Feature Story

The Next 100 Years

We asked researchers to transport themselves into the future.Here’s what Dr. Marina Adshade from the Vancouver School of Economics at UBC had to say.

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

My sense today is that we are slowly moving towards a build-your-own-marriage system, in which there is no universal concept of what is a marriage.

Dr. Marina Adshade, Vancouver School of Economics at UBC

A: Marriage in crisis as women gain economic independence; growing normality of premarital, and extramarital, sexual relationships; divorce commonplace in a culture in which the pursuit of personal happiness trumps societal expectations; warnings from social commenters that 50 years hence there will be no such thing as marriage.

Such was the social state of society when UBC first opened its doors 100 years ago.

As an institution, the nature of marriage is endogenous to the economic environment in which we live, but the nature of marriage is slow to evolve in response to economic changes such as the increasing importance of education and the resulting movement of women into the workforce.

I fully plan to transport myself 100 years into the future, albeit one day at a time, and when that time arrives I predict that the class of 2115 will need to be taught the same lesson as the class of 2015; that despite what they have been told, the concept of "traditional" marriage is pure mythology.  

My sense today is that we are slowly moving towards a build-your-own-marriage system, in which there is no universal concept of what is a marriage. This is bound to have unforeseen economic outcomes, particularly in terms of the distribution of household incomes and wealth; not everyone will benefit from this system. I can envisage future me researching how to mitigate this harm while still respecting the individual’s right to choose the nature of their own relationships.

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

A: I have one aspiration for the influence of my work, and that is to encourage the next generation of economists to be braver than the current generation. We have so many good tools at our disposal, and yet most economists are reluctant to apply their lens to areas traditionally considered outside the purview of the profession. There is no reason why we should not use economic analysis to understand the decisions made in the more intimate areas of our lives.

Any discipline that cares about the wellbeing of people should care deeply about how we structure our relationships; that structure goes to the very core of who we are as individuals, as families, and as a society.

Will my work have any direct influence 100 years from now? Probably not. But if it inspires the influencers of the future to be fearless, then I will be happy with that contribution.

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