Feature Story

The Next 100 Years

We asked researchers to transport themselves into the future.Here’s what Dr. Janette Bulkan from the Faculty of Forestry at UBC had to say.

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

I would prepare students with an overarching ethic of care and skill sets for engagement at the many distinct levels they will likely work in — from very local to interplanetary contexts.

Dr. Janette Bulkan, Faculty of Forestry

A: A century is a short period in the evolution of the basics of human culture. We will still be grappling with inequalities within and between societies, with human greed and the rapacious approach to our natural environment and planetary resources. We may have stabilized our human population growth but we will be struggling to meet rising aspirations while striving to sustain renewable resources and being less wasteful of non-renewable resources. So I would continue to teach the new generations how to analyze social phenomena, be cognizant and practiced in the development and use of social rules from local to global levels and shape policy and procedural responses. I would prepare students with an overarching ethic of care and skill sets for engagement at the many distinct levels they will likely work in — from very local to interplanetary contexts.

My collaborative research projects, carried out with representative constituencies and university students, will be seeking democratically acceptable ways to harness as-yet-undreamt-of technologies for maximum net social benefit and without runaway assaults on our fragile atmosphere, oceans and land resources.

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

A: I am a member of the six-person international Policy and Standards Committee (PSC) of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the leading independent voluntary third-party forest certification system.

My collaborative work with local and international journalists and researchers and tropical-forest-dependent peoples counters illegal logging and corruption through a rights-based approach to an ethical way of life. Our work provides daily usable tests for all our major decisions, both individually and as societies. We are showing that it is possible and practicable to combat short-term greed and rapacity, to stimulate public protest and legal action against corrupt appropriation and exploitation of common property assets. 

As the political commentator and philosopher Edmund Burke noted more than two centuries ago: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” The feasibility of continued co-existence among human societies and with other species demands respect for others and a holistic view of where we are, where we might go and what we can do without harming ourselves or our planet. Research and teaching in the grand tradition of humanism emphasizes intrinsic rights of living organisms and human society as vital elements for the continued existence of biota on this planet, so far as we know the only place where life as we know it has evolved and may continue to evolve.

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Through the PSC, I work to safeguard FSC’s commitment to multi-stakeholder governance processes and to the promotion of the educated consumer. Our work helps to ensure protection of forest-dependent peoples, sustainable businesses and the forests themselves. FSC’s approach has been adopted in the ISEAL Alliance of international developers of ethical quality assurance standards. A widening variety of standards are adding social and environmental to technical quality criteria.

Want to study with Janette?

Discover the Faculty of Forestry

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: January 2016