 2025, is familiar to us all as are the echoes we hear of arguments around Ireland’s second level system and how it must change. How the digital native generation engages with learning, how rankings now outrank rational analysis, how multiple cultures and identities are accommodated and welcomed, how values of what ‘counts’ in, and as, education are open to change. So what are some of the changes, some of the questions we should be paying attention to as we anticipate the next ten years of UCD students? As we look up from our desk tops and take a moment to consider what’s coming our way, just what are the shapes looming, what landscape we will be navigating?

Joe closes the day out by showing us that the technological future we’re unsure of is probably already here. We sense an ever increasing rate of technological change – perhaps every generation does – with an almost sci fi world spoken of as taking shape around us. Things we take as givens now – coffee coming in pods, wearable phones, intelligent fridges, driverless cars, silent iChildren in the living room, Tweeting presidents – were, needless to say, far from our imagination ten years ago, yet most of the novel things we can take for granted now were around, in some form, there to be seen ten years ago. Technology enhances, disrupts, changes, creates new worlds. Having started in the personal, then looked at the looming educational landscape, Joe is going to explore the futures already here and just arriving.

And so we have our three plenary sessions.  As I write we are just two months away from WST 2017.  Looking forward to it!