Atul Dighe Kicks Off Lecture Series

Vermont is changing.Even those who have been here for a small number of years recognize the differences from the Vermont of recent past. To the students of Vermont, the ever changing landscape prompts little concern, but to the permanent citizens and many others the preservation of the present Vermont is total necessity. However, “fear of losing the most cherished aspects of this state and resistance to change,” says futurist and consultant Atul Dighe “can prevent you from shaping the future.” Dighe is a consultant with the Institute for Alternative Futures and has been brought to Vermont to assess our possibilities for the future of Vermont. Dighe has worked as a consultant with NASA, the futures research firm Coats & Jarratt, and was the featured Aiken Lecturer Thursday the 29th. Dighe believes that there are four main questions that will determine Vermont’s growth over the next few decades: “How will Vermont’s youth influence the marketplace in the coming decades? What new models of education need to be created so that our students can be proficient in the new technological marketplace, and how can adult education opportunities be created? How is a balance between individual growth and communal identity established? And how can a physical and social infrastructure that will help the needs of future Vermonters be created?” While Dighe agrees that there are many aspects of Vermont worth preserving, he also warns that “change and growth are inevitable. Vermonters need to ask themselves, ‘what values do we want to preserve and what changes can we embrace?'” Dighe believes a major influence of change will be the education system here in Vermont. “This area was built for the industrial age and much of the economy is an outgrowth of the agricultural business,” said Dighe, “We’re in a new world where those kind of metaphors are no longer applicable. We need to change the K-12 school structure to create specialized modern workers who can compete in a technologically elite world.” Citizens of Vermont have a huge advantage over other larger and more densely populated states in that our government is more directly influenced by the individual citizen. Communication between officials and citizens is not as muddled and slow as in places where the gap between community and government is wide, and Dighe encourages Vermonters to take this advantage in shaping their own future.