Ferienuni – Organizing the Crisis
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Digital Futures & Human Development After COVID-19: Coming back to the “Socialist Alteration of Man” (Vygotsky, 1930)
Prof. Michalis Kontopodis, Chair in Global Childhood & Youth Studies, University of Leeds

According to a recent study, at least 17 million people will need to altogether change their profession in the US, due to the automation and digitalisation of production and consumption by 2030 (which is a 25% higher estimation than before the COVID-19 pandemic). Already 100 years earlier i.e., in 1930, L.S. Vygotsky tried to anticipate the implications of such technological progress on human development in his article published in VARNITSO* with the title "The socialist alteration of Man". The careful reader can recognise in Vygotsky's writing the influences of the "German Ideology", a set of manuscripts written by Marx & Engels in 1846 (which was published in 1932 & accessible before publication to academics in Moscow). 

How can one think of the present-day technological and psycho-social changes through the lenses of these classic scholars, in the aftermath of a global pandemic i.e., in a world that is more interconnected than ever before in the human history, as well as increasingly divided? What are the implications of these developments for children, young people and education? My talk will explore these questions by revisiting case studies from a series of research projects, while exploring, in specific, how to best support disadvantaged children and young people to imagine yet unknown futures across urban and rural settings. Relevant readings & further details can be found through my blog: https://mkontopodis.wordpress.com/

*VARNITSO, Journal of All-Union Association of Workers in Science & Technics for the Furthering of the Socialist Edification in the USSR (Engl. transl. of the article by Vygotsky published in 1994 in Vygotsky Reader by van der Veer & Valsiner)

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Michalis Kontopodis,
Prof. Michalis Kontopodis is a Chair in Global Childhood and Youth Studies at the School of Education, University of Leeds. Prof. Kontopodis's scholarship aims at (a) addressing challenges related to global debt, poverty and marginalisation; (b) innovating pedagogies with new media and digital technologies; (c) deciphering the multiple links between child health, ecology and technoscience. In collaboration with a wide network of academics, practitioners, NGOs, community organisations and policy makers, Prof. Kontopodis conducts research on inclusive and equitable quality education, digital transformation and globalisation “from below”. His books, edited volumes and journal articles have been published in 6 languages; for further details please visit https://mkontopodis.wordpress.com/