UNESCO Chair on Leadership, Innovation and Anticipation

The UNESCO Chair is a collaboration between The University of Stavanger and the Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education (NIFU) with a purpose to enable leadership, innovation and anticipation in support of the delivery of UN’s Sustainable Development Goals - and beyond - through the application of futures literacy.

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The UNESCO Chair's purpose is to enable leadership, innovation and anticipation.

About the UNESCO Chair on Leadership, Innovation and Anticipation

The UNESCO Chair is a recognition awarded to institutions with academic environments that excel internationally in fields that are relevant to UNESCO. UNESCO Chairs serve as resource centres and bridge-builders between academia, society, research and government.

The University of Stavanger and NIFU will use this Chair to explore and develop new and more inclusive approaches to leadership and innovation. The aim is to help address major societal challenges such as the realisation of the UN's sustainability targets.

The Chair on Leadership, Innovation and Anticipation forms part of UNESCO's Global Futures Literacy Network. Futures literacy will therefore be a key aspect of this work. Challenging assumptions, inherited ideas and practices, the aim is to increase knowledge about how given ideas, institutional structures and patterns of action prevent us from finding and implementing solutions to society's challenges. By developing future expertise, we can more easily identify values, goals, opportunities and threats, as well as find new ways of addressing such challenges.

The University of Stavanger will be looking at how futures literacy can be used to develop a more creative, open form of leadership for companies and organisations – responding to both institutional and societal challenges.

NIFU will look at how futures literacy can be used in policy learning and the development of new political measures in the face of major national and international challenges. This approach will include making it easier to learn and cooperate across political, professional, organisational, social and cultural divides.

Read more about the UNESCO Chairs Programme at UNESCO's website.

Purpose and Core Values

Enabling leadership, innovation and anticipation in support of UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.


The UNESCO Chair's purpose is to enable leadership, innovation and anticipation in support of the development of sustainability competencies and the delivery of UN’s Sustainable Development Goals - and beyond - through the application of futures literacy and design thinking.

  • Leadership: The collective pursuit of delivering on purpose.
  • Innovation: The ability to define core challenges and root causes, and address these to contribute to a better future.
  • Anticipation: The awareness of our assumptions [what we think will happen] and expectations [what we want to happen] about the future, and ability to move beyond them.
  • Futures literacy: A universally accessible skill that builds on the innate human
  • Sustainability competencies: A complex combination of knowledge, skills, understanding, values, attitudes, and desire which lead to effective, embodied human action in support of sustainable development
  • Design thinking: A non-linear, iterative process used to understand users, challenge assumptions, redefine problems, and create innovative solutions.

Core values:

  1. We are here to be MAD – to Make A Difference.
  2. Our decisions, actions and behaviour derive from purpose.
  3. We lead by example.
  4. We are independent.
  5. We strive to reach across political, socio-economic, geographical, cultural, and expert community barriers.
  6. We contribute to the development of a free and open, fair and sustainable society.
  7. We promote and support equality, inclusive of gender, age, sexuality, origin, ability, economic status, and education.
  8. We denounce any form of bigotry, prejudice, discrimination (including sexism, racism, homophobia, and xenophobia), and ideological, political, and religious extremism.
  9. We develop a common capacity for colouring outside the lines and look at existing cultural, economic, and social structures in creative ways, making use of the future in the process.
  10. We contribute to a sustainable, autonomous, and organic MAD-movement of equals.

About the Chairholder

Rune Todnem By, PhD, is Professor of Leadership at University of Stavanger, Norway, and Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Change Management: Reframing Leadership and Organizational Practice.

Mann i blå dongeriskjorte og rødt skjegg står med hendene i kryss og smiler til kamera i en korridor. Foto.

Professor Rune Todnem By. Photo: Elisabeth Tønnessen.

Working with practitioners and academics towards enabling leadership fit for the 21st century in support of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, Todnem By introduced the EPICally MAD (Making A Difference) principles at TEDx Stavanger in 2019. The ideas introduced here nurtured his 2021 article Leadership: In Pursuit of Purpose coining the PAC leadership approach - focusing on the facilitation and production of Purpose, Alignment, and Commitment – and the Telos Leadership Lens (TLL) suggesting that

  1. leadership is a responsibility of the many, not a privilege of the few
  2. leadership is the collective pursuit of delivering on purpose
  3. leadership purpose is to be guided by internal goods (exemplified by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals).

Contact details:


About the Co-chairholder

Per Koch is the editor of Forskningspolitikk, a Nordic magazine on research and innovation policy and a Senior Adviser at NIFU, The Nordic Institute for Studies of Innovation, Research and Education.

Special advisor Per Koch. Photo: Martin Skulstad.

Koch has been working as a policy maker and researcher in the areas of innovation and research and innovation policy since 1991, in the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research, the Research Council of Norway, Innovation Norway and the research institute STEP (later NIFU STEP). He has in particular been focused on the development on a systemic approach to innovation in both the private and public sectors. He led PUBLIN, an EU funded research project on innovation in the public sector. He has worked vis-à-vis the EU Commission, OECD and UNESCO and chaired OECD’s work on the use of science, technology and innovation in the face of global challenges (STIG). He has worked with Dr. Riel Miller and his UNESCO network for futures literacy for many years, and is now engaged in how to use such competences in the development of a transformative research and innovation policy.

About the Senior Advisor

Riel Miller is one of the world’s leading authorities on the theory and practice of using the future to change what people see and do.

Mann med mørkeblå skjorte, grått hår og briller med sort innfatning står i en korridor og smiler til kamera. Foto.

Senior Advisor Riel Miller. Photo: Elisabeth Tønnessen.

Miller is recognized as an innovative and globally experienced project initiator, designer and manager, and his lifelong ambition is to put the richness of complex emergence at the service of humanity's capacity to be free. Riel is widely published in academic journals and other media on a range of topics, from the future of the Internet to transforming strategic processes. He is an accomplished keynote speaker and facilitator.

Miller started his career at the OECD in Paris in 1982 in the Economics Department. He completed his PhD in Economics at the New School for Social Research in 1987, and from 1985 to 1993 he worked for the Ontario Government, in the legislature and as a senior manager in the Ontario public service (Ministries of Finance; Universities; and Industry). In 1995 he returned to the OECD to work in the International Futures Programme and with the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation. In 2005 Miller founded an independent consultancy – xperidox (which means knowledge through experience) - to advise public and private sector clients from around the world on how to use the future more effectively. From mid-2012 to early 2022 Miller served as Head of Foresight and Futures Literacy at UNESCO. Currently he is:

  • Senior Advisor: The UNESCO Chair on Leadership, Innovation and Anticipation, and Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Stavanger (Norway)
  • Senior Fellow: J. Herbert Smith Centre for Technology Management and Entrepreneurship, Deep Change Initiative, Faculty of Engineering, University of New Brunswick (Canada)
  • Senior Fellow, Ecole des Ponts Business School, Ecole des Ponts, (France)

About the Chair Advisor

Lisa Scordato is Senior Advisor at NIFU, The Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education.

Senior Adviser Lisa Scordato. Photo: Ketil Jordan, NIFU.

She has been working as an analyst and advisor in the field of innovation and research policy since 2004 and has a particular interest in understanding the role of innovation policy in addressing societal challenges. Currently, she is using Futures Literacy as a way of thinking and a methodology in AFINO, the Centre for Responsible Research and Innovation in Norway (AFINO), funded by the Research Council of Norway. Her work involves building learning arenas where people from industry, academia, NGOs, public sector institutions and other relevant citizens and stakeholders can make use of the future in order to explore the possible negative and positive consequences of innovation and current socio-technological shifts.

About the Chair Associates

Associate Professors Olga Gjerald, Lukasz Andrzej Derdowski and Professor Trude Furunes support the UNESCO Chair as Chair Associates.

Portrettbider av tre personer satt sammen ved siden av hverandre med blå bakgrunn mellom bildene. Blond kvinne med skulderlangt hår til venstre, mann med skjegg og blondt hår i midten og kvinne med kort, brunt hår til høyre.

Photo: Olga Gjerald (from the left), Lukasz Andrzej Derdowski and Trude Furunes.

  • Olga Gjerald, Associate Professor in Service Management, has a broad research interests at the junction of leadership and service experience design, and service co-creation. Her research focuses on shared leadership; service expectations; the mechanisms of the immersion process; managerial practices of co-creation; and service employees’ basic assumptions. Currently, Olga is contributing to a research programme where the main aim is to further develop an integrative leadership ontology with a particular focus on leadership culture (individual leadership beliefs, collective leadership beliefs, and leadership practices).
    Email: olga.gjerald@uis.no
  • As a generalist and firm believer and practitioner of range (Epstein, 2021), Lukasz Andrzej Derdowski, Associate Professor in Service Management, is inspired by a call to combine knowledge and experience from multiple domains to explore and foster solutions to, for example, wicked societal problems. As a scholar, Lukasz is interested in understanding the very nature of workplace sustainability-digitalization-leadership transitions nexus and its implications for contemporary and future businesses and institutions of all kinds. When tackling academic and business problems, he is always searching for adaptive methodological approaches that hold the potential to generate credible evidence ecosystem. 
    Email: lukasz.a.derdowski@uis.no
  • Trude Furunes, PhD, is Professor in Leadership at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Stavanger, Norway. Some of her research focuses on understanding the mechanisms supporting equality in working life, inclusive of gender, age, sexuality, origin, ability, economic status, and education. In particular, she is looking into prejudice and discrimination against older workers.
    Currently, Trude is contributing to the development of new educational program aiming at enabling leadership and innovation using design thinking as a mindset and toolbox.
    Email: trude.furunes@uis.no   

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