Global Challenge Pathways: Digital Futures

The Digital Futures pathway offers you the opportunity to become an active contributor to current debates, and engage with cutting-edge research, addressing both the exciting potential and the challenges of disruptive digital transformation across all spheres of life.

Part of a diverse and interdisciplinary pathway community, you will have the opportunity to engage in exciting, impactful collaborative project work in innovative formats. Engaged in real-world scenarios, you will use digital technology and creativity to promote inclusive, empowering, and sustainable change at local and global levels.

Imagine a world where people spend more than half of their day connected to the internet, fixed on a screen for more than half of their day; or a world where 90% of human interaction is virtual rather than physical. Well, this world is ours. The so-called digital revolution has turned our lives upside down during the last twenty or even ten years, and the astonishing thing is that we barely noticed at the time.

Here are some facts:

• We spend just over 7 hours per day on average connected to the internet and fixed on a screen; and if you live in Brazil, it is 10+ hours per day

• 97% of the adult population now have a mobile device.

• We spend more than 4 hours per day glued to our mobile phone screen, of which nearly 50% (about 2 hours) is on social media. However, if you live in the Philippines, that figure is 4.5 hours on social media.

• Social media user numbers have doubled from 2016 to 2022, but averages also disguise inequalities.

• 90-100% of the adult population are connected to the internet in about a third of the countries. This figure drops to 30% in sub-Saharan Africa, with some countries recording 1% internet users. This drops even further according to income: from 90% (high income) to 21% (low income).

And here is the paradox. Ours is a world that has empowered people and communities; a world that transformed our lives and our identities. All the same, however, the digital era has made humans more exposed and vulnerable, more dependent on digital tools and on those who control them, less connected with the physical world, more isolated and yes, unhappy.

In the midst of all this revolution, our future is at stake. We can simply watch as it is being shaped (and often abused) by others, or we can shape it to make a real change to our personal and community lives.

The Digital Futures pathway is part of Keele University’s innovative Global Challenges Pathway scheme. It offers you the unique opportunity to join a large pathway community and become an active contributor to urgent contemporary debates.

Not only will you expand your digital skills and build a strong profile for whatever professional path you wish to follow in the future, but you will engage in project work that reflects your interests and makes a real contribution to the lives of others.

In the first year of the pathway, you will explore how digital transformations can best promote inclusive, sustainable global change; and how they can enrich lives and empower individuals and communities, locally and globally.

In your second year you will focus on the theme of data in the digital world: what it is, how it is consumed and produced; how it gets aggregated; how it is being used, for both productive and nefarious purposes; and how it can be used to promote a better world. 

In the third year you will have exciting opportunities to develop knowledge, skills, and project ideas that allow you to connect with external partners and to apply your digital skills that affect real change.

It sounds too easy, but this is the power of the digital revolution: when it works together with the people and the communities, when it responds to their needs, when it aims to simplify and empower, yes, making a big change can be easy.