Hakuba Forum 2024: A Retreat for Educational Well-Being

July 7, 2024 / 5 min. read

Hakuba, Japan – Nestled in the Japanese Alps, the second annual Hakuba Forum unfolded this summer, gathering 52 educational leaders from over 10 countries. This unique event, both a retreat and a festival, aimed to foster deep connections and inspire innovative solutions for the future of education.

The Hakuba Forum is more than a typical conference. It is an immersive experience designed to spark powerful conversations, forge genuine relationships, and develop actionable plans for educational transformation. The setting—a tranquil former HQ for the Nagano Winter Olympic Games—provided a backdrop that encouraged reflection, creativity, and open-hearted collaboration.

Purpose and Format

The Hakuba Forum aims to unite educational visionaries to dream big, design practical solutions, and build a community of like-minded leaders. The forum format emphasizes both structured and unstructured interactions, allowing participants to engage in frontier talks, collaborative workshops, and informal gatherings.

One of the forum’s highlights was the “Advisory” sessions. These sessions provided a platform for participants to share cutting-edge ideas and envision the future of education. Discussions were not limited by current constraints but instead pushed the boundaries of imagination, considering what education could look like through dynamic provocations.

Outcomes and Impact

The outcomes of the Hakuba Forum were as diverse as the participants. From theoretical frameworks to practical strategies, the ideas generated during the forum are poised to impact the educational landscape significantly. For instance, “Playgency” emerged from a collaborative walk through the Japanese Alps. Elizabeth Kelleher, Dr. Sabba Quidwai and Jason Cody Douglass, Ph.D., conceptualized this reframe of student-centred learning, where they articulated that children would learn through play, are driven by passion, and are empowered to have a voice in their learning journey.

Playgency aims to break down traditional educational barriers, allowing for a transdisciplinary approach where students acquire knowledge and the tools and skills necessary for life. This innovative concept was just one of the highlights of the forum’s commitment to rethinking education and empowering all stakeholders in the educational process.

Reflecting on the Experience

As noted by one delegate, learning is dynamic and a superpower that should transcend traditional subject boundaries. Reflecting on the forum, the delegate emphasized the need to design learning experiences around powerful moments in life, suggesting that educational content should be integrated and holistic rather than segmented.

Another provocation posed during the forum was: “What if we chose (today) to live in equitable interdependence with the living and non-living world?” This question encouraged participants to consider their actions and their impact on future generations. Engaging with the more-than-human world during the forum provided profound insights, fundamentally changing how participants viewed their interdependence with the environment.

Gathering with Purpose

“The way we gather matters,” writes Priya Parker in her book The Art of Gathering. This sentiment resonated deeply at the Hakuba Forum, where the intentional design of the gathering fostered meaningful connections and productive dialogue. Parker’s insights on hosting effective gatherings, whether big or small, personal or public, were reflected in the forum’s structure, making it a model for future educational events.

The Hakuba Forum 2024 proved that when educational leaders unite in a supportive and inspiring environment, they can dream big, design impactful solutions, and build a community dedicated to transforming education. As the delegates return to their respective countries, we hope the ideas and connections forged in Japan will influence their local educational landscape, driving our friends towards a more innovative and network-rich future.


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