Preparing a next generation that understands the value of human diversity and can navigate complexity *

Jutta Treviranus
11 min readJul 16, 2019
By Anonymous — Camille Flammarion, L’Atmosphère: Météorologie Populaire (Paris, 1888), pp. 163, Public Domain,

Education provides a powerful lever to address not only the symptoms but the causes of current global crises. However, formal education has modeled a hierarchical, competitive and exclusionary culture. Our pedagogical practices squander and suppress the most valuable quality in students; namely their uniqueness and diversity. Our educational value structure gives privileged place to the formulaic, replicable competencies that can be replaced by machines. Students are implicitly prepared to punch down rather than lift up those that are more vulnerable. If formal education systems continue on the same path, we are preparing our students to be replaced by machines. We are teaching them to compete and exclude, thereby contributing to societal and environmental collapse. There is a nascent global movement to reverse this trend; to foster a more inclusive culture. International partnerships have been building design strategies that empower students and youth to understand and value diversity, including their own unique differences, and to collaboratively navigate the complexity ahead.

My worry

One of the things that has troubled me lately is that it appears that the plethora of data and information has so overwhelmed us that it has displaced wisdom. At the same time, with truth under attack, we have retreated to an impoverished truth that is uni-perspectival and flat. We have constrained truth to measurable, transferable and therefore scalable surface evidence.

This is happening at a time when we are handing our intelligence and most of our decisions over to machines.[1] These machines will automate and amplify this mechanized version of a measurable truth. This will mean that what has not been true in the measurable past will likely not be true in the future because there is no evidence that it has a probability of success and therefore it will not be chosen. Past biases, past barriers will determine future opportunities. If someone measurably like me has never succeeded in university, someone like me won’t be admitted. If someone measurably like me has never successfully held a competitive job, someone like me will never be picked to be interviewed for the competitive job. The pattern will hold for…

Jutta Treviranus

Director, Inclusive Design Research Centre, OCAD University