2014, Issue 163

Welcome to the Club of Amsterdam Journal.

Our January Season Event is about the future of Urban Mobility
Thursday, January 30, 18:30 - 21:15.
Wim Korver, Head of Research & Development Unit, Goudappel Coffeng, Robert Dingemanse, Co-founder and CEO, PAL-V, Nick Cohn, Senior Business Developer, TomTom and Rohit Talwar, CEO, Fast Future Research

February Season Event is about the future of Learning
Thursday, February 27, 18:30 - 21:15

A collaboration between THNK, the Amsterdam School of Creative Leadership and the Club of Amsterdam

Felix F Bopp, Founder & Chairman


The impact of culture on education

January Event: the future of Urban Mobility

February Event: the future of Learning

Meat Atlas

Architecture and urbanism as a potent lever to contribute to an ongoing paradigmatical shift in world balances

Club of Amsterdam blog

News about the Future

Recommended Book: Diversity Pedagogy: Examining the Role of Culture in the Teaching-Learning Process

Illuminating textiles

Futurist Portrait: Janna Quitney Anderson


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.The impact of culture on education

Huib Wursten, Senior Partner, itim International
Carel Jacobs is senior consultant/trainer for itim in The Netherlands, he is also Certification Agent for the Educational Sector of the Hofstede Centre.

Can we introduce best practices in education across countries?

As a result of globalization, many people are becoming interested in ranking systems which show how their own countries compare with others on a variety of measures. The World Economic Forum publishes an annual ranking of countries on economic competitiveness; the United Nations a ranking on human development; the OECD publishes comparisons on the quality of healthcare systems. Even a ranking system for "happiness" can be found.

In this paper we will explore the outcome of ranking countries on the quality of education. In particular we will focus on a recent report "The Learning Curve" (2013) published by The Economist Magazine's Intelligence Unit. In this report an attempt was made to look for "best practices" - approaches that systematically lead to higher quality education thereby enabling policy makers and practitioners in other countries to simply "copy and paste" and work towards educational reforms that have proven effective in raising educational achievement in some countries. The surprising conclusion from this report, however, is that almost no practices were found that could be implemented globally. The authors explain that while the inputs to education - like money, school choice, years in school, and teacher-pupil ratio's - can be identified; and outputs can be compared looking at ranking systems on measures of literacy, numeracy, and educational attainment; what happens between input and output is very much a local issue. They describe this country-specific process as a "black box", implying that there is no systematic way to describe how the differences in the teaching/learning process transforms inputs into outputs.

We will show that well-researched systematic differences in value preferences across countries are vital for understanding the way teaching/learning processes are handled. Using the seminal work of Geert Hofstede on cultural differences, we will show that the five culture dimensions he found provides an analytical tool for understanding the local differences in educational policy and teaching methods in school systems. Based on this cross-cultural framework, we ask a fundamental question: is it possible to find best practices that work worldwide in spite of these value differences?

In short this article attempts to:
Summarize recent rankings of educational performance across countries and the influence of culture on these ranking systems.

  • Describe what culture is and how it influences the way we educate and learn.
  • Analyze "best practices", i.e. can we export practices across cultures. Can we learn from each other while being so different?
  • Enlarge the discussion of some key issues in education by incorporating a cultural perspective.

I. Ranking educational systems worldwide

In the field of education there are several systems used to compare educational quality across countries, including: Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS); Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS); and the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). These approaches focus on benchmarking the factors leading to achievement and, more specifically, trying to identify what specific factors differentiate the highest achievers. As professor Schleicher (OECD) says: "education debates are no longer about the improvement by national standards. Best performing countries now set the tone".

Recently the Economist Intelligence Unit of the Economist Magazine published a new ranking system: the Learning Curve Data Bank LCDB: country performance in education. This report outlines the main findings from a large body of internationally comparable education data. In the report they provide an overall ranking (column 1) by comparing cognitive skills attainment (column 2) which combines the results from the PIRLS, TIMMS and Pisa systems, and scores of countries on the highest degree of education individuals complete: "educational attainment" (column 3).

The top 20 countries are shown below:

The most interesting result of the analyses, as summarized in this report, is "how few correlations there are". In order to explain this result, one observation is that in any number of surveys researchers measure what is measurable. Usually inputs are identified more than outputs because they are simpler and easier to measure. However, the "softer" inputs of education tend to be left out. The authors conclude: "These inputs, however can be crucial, such as the cultural context in which education occurs." The difficulty the writers admit is: "how do you disentangle deeply embedded cultural values from social and educational policies?" The quality and approach of teachers plays a big role in this. Teachers are key transmitters of cultural values. Much research has focused on: "what education systems can do to ensure that they find teachers who add value". But even here the report concludes that "the rules tend to be country specific."
The how and what of education is very much connected to the culture of the country at hand. A lot of different ideas exist about the role and position of the teacher as well as expectations around the "right" behavior of students. These key elements again are highly linked to cultural values. In the Economist report culture is discussed only in a very generic way. Education remains, in the words of The Economist, "a black box (*5) in which inputs are turned into outputs in ways that are difficult to predict or quantify consistently.

Looking at the black box above, we believe that it can be opened. We will outline how culture can be used as the key. Culture, however, is a vague term and is used in very different ways.

II. What is culture? How does culture influence the learning process?

a. About culture: the research of Geert Hofstede

We will first delve a little bit deeper in this notion of "culture". As a starting point we take the results of the scientific research by professor Geert Hofstede. Hofstede is widely recognized as the one who did the most fundamental research on cultural differences(*6,7,8,9). He defines culture as "the collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from others". Hofstede carried out fundamental research into the dominant values of countries and the way in which they influence behavior in organizations. Original data were based on an extensive IBM database for which 116,000 questionnaires were used in 72 countries and in 20 languages.

The results of his research were validated against about 40 cross-cultural studies from a variety of disciplines. Analyzing his data, Hofstede found five value clusters (or "dimensions") being the most fundamental in understanding and explaining the differences in answers to the single questions in his questionnaires. He measured the differences and calculated scores for 56 countries on these 5 dimensions. Later research, partly done by others have extended this to about a 100 countries. The combined scores for each country explain variations in behavior of people and organizations. The scores indicate the relative differences between cultures.

The five dimensions of national culture identified by Hofstede are:

  • Power Distance Index (PDI)
  • Individualism vs. collectivism (IDV)
  • Masculinity vs. femininity (MAS)
  • Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI)
  • Long Term Orientation (LTO)

Country scores on each dimension are ranked from low to high, i.e. from 0 to 100.

Please note that the score of a country is not meant to imply that everyone in a particular society is programmed in exactly the same way. There are considerable individual differences. But when fundamental values of various societies are compared, 'majority preferences' are found to exist, which occur again and again as a result of the way children are brought up by their parents and the educational system. And when we examine how societies organize themselves, these majority preferences turn out to have a modifying influence at all levels. They have an influence on the ways teacher and students are expected to behave. Even the ideas of the objectives of education are stated in different ways. For example in some countries the objective of education is: to develop a critical mind, which in other cultures is viewed as absurd. In these countries students are supposed to try to learn as much as possible from the older generation and only when you are fully initiated you may communicate to have ideas of yourself.


Read the full article
click here


Huib Wursten is a speaker at the future of Learning

.January Event: the future of Urban Mobility

the future of Urban Mobility


Thursday, January 30, 2013, 18:30 - 21:15
Location: Info.nl - Sint Antoniesbreestraat 16, 1011 HB Amsterdam
[Next to Nieuwmarkt]
Tickets: Euro 30, Euro 20 (Members etc.) or Euro 10 (Students)

Ticket Corner

This event is supported by Info.nl & TPEX (TelePresence EXchange International)

The speakers and topics are

Wim Korver, Head of Research & Development Unit, Goudappel Coffeng
The 21 century: the end of the car mobility as we know it

Robert Dingemanse, Co-founder and CEO, PAL-V
Flying cars, how will it affect future mobility?

Nick Cohn
, Senior Business Developer, TomTom
TomTom on Urban Mobility: The Future is Now

Rohit Talwar, CEO, Fast Future Research
Global Forces Shaping Urban Mobility

... and get your tickets

.February Event: the future of Learning

the future of Learning
The impact of culture on teaching and early learning.


Thursday, February 27, 2014, 18:30--21:15

THNK, Haarlemmerweg 8a, 1014 BE Amsterdam (Westergasfabriek)
Tickets: Euro 30, Euro 20 (Members etc.) or Euro 10 (Students)
Ticket Corner
The conference language is English.

A collaboration between THNK, the Amsterdam School of Creative Leadership and the Club of Amsterdam.

Our event will take inspiration and use elements of the THNK Forum format which is designed to deepen dialogue and elevate discussion by asking questions and re-framing issues to lead to surprising insights.

Beyond the lecture model
The traditional way to impart knowledge has been the lecture and question-and-answer session. The message is usually completely fixed before it is communicated. The question-and-answer session allows the audience to get clarification and to put in critical comments. But it is also often unfocused, because questions are dealt with haphazardly as they are raised.

Going out of our comfort zone
Participants ask the questions and structure the dialogue; they share the responsibility for an interesting outcome. It requires commitment and courage. The experts in creative leadership are encouraged to ask questions of the participants, to make it a true dialogue; this means it’s a two-way street, and participants need to abandon the comfortable position of being the only ones asking questions.

Our "thought starters" are:

Emer Beamer, Social Designer and Educator. Founder at Unexpect, co-founder at Butterfly Works and NairoBits
Education's Blind Spots

Huib Wursten
Senior Partner,
itim International

Can we introduce "best practices" in education across countries?

... and get your tickets

.Meat Atlas

Meat Atlas: facts and figures about the animals we eat

by Heinrich Böll Foundation and Friends of the Earth Europe

How overconsumption and intensive meat production wrecks the planet

Intensive meat and dairy production is having an increasingly devastating impact on society and the environment.

The way we produce and consume meat and dairy needs a radical rethink. Our industrialised production system is untenable, according to the report, since it depends on scarce land and water resources, and passes on hidden costs to the consumer. Curbs on corporate control over food need to be implemented, it says, to reduce the impact on society and the environment.

The Meat Atlas aims to catalyse the debate over the need for better, safer and more sustainable food and farming and advocates clear individual and political solutions.

Adrian Bebb, senior food, agriculture and biodiversity campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said: "Diet is no longer a private matter. Every time we eat, we are making a political choice, and we are impacting upon the lives of people around the world, on the environment, biodiversity and the climate. Huge amounts of resources go into the food on our plates. Sustainable alternatives exist to the dominant destructive, corporate-controlled and intensive global system for producing and consuming meat."

The report outlines the impact of intensive meat and dairy production on freshwater usage and land. Worldwide agriculture consumes 70% of available freshwater, one third of which goes towards raising livestock. The increasingly intensive livestock sector is also one of largest consumers of land and edible crops, with more than 40% of the annual output of wheat, rye, oats and maize used for animal feed, and with one third of the world's 14 billion hectares of cultivated land used to grow it.

To produce a kilo of beef requires 15,500 litres of water – the same amount required to produce 12 kilos of wheat or 118 kilos of carrots. To make a hamburger requires more than 3.5 square metres of land.

Barbara Unmüßig, President Heinrich Boell Foundation: "Intensive meat production isn't just torture for animals. It destroys the environment, and devours great chunks of our raw materials which we import from the global South as animal feed. After China, Europe is the biggest importer of soya. Argentina and Brazil are dramatically increasing their soya cultivation, and it's being fed almost exclusively to the animals we slaughter. Rising meat consumption is forcing up land prices. This has devastating consequences: Nearly a third of the world's land is being used to grow animal feed. Meanwhile, small farmers are losing their land and their livelihoods. That schnitzel on our plates jeopardises the food security of many people in the global South."

The report also warns that the trade talks between the
EU and the US risk pushing food and farming standards down on both sides of the Atlantic. Big food and biotech companies want to lift EU restrictions on genetically modified (GM) foods and animal feeds, and are challenging consumer labelling laws. They also want to undermine the EU's 'precautionary principle' which sets food safety standards, and aim to further globalise and industrialise the meat industry.

There are solutions, and the organisations urge legislators to reform the livestock sector. The Sustainable Food Communication, due to be launched by the European Commission in spring 2014, should address dietary issues, underlining the basic right to a nutritious diet based on seasonal and local food, which is grown sustainably, respects cultural diversity, and includes a smaller daily intake of good quality meat, according to the organisations.

Download the full report as *.pdf
click here

.Architecture and urbanism as a potent lever to contribute to an
.ongoing paradigmatical shift in world balances

BC architects and studies is one group trying to conceive, create and practice architecture and urbanism as a potent lever to contribute to an ongoing paradigmatical shift in world balances.

"We prefer to work with ecological materials such as wood, straw bale, earth and stone construction, in a contemporary architecture and a well-considered design. Since one spends his or her time living and sleeping mainly inside buildings, we have minute attention for the health effects of construction techniques and materials. We advice self-builders in the design and construction of their home, as well as we love to make renovations or additions to existing buildings."

Library of Muyinga
The first library of Muyinga, part of a future inclusive school for deaf children, in locally sourced compressed earth blocks, built with a participatory approach.

Sama & Kasa
Niamey, Niger
An extension of the MNBH museum of earth architecture

Sama & Kasa (high and low in the Haoussa language) is the project we presented for the pavilion, to promote earth architecture, in the national museum Boubou-Hama in Niamey. Logically the project was inspired by the vernacular architecture of Niger. It contains characteristics of traditional materials, techniques and forms to obtain a contemporary architecture in harmony with the local culture.

Lalibela, Ethiopia
8 Eco-tourism Hotel rooms

The Ben Abeba 'rock hewn hotel rooms' project aims at creating a contemporary and ecologically sensitive architecture inspired by the power of expression of the historical rock hewn churches in the town of Lalibela.

.Club of Amsterdam blog

Club of Amsterdam blog

The impact of culture on education
by Huib Wursten, Senior Partner, itim International and
Carel Jacobs is senior consultant/trainer for itim in The Netherlands, he is also Certification Agent for the Educational Sector of the Hofstede Centre.

What more demand for meat means for the future
by Christophe Pelletier, The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.

Inner peace and generosity
by Elisabet Sahtouris,
Holder of the Elisabet Sahtouris Chair in Living Economies, World Business Academy

ICT4D: Top trends for 2014
by Madanmohan Rao

TPP — copyright versus free speech
by Annie Machon, Director, LEAP Europe. Formerly MI5

Long-Term Science and Technology Policy – Russian Priorities for 2030
by Alexander Sokolov,
Alexander Chulok, Vladimir Mesropyan

A couple of billion reasons why Africa is a priority for the future
by Christophe Pelletier, The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.

The road to nowhere
by Michael Akerib

Demography and Hegemony
by Michael Akerib

Navigating the Transition
by Chris Thomson

Will Green Buildings Help
by Mike Rana, Published Author, Speaker, Software Engineer

Shaping our Future Evolution
by Chris Thomson

... and many more contributions.

.News about the Future

Pakistan's Internet Landscape

A report by Bytes for All, Pakistan - a human rights organization with a focus on Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).

Pakistan's Internet revolution is a story of unprecedented, sometimes contentious change, as this medium of communication and information gains popularity in a largely conservative society. A country that has always struggled with freedom of speech and access to information has, at the same time, come to cherish the freedom it has found to interact, communicate and stay informed online.

With Internet penetration growing daily, there is great need for further discourse on the impact of the internet, examined in a local context, especially in relation to the state's increasing attempts to regulate and control cyberspace.

The Pakistan Internet landscape report aims to fuel that discourse, and will serve as a reference point for the ongoing debate on Pakistan's online space. The report outlines Internet control mechanisms deployed by the government, and highlights existing legislation and its application in relation to the internet. It provides a historical perspective of Internet censorship in Pakistan and the move to criminalize legitimate expression online. It also outlines the state of internet surveillance, means deployed, and the purpose and impact of such monitoring.

Lastly, the report maps the existing Internet governance infrastructure and examines different stakeholders' roles including those of government bodies, the military, businesses, politicians, the judiciary and radical religious groups, among others. The role of civil society is also examined, with a discussion on the effectiveness of citizens and organizations involved in the online space.

RoboEarth: ‘Wikipedia for Robots’

At its core, RoboEarth is a World Wide Web for robots: a giant network and database repository where robots can share information and learn from each other about their behavior and their environment. Bringing a new meaning to the phrase “experience is the best teacher”, the goal of RoboEarth is to allow robotic systems to benefit from the experience of other robots, paving the way for rapid advances in machine cognition and behaviour, and ultimately, for more subtle and sophisticated human-machine interaction.

.Recommended Book

Diversity Pedagogy: Examining the Role of Culture in the Teaching-Learning Process
by Rosa Hernandez Sheets (Author)

Written by a powerful new voice in the field of multicultural education, Rosa Hernandez Sheets draws from her extensive teaching experience in urban schools to examine the learning issues of diverse student populations from pre-school to high school. The first in its field to demonstrate and explicate the interconnectedness of culture and cognition to the teaching-learning process, Diversity Pedagogy: Examining The Role Of Culture In The Teaching-Learning Process promotes successful services for more students, especially those from underserved communities. This text introduces a new theory - diversity pedagogy - constructs explicit applications to practice by providing examples of real-life classroom situations throughout, ultimately uniting schooling, culture, and psychology.

.Illuminating textiles

eLumino – a symbiosis of fabric and light

Création Baumann, a Swiss innovative textile specialist, artistically fuses refined weaves and light. “eLumino” is an exclusive textile product with embroidered LED elements that shine, glow or shimmer depending upon the desired look and which can even be dimmed.

When the two most sensuous furnishing elements, fabric and light, are fused together the result is a work of art, a symbiosis of a soft fluid weave and atmospheric lighting. An ingenious light emitting curtain fabric which can be cut to size and processed into curtaining that is so much more than mere window dressing.

It started with the creative design team’s long coveted wish for a harmonious fusion of light and textile. Again and again attempts and fascinating experiments emerged. Finally LED technology facilitated a union which met the exacting standards of Création Baumann products both aesthetically and technically. The technology was developed in a research project in close co-operation with several partners, which included the company Forster Rohner AG and the Lucerne University of Applied Science and Arts.

Within the embroidery integrated strip conductors and LED elements generate a decorative pattern of spots of light on the fabric that dim to three different levels of intensity. “eLumino” has a cable which terminates in a USB plug for connection to the power supply, but can also be operated by batteries.

Two fabric qualities display different designs. “eLumino Aves” is a metallic, soft shimmering, opaque weave, which can be sculptured and draped. The pattern spreads in a wide linear border along the lower third of the curtain. The second design “eLumino Sema” dances freely and dreamily in waves across the delicate and soft transparent voile.

"eLumino“ can be used for stylish staging, in a sea of light or as an individual panel in combination with the harmonised uni fabrics “Aves“ and “Sema“. The innovative light emitting textiles conjure a wealth of ambiance and sensuality into an apartment. The dimmable light displays and the flowing fluid fabric generate textile light sculptures.

.Futurist Portrait: Janna Quitney Anderson

Janna Quitney Anderson, M.A. is Associate Professor and Director of the Imagining the Internet Center at Elon University. She is also Lead author of the Pew Internet & American Life Project “Future of the Internet” surveys.

Imagining the Internet explores and provides insights into the impact of Internet evolution. It exposes future possibilities and provides a peek at the past. Here you will find the words of many thousands of people from every corner of the world, from today and yesterday, sharing thoughts about the likely future of humankind.

Her 6,500-plus-page Imagining the Internet resource offers thousands of expert predictions about the future of information / communications, and a section that allows anyone anywhere to add predictions to the site. It also offers survey data, videos, audio files, extensive sections on the future of the world and the past history of communications, a KidZone, and a Teachers’ Tips section. The site has won international acclaim, including coverage in the New York Times and other national and international news outlets.

Janna Anderson in an interview by FUTURIST senior editor Patrick Tucker:
"I do believe that a face-to-face setting is an important element of learning. The era of hyperconnectivity will require that most professionals weave their careers and personal lives into a blended mosaic of activity. Work and leisure will be interlaced throughout waking hours, every day of the week. We need to move away from the format of school time and non-school time, which is no longer necessary. It was invented to facilitate the agrarian and industrial economies.

Faculty, teachers, and principals could inform students that they expect them to learn outside of the classroom and beyond homework assignments. The Internet plays a key role in that. Rather than classrooms, one can see the possible emergence of learning centers where students with no Internet access at home can go online, but everyone will be working on a different project, not on the same lesson. You can also imagine students making use of mobile and wireless technology for purposes of learning.

More importantly, we need to teach kids to value self-directed learning, teach them how to learn on their own terms, and how to create an individual time schedule. We need to combine face time with learning online. And we can’t be afraid to use the popular platforms like text-messaging and social networks. As those tools become more immersive, students will feel empowered and motivated to learn on their own - more so than when they were stuck behind a desk."

The Future of the Internet and Communications


Season Events 2013 / 2014

NEXT Event

January 30, 2014
the future of Urban Mobility
January 30, 2014, 18:30 - 21:15

Location: Info.nl, Sint Antoniesbreestraat 16, 1011 HB Amsterdam [Next to Nieuwmarkt]
This event is supported by Info.nl & TPEX (TelePresence EXchange International)

February 27, 2014
the future of Learning
The impact of culture on teaching and early learning.
February 27, 2014, 18:30 - 21:15

Location: THNK, Haarlemmerweg 8a, 1014 BE Amsterdam (Westergasfabriek)
A collaboration between THNK, the Amsterdam School of Creative Leadership and the Club of Amsterdam

March 27, 2014
the future of Creativity, Arts & Consciousness
March 27, 2014, 18:30 - 21:15 (Amsterdam time)

Location: Mediamatic, Van Gendthallen (next to Roest), VOC-kade 10, Amsterdam
Co-location: The Vortex Dome, Los Angeles

A collaboration between c3: Center for Conscious Creativity, Vortex Immersion Media, TPEX and the Club of Amsterdam

April 24, 2014
the future of ...
April 24, 2014, 18:30 - 21:15

May 29, 2014
the future of Green Architecture
May 29, 2014, 18:30 - 21:15
Location: Geelvinck Museum, Keizersgracht 633, 1017 DS Amsterdam
A collaboration between Geelvinck Museum and the Club of Amsterdam

June 26, 2013
the future of ...
June 26, 2014, 18:30 - 21:15


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