History matters! I have the impression that we have less problems in convincing our fellow human beings in policy and planning of transport, travel and mobility that history matters than we have had in the past. Let me share two recent project experiences with you:
Last September, Massimo Moraglio and I had together with a group from 5 other countries, received funds from the European Commission to start a research consortium on “Transport and Transport Industry in Europe2050”. We named it RACE2050 (http://www.race2050.org/). Looking 40 years ahead on global competiveness of European transport industry and services, we decided to begin with a look back towards future scenarios of European transport and transport industry in the last 40 years. Here, we discovered a couple of threat scenarios: warnings of the “American threat” in the late 1960s, the Japanese threat (in the 1980s) and the Chinese threat after the turn of the Millennium. Despite these Cassandra cries and warnings that the end was looming for the European transport industry, the industry seems to be more competitive than ever. So we could conclude that Europe needs new “horror scenarios” for the next four decades, in order to give transport and transport industry the chance to innovate, change and improve in the future.
On the other hand, we can learn from history that in addition to threat scenarios, which demarcate and delineate “no-go” areas and developments, we need “pink scenarios”, which introduce positive but realistic visions, goals and leitmotifs. Thus, you can expect from “Race2050” quite different scenarios for European transport and transport industry in the future.
I am convinced that history provides the most important disciplinary perspective for scenarios, foresight and future studies. And I have the impression that foresight, economics, political sciences and technology studies are more prepared than a decade ago to agree.
A second historical future project, the Center for Technology and Society joined in, is a railway research and planning consortium about future railway connections from Europe to East Asia called NEAR2 (Network of European Asian Rail Research capacities). All visions, discussed in the network, have historical references and roots.
In some days, the call for papers of our next Annual Conference “Transport and Borders” in Kouvola/Finland and St. Petersburg/Russia is closing. For the first time, we meet in two cities to experience transport and borders while discussing it. I am very much looking forward to this conference, and to see you there. Please hurry, to send in your paper or session proposal, if you have not done soon already.
Best wishes, Hans Dienel