[4/9/19] – “The Future” in the Media

This week, we look not at a single event, but at a broader concept. Here we examine the notion of “the future” in the media. How is the future of our planet (and facets therein) portrayed? Positively? Negatively? What do we have to look forward to in the years to come? Specifically, this post looks at recent news around events and topics of water, gender identity, artificial intelligence, and space exploration.

Instructors, click on the link below to download this week’s lecture for use in your classroom. The deck contains a writing prompt, a debate question, as well as other assessment questions.

Download the PowerPoint Lecture Spark for “The Future” in the Media


“The world’s supply of cheap and clean fresh water will likely plummet as the climate warms and populations boom. Can we find ways to conserve, cut waste, and find new sources before it’s too late? … The latest installment of our What Happens Next series looks for solutions in an unlikely spot: a city perched on the edge of the world’s oldest desert. For the residents of Windhoek, Namibia, the arid future arrived long before the growing freshwater crisis made headlines around the world.”

TedX Talk: “It’s often said that history repeats itself.  Many times in the course of our history, new technologies have wiped out entire workforces.  For upcoming generations, the rise of artificial intelligence represents the next great solution and the next great hurdle. Robin believes how we respond to this challenge, could be our defining moment as a species.”



Writing: The Pacific Standard article refers to millennials/Gen. Z as leading a “quiet revolution” in gender identity. Do you feel this is a fair assessment? Are millennials and the Generation Z population “quiet” about gender identity? Are these generations quiet about other issues?

Debate: How should we, and how should the media, balance a perspective between recognizing difficulties and challenges of the future while also remaining positive? Is one more important than the other?

Poll: Before today’s post, had you heard about the issue of future water shortages?

  • Yes, No, Unsure

Short Answer: How might you have changed the approach/perspective of any of the articles in this post? Explain briefly.

Current Events Quiz

In what way(s) is water shifting around the globe?

  • Water is gathering in areas where there was water and leaving areas where there was less
  • Water is increasing in areas where there was less water and decreasing in areas where there was more
  • Water is decreasing everywhere at the same rate
  • Water is leaving the polar ice caps

To fool artificial car intelligence about speed limits, all you would need is a well-designed:

  • New Sign
  • Paint
  • Sticker
  • Computer virus

Regarding gender and sexuality, the younger generations today are particularly adept at creating:

  • New ideologies and philosophies
  • New communities and cultures
  • New fads and styles
  • New taxonomies and vocabularies

In coming decades, it __ realistic to think that we might ___ a new planet like Earth.

  • is, land on
  • is, detonate
  • isn’t, reach
  • is, find

A theme within a few articles regarding how to have a successful future is:  

  • More technology will solve problems
  • Collaboration
  • Staying the course
  • Imaginative innovation

Photo credit: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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