Introduction to What Lies Behind the Scenario

Beyond borders

Dear Reader of this Booklet,

Here you’ll find information on how the future scenario was created and the facts on which it’s been based. Find out why the business of hairdressing is a good example of borderless networking and why the Global Human Gym will transform how pupils are taught in school. Have fun!

The concept of the Global Human Gym (GHG) is a further development of the idea behind the European Union’s student exchange project (Erasmus) and its programme for transnational cooperation in education (Socrates). Erasmus is the world’s largest programme for university stays abroad and its positive effects have been well documented.

The term “Global Human Gym” is a play on words that expands the notion of the fitness studio as the place where physical and mental fitness is developed and links it to the notion of lifelong learning. There are now two additional new features of this student-exchange scenario: first, the stay lasts much longer and, second, participation is no longer voluntary but compulsory. The vast majority of Erasmus participants describe their experience as having been beneficial to their future lives. Making this stay abroad compulsory would therefore give more people access to such positive experiences – even more so if the costs were to be covered by the state. In the African state of Botswana, the government has forcibly transferred teachers and civil servants to other regions of the country to promote both understanding between ethnic groups and nation-building.

Hairdressing is one of the professions in which international exchange has long been common. The inventor of the perm, Karl Ludwig Nessler, for instance, worked in Basel, Milan, Geneva, Paris, London and the USA. Hairstyles are not only an attractive accessory, but can also be a political statement or an expression of an idiosyncratic personality.

The interpreting chip in Tengo’s ear used in the scenario for overcoming language barriers is already on the market in several versions. Some of these chips translate with the help of mobile phones, while others use their own software. They’re not yet perfect, but they can translate up to 40 languages almost simultaneously. So far, these devices are mostly used for professional purposes and in small groups.

The chosen examples are representative of projects in which participants can get involved in a variety of ways. Mangrove projects on the Mekong serve to preserve the biosphere, as well as to protect the region’s inhabitants against the consequences of climate change and to improve their economic situation. The process of coming to terms with the genocide in Rwanda has been initiated by means of the legal system and regional Gacaca courts, while the collective-memory projects and archives are meant to support the reconciliation process.

It seems logical that the Global Human Gym will change the ways in which children are taught at school. By means of a wide web of contacts, locals will be given the chance to have their say when it comes to lessons dealing with their own countries. “Biodiversity” as a new teaching subject will – in the spirit of Alexander von Humboldt – break down the outdated separation of biology, chemistry, physics and geography.