Dr Tracey Burns: What Schools for Tomorrow? Futures Thinking and Leading in Uncertain Times


Tracey Burns is Strategic Advisor and Distinguished Research Fellow at the National Center on Education and the Economy in Washington, DC. She is seconded to this position from the OECD's Directorate for Education and Skills, where she was Chief of Research for the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation. She is additionally an Expert in the UNESCO Broadband Commission and was also previously an expert for their International Commission on the Future of Education.

Tracey has authored numerous articles, reports, books, and book chapters, most recently What Schools for the Future? Leadership for Uncertainty; Trends Shaping Education 2022; Back to the Future of Education: Four OECD Scenarios for Schooling; Education in the Digital Age: Happy and Healthy Children and Educating 21st Century Children: Emotional Well-Being in the Digital Age.

Previous to her time at the OECD she conducted research on language acquisition in children and newborn infants and was an award-winning lecturer on child development. Tracey holds a B.A. from McGill University, Canada, and a PhD in experimental psychology from Northeastern University, United States.

What Schools for Tomorrow? Futures Thinking and Leading in Uncertain Times

In her paper What Schools for Tomorrow? Futures Thinking and Leading in Uncertain Times (2020) Dr Burns argues that futures thinking is an essential component to leading education systems in increasingly uncertain times. The global COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying economic, physical, and social disruption was a painful and all-too-real reminder that comfortable assumptions about the future can change in an instant. In fact, there are always multiple versions of the future – some are assumptions, others hopes and fears. To prepare, we must consider not only the changes that appear most probable, but also the ones we are not expecting. In this opening keynote address, Dr Burns shall argue that we need to build long-term strategic thinking in education and reinforce futures thinking to help identify potential opportunities and challenges.


View the full ISNZ Annual Conference 2022 Programme here.


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