- Human society is in continuous movement, physically or politically, willing or not . With digitalization and global warming, the pace of change has increased, and unpredictability has grown, challenging society and its institutions to evolve within a highly globalized and interactive environment, while facing even higher uncertainty in the future. Around the globe, all segments of human activity share the challenges of change, often organized as Turbulence, Uncertainty, Novelty and Ambiguity (TUNA) . For sectors that inherently depend on natural resources of biological origin, such as forestry, the stakes are even higher. Where rotation periods span decades and in some cases generations, uncertainty is even more relevant. The forest sector challenges go beyond what other sectors face, as the sector embodies the paradox of being regarded as an economic resource, and as an expected mitigator of climate change. Among forestry stakeholders, the academy has a unique condition as it hosts skilled professionals, experts of the many segments of the industry who, together, can think “in and out of the box”, to develop solutions for pressing problems, explore the unknown, and prepare the next generation of professionals for uncertain futures. In this project I tested a scenario planning tool for its potential to help higher education institutions integrate uncertainty in their strategic planning processes. The main objective was to study the relevance of the tool for higher education institutions and the feasibility of its use and implementation. The project consisted of three phases: 1) Identification of the main trends that influence higher education institutions today; 2) Two separate workshops, attended by faculty and graduate students, where scenarios were developed based on the Oxford Scenario Planning Approach deductive method, from Oxford University. Both workshops sought to answer, “what is the future of forestry higher education institutions?” 3) Qualitative study based on an unstructured interview held with each individual participant. The trends were used as a resource for the workshops and the scenarios developed were assessed for completeness and comprehension of the outcomes by participants. The results for the thesis were collected from the interviews and analyzed according to a qualitative study. The main conclusions were: 1) Scenarios are relevant for forestry higher education institutions and feasible to be used. 2) There are significant challenges to adoption and implementation of scenarios; 3) To prepare the new generation of professionals with premises of scenarios is the most promising path to sensitize the forest sector to the TUNA forces; 4) A conclusion related to secondary goals of the project is that there is a huge opportunity for higher education institutions to become leaders in a knowledge based economy but these institutions need to overcome internal obstacles.
By presenting the concepts of TUNA forces and applying the scenario tool I hope to have contributed to these organizations to be best prepared for the challenges and opportunities in education and technology development in the future.