Feature Story

The Next 100 Years



We asked researchers to transport themselves into the future.Here’s what Dr. Heidi Tworek from the Department of History at UBC had to say.



Q
If you could transport yourself to the future, what would you be teaching/researching in 100 years?

Our ways of producing and consuming news changed dramatically in the past, but our interest in news survives. Mark Twain supposedly once stated that “History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” In one hundred years’ time, I would be researching what rhymed in the history of news and why.

Dr. Heidi Tworek, Faculty of Arts

A: Historians are often wary of predicting the future. But I would be using the history of news to teach students how to understand the news that they read, see, or hear, regardless of the devices they are using. Our ways of producing and consuming news changed dramatically in the past, but our interest in news survives. Mark Twain supposedly once stated that “History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” In one hundred years’ time, I would be researching what rhymed in the history of news and why. Have new technologies changed news in similar ways to the Internet? Has citizen journalism changed power hierarchies in society? How have we balanced the costs of producing news with ideals about news as a public good?

Beyond the specific content, I would still be teaching students the skills of history. I’d want them to learn how the past affects our present. But I would also want to teach them how to become empathetic human beings. The past is often so different from our present. But we can learn how to put ourselves into the mindset of people in the past and try to understand why they thought like they did. We can learn the skill of empathy from the past, but then apply it to the unfamiliar in the present. The future will need empathetic UBC graduates just as much as we do today.

Q
How will the work you are doing now influence your field in 100 years?

A: I hope that my work will help historians to take media seriously as an object of investigation. Researchers often tend to use newspapers to illustrate their points about the past rather than seeing newspapers as sources that were created by particular political, economic, and social contexts. I hope that the field will examine how media affected society and how media actually created news stories, for example using different technologies or reporting techniques.

Conversely, I hope that my work will push those involved in the media outside the academy to take the past seriously when they think about news. The current media landscape is changing dramatically. The business of news will be in flux for some time, if not in perpetuity. But journalists and media companies are so focused on the present that they often forget to think about how reporting and news changed in the past. There is some comfort and use in understanding how the media adapted to technological change in the past and thrived. I hope that my work on the history of news will have helped to build a robust and diverse media landscape.



Want to study with Heidi?

Discover the Department of History


Explore this Series

Nearly every researcher searches for something — a clue, an anomaly, a missing link — that will unlock new knowledge about the world we live in.

In the first 100 years at UBC, discovery was paramount. The drive for invention and the need to understand cause and effect ushered in decades of eureka moments in labs, classrooms and in the minds of students and professors alike as relationships between things revealed themselves. 

But what will the next 100 years bring? We asked researchers across a range of disciplines at UBC to transport themselves into the year 2115 and imagine what they might be teaching and researching.

Discover what they envision and travel with them into the future.

UBC is proud to mark its 100th anniversary as a global leader in education, research innovation and community engagement.
Learn more about the UBC Centennial.

Story Credits

Thank you to all of our participants for their willingness to predict the unknown.

Special thanks to Tim Herron, Events and Technical Services Manager, Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability, for giving us lots of space to be creative and Public Affairs for suggestions on researchers for the story.

Story team: UBC Communications and Marketing — Martin Dee, UBC Photographer; Margaret Doyle, Digital Storyteller; Michael Kam, Web Developer; Lina Kang, Web Coordinator; Adrian Liem, Manager, Digital Communications; Mark Pilon, Designer; Aida Viziru, Web Interaction Designer; Matt Warburton, Manager, Graphic Design.

Published: March 2016