To achieve success and well-being, a modern person needs to keep up with ongoing social, economic, technological and cultural changes. However, in order to adapt to these, you need to be competent, healthy and active, develop cognitive abilities, acquire new skills and maintain friendships. All of this can expand people’s capabilities, revealing their potential. The HSE's unique multidisciplinary strategic project 'Success and Self-Sustainability of the Individual in a Changing World', which brings together educators, sociologists, psychologists, economists, biologists, physicians and digital technology specialists, helps to solve some of these tasks. Working together, they have managed to create a navigation system to improve human achievements for the benefit of the whole of society.
This is one of the five strategic projects of the HSE University within the strategic academic leadership programme ‘Priority 2030’. This focuses on helping people to discover their potential, to self-actualise, and to live a rich, prosperous life. At the same time, the most important resource is independence, the agency of a person and their ability to act, thereby changing themselves and the world for the better.
Stable structures in organising life — the former support system for a person — are becoming outdated, which means that independence, through the ability to orient, make decisions and implement them, becomes ever more imperative. A person must learn to actualise his or her talents while relying on social, digital, biological and cognitive technologies.
Such active independence, the expansion of the capabilities and functions, is called human enhancement. This HSE project offers the mechanisms and tools to achieve it. Each person needs to be given the key to well-being in different spheres.
The project was initiated by a consortium from the Human Capital Multidisciplinary Research Center. One of the focuses of the centre is to identify social mechanisms for the development of human potential. However, it is now necessary to cover the entire spectrum of human characteristics, consider different areas of self-realization and support independence to achieve success. To do this, sociologists, economists, educators, psychologists, biologists, engineers and other specialists have come together to work on this project. The multidisciplinary academic community, which includes several consortia of scientific organisations and the corporate sector, link the created tools together and develop institutional solutions for their distribution. More than two hundred scientists are involved in the project, and almost half of them are young employees.
Today, more than 30 tools have already been created to measure and stimulate success, and dozens of reports have been made in the field of human enhancement. A series of analytical papers has been published on independence and proactivity, human enhancement in a changing world, social capital, success in the labour market, continuing education, technological trends in the field of implantable and wearable electronics, and psychological well-being. In total, over 50 monographs and articles in academic journals have been published.
The theory of human capital (knowledge and skills) and the concept of social capital (acquaintances and connections) are fundamental for human enhancement design, they allow us to identify vectors for increasing opportunities in the improvement of physical and mental health, skills for life and work, independence and social connections. The strategic project revolves around six areas.
The first of them is devoted to fundamental research of the options and limits of human enhancement, taking into account changes in the surrounding world. The remaining areas are focused on the development of specific technological and institutional solutions:
in the medical and biological sphere - human health;
in psychology — cognitive development and psychological well-being;
in skill development— professional and personal fulfilment;
in enhancing independence — individual actions in the transformation of the social environment;
in building and activating social ties.
The main aims are as follows:
to identify those groups of the population who face risks to health and well-being, as well as a special request for independence support in the context of rapid changes;
to identify key tools for acquiring abilities (including educational, digital, medical, social technologies) in response to new demands from society;
to develop technologies for increasing independence in maintaining health and developing cognitive functions — including new biomedical, digital capabilities to enhance human mental functions, neurostimulators, wearable electronic devices etc.;
to create digital and educational technologies to find and develop talent, individualise educational directions, form stable social ties, develop attitudes to independence, and improve self-regulation skills;
to create models for socio-economic assessment of the effects of human enhancement technologies;
to launch training programmes for specialists in human enhancement.
The ‘Health enhancement’ is focused on the options for personal management of a person's physical condition by monitoring the physiological parameters of his or her body. A software and hardware platform has been designed and prototypes of non-invasive (without penetration into the body) sensors have been assembled to measure the physiological and biochemical parameters of the human body's vital signs. These technologies can determine people’s biological age and the state of their health, and issue appropriate recommendations.
‘Enhancing individual resilience and psychological well-being’ is aimed at creating technologies to develop brain capabilities to achieve success in life. It also includes neurotechnologies for optimising brain function (neurostimulators). A system of self-support measures for psychological well-being and stress resistance, which includes a digital library of self-development technologies, has been formed as part of the project. Methods of developing critical thinking have also been created.
‘Proactive behaviour and independence’ is an area that led to the creation of a theoretical model of agency, testing it in practice in the education system and offering tools for its further development. At the same time, the researchers emphasized the importance of supporting entrepreneurship, including projects by young people.
The direction ‘Human enhancement in a changing world’ focuses on the possibilities and limits of ‘human enhancement’ in response to ongoing social, economic, technological and cultural changes. The researchers highlight philosophical and ethical problems, along with the socio-economic, cultural and emotional aspects of technological enhancement. For example, the acceptance and rejection of technology, techno-poverty, self-help and therapy as manifestations of new ways of organising emotional life.
The ‘Skills and labour trajectory’ is dedicated to the development of educational technologies, those skills and attitudes that ensure a person's success in education and profession. It is important to identify human potential and find the optimal application for it.
This direction also includes the research project ‘Models of educational behaviour of students in their connection with success indicators’. The project’s participants analyse the interaction of students with the educational environment of Russian universities. Thus, the researchers found out that Russian students receive higher education primarily for successful entry into the labour market. Instrumental motives (acquiring special knowledge — 59%, improving your chances to get a job — 54%) are the most popular drivers. Interestingly, only a quarter of respondents are focused on the development of universal skills (from critical thinking to analytical skills). At the same time, personal growth as a motive is quite common (44%). The study can help develop measures to increase student success.
The direction ‘Strengthening social ties’ defines the tools to support individual success and the growth of social solidarity through grassroots initiatives of mutual assistance and civic engagement.
On a global level, it is, firstly, a developed pool of technologies to support self-choice, and maintain health, social inclusion and success, including:
intellectual search models that activate human cognitive functions, as well as neurotechnologies to increase resistance to false information;
online tools for assessing the quality of life and human health;
digital self-diagnosis technologies using wearable devices;
technologies for monitoring recovery and adjusting the treatment based on artificial intelligence;
a digital platform of services for the development of tools to support independence in prolonging active longevity.
Secondly, the researchers expect to develop information, consulting and educational practices and technologies for identifying talents, including:
digital tools for identifying human abilities and self-assessment of developing universal competencies;
a digital platform for building educational trajectories;
tools for self-building a competence profile and the continuous acquisition of skills.
In addition, a new scientific and educational direction ‘Humanitarian Informatics’ is being formed. A model of the digital platform of professional qualifications is being developed, which will increase the chances of gaining successful employment. Recommendations for the promotion of tools to support independent actions in the education system are developed for state policy.
Absolutely! If we talk about the contribution of this strategic project to HSE University’s development, we can highlight three components:
It's hard to disagree with this. This strategic project is a flagship one, both in terms of the synergy of many diverse specialists, and in terms of tasks, results, and target audience. In fact, it is intended for absolutely everyone who strives to improve themselves and the world around them, as well as being useful to society.
The project will become a guide for expanding human capabilities in various fields. And this is not futurology, but a real, practice-oriented guide to self-development and fulfilment.
Project Academic Supervisor — Evgeniy Terentev, Director of the Institute of Education.
Administrative Supervisor — Yulia Koreshnikova, Associate Professor at the Institute of Education.
Coordinator — Daria Solomina, Analyst at the Institute of Education.