Towards Knowledge Societies

By UNESCO - 2005

Today, as we are witnessing the advent of a global information society where technology has increased the amount of information available and the speed of its transmission beyond all expectations, there is still a long way to go before we achieve genuine knowledge societies. A piece of information, 'enhanced' though it may be (to eliminate noise or transmission errors, for example), does not necessarily make sense. As long as vast swathes of the global population lack equal opportunity in terms of access to education – in order to master the available information with critical judgement and thinking, and to analyse, sort and incorporate the items they consider most interesting in a knowledge base – information will never be anything but a mass of indistinct data. And instead of controlling it, many people will realize that it is controlling them.

An excess of information is not necessarily the source of additional knowledge. What is more, the tools that can be used to “process” that information are not always up to the task. In knowledge societies, everyone must be able to move easily through the flow of information submerging us, and to develop cognitive and critical thinking skills to distinguish between 'useful' and 'useless' information. Useful knowledge is not simply knowledge that can be immediately turned into profit in a knowledge economy – 'humanist' and 'scientific' knowledge each obey different information-use strategies.

Contents: 1. From the information society to knowledge societies; 2. Network societies, knowledge and the new technologies; 3. Learning societies; 4. Towards lifelong education for all?; 5. The future of higher education; 6. A research revolution?; 7. Science, the public and knowledge societies; 8. Risks and human security in knowledge societies; 9. Local and indigenous knowledge, linguistic diversity and knowledge societies; 10. From access to participation: towards knowledge societies for all. PDF.



Communication rights enable all people everywhere to express themselves individually and collectively by all means of communication. They are vital to full participation in society and are, therefore, universal human rights belonging to every man, woman, and child.


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