The Next 50 celebrations culminated in an illustrious grand finale that brought together students, faculty and notable thought leaders to uncover the future of education.

If the last five decades have proven one thing, it’s that technology isn’t just here to stay; it will reshape every part of human life. From our economics, our laws, our politics and communal bonds, to our architecture, art and everything in between—all will continue to evolve as innovation changes how we live and think. 

This transformation is at the heart of The Next 50 initiative. It’s born from the belief that education is at a pivotal turning point, and IE University is ready on the frontlines to help reshape it. Over the last year, we’ve taken a deep dive into humanity’s past and dared to reimagine what our future could look like. The recent final event at the IE Tower marked an inspiring conclusion, with exciting plans for the next five decades ahead. 

Envisioning The Next 50 

On November 14th, over 600 attendees gathered to celebrate The Next 50 Grand Finale alongside the rest of the IE Community. The day-long event kicked off with a series of exhibitions prepared by each school at IE University. Immersive and interactive, these displays showcased a distinct vision of our world in 50 years, provoking reflections and discussions among guests throughout the day. 

Later, the formal portion of the day began. Elisa Hicks, executive director of Campus Life, welcomed IE University founder Diego del Alcázar Silvela to the stage for a few opening remarks. Diego recognized that while the future is bright and ripe for the taking, it presents new, complex challenges to surmount.  

“The technological revolution will bring things that we cannot even imagine,” he said, with the biggest contributor to these changes being artificial intelligence. However, Diego sees AI as more than a profit driver. By preparing for the changes ahead, he’s convinced we can harness technology as tools to help people lead happier, more fulfilling lives. “A new springtime of humanity awaits us.” 

Stories for a new generation  

Next up was Diego del Alcázar Benjumea, IE University’s CEO. He was joined by legendary filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola for an exciting fireside chat on creativity and leadership in the tech-driven digital age.  

Coppola sees evolution as a natural part of the creative process. Storytelling, for instance, has evolved from oral traditions to written literature to theater and, finally, to cinema. He looks forward to a future where technological advancements like AI allow us to shift from basic questions of survival to what he calls the “four main human priorities,” namely, “to learn, to create, to perfect, to celebrate.” 

The insightful talk segued into an enlightening presentation from the IE Center for the Governance of Change. In a just-released report, researchers surveyed over 8,000 respondents from various G20 countries to identify the major “Trends for The Next 50 Years” as shaped by technology. The findings—presented by director Irene Blázquez-Navarro, executive director Carlos Luca de Tena, and associate director Darío García de Viedma—showed that most people believe AI will occupy a central place in our daily lives. 

“A third of our fellow citizens believe that AI could take over,” said Carlos, “while 48% believe in a future of advanced healthcare, so we will be living longer and healthier.” On the flip side, most feel AI and other emerging technologies will only worsen current global challenges such as unemployment, inequality and the climate crisis. 

However, as Irene pointed out, “A lot of uncertainty remains about technology’s future impact on our lives. We need to think about a future where we are not observers of technological change, but participants.”  

A new dawn for humanities education 

That’s the request for action underlying The Next 50 initiative, according to IE University provost Manuel Muñiz. From the report, 43% of respondents identified the humanities as essential to the future of education—and we wholeheartedly agree.  

“We need to think about ethics and the kind of society we want to build,” he said. Technological innovation must be balanced by a firm grounding in the humanities in order to mold responsible leaders capable of tackling complex problems and effecting positive change.  

It’s against this backdrop of positive impact that IE University launched the latest addition to its academic portfolio, the IE School of Humanities. It’s the first new school established here in over 15 years, highlighting our commitment to cutting-edge education that moves the world forward.  

“The multi-faceted lenses of the humanities lead to better-informed decisions,” Manuel stated. “The humanities are what remains after change has passed. They are where we can find deeper meaning and what is eternal in our nature.” 

The Bachelor in Humanities at IE School of Humanities 

While the humanities have long been present across every program at IE University, in September 2024 we will welcome our very first intake of the new Bachelor in Humanities, along with the Dual Degree in Business Administration & Humanities. The innovative and multidisciplinary Bachelor in Humanities is a four-year program designed to give its students both a competitive edge in their professional endeavors and the skills to make positive and impactful change in society.  

With two specialization tracks to choose from—Advanced Digital Methods and Tools, and Arts and Cultural Management—students can personalize their learning journey, allowing them to carve out their own path for maximum impact and success. 

Our future with the humanities 

The last panel of the day gathered leading experts to ponder our collective future over the next 50 years. According to Theodore Lechterman, assistant professor of philosophy at IE University, it’s all in our hands. “It is up to us as organizations and societies to decide how to develop technology, and we must decide wisely.” 

Futurist, author and speaker Anne Lise Kjaer takes a similar approach, understanding that our awareness of cultural shifts, historic events and emerging technology will shape our choices. What matters in this next stage, however, is how well we take up our responsibility toward sustainability. “The writing is on the wall,” she said. “We need to take care of our people. True stewardship of our planet is important.” 

Catalina Tejero, vice dean of IE School of Humanities, moderated this informative discussion. She also announced the formation of a humanities business council to bridge the gap between humanities training and the needs of the business world. 

Into The Next 50 

The event ended with a few closing remarks from the president of IE University, Santiago Íñiguez. Throughout the day, there was palpable excitement for the future. But one thing that became clear was that the holistic approach, where awe-inspiring technologies are complemented by a thorough grasp of the humanities, is the only road to a productive, sustainable future for all. We look forward to being a part of that future, with IE School of Humanities now leading the way. 

“The future belongs to those who aspire to reach out, those intent on pushing society forward, those who want to watch the sunrise and are willing to explore new horizons.” – Diego del Alcázar Silvela