The Institute For the Future (IFF) is an interdisciplinary research centre at the University of Nicosia (UNIC) in Cyprus, which aims to improve the development, deployment and uptake of emerging technologies, and contribute to their successful application in industry, education, and government. The research centre also dedicates resources to researching and evaluating emerging technologies’ impact on employment, wealth inequality, and work and social life. The mission of the IFF is to educate the leaders of tomorrow, develop knowledge and encourage knowledge-sharing, and help society prepare better and respond to future challenges.
The centre focuses research and funding in two main areas:
- Blockchain and Digital Currencies (the IFF was the first institution to offer academic programmes in this field, starting from 2014).
- Forecasting Algorithms, with the cooperation of the Makridakis Open Forecasting Centre (MOFC), hosted by the IFF.
Within the framework of this cross-disciplinary education programme, students get a chance to explore the potential, implications, and applications of emerging technologies, and specifically blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI). By equipping learners with the skills they need to prepare for these changes, the programme aims also to support the overall digital transformation process and contribute to ensuring a competitive workforce. Within the programme, learning activities are focused around gaining knowledge on blockchain concepts, uses, and main applications. Students learn about cryptocurrencies, or blockchain implementations in areas like energy, regulation, policy or law. On IFF’s website, learners can find master’s programmes in AI, Blockchain and Digital Currency – fully online, as well as shorter online courses, business and professional-oriented activities, and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses).
The Institute for the Future achieved considerable impact since 2013, also due to the international outlook of the University of Nicosia (educational programmes are predominantly offered in English; and the university is the largest university in Southern Europe when it comes to the provision of formal education programmes in English). The university is the leading formal education institution on blockchain and has been the first one to publish blockchain certificates and accepting bitcoin as payment for tuition fees. The initiative is easily scalable: a large portion of the courses are available online and in English, incorporating a variety of different formats. The MOOCs developed by the centre have had a wide outreach, with more than 35,000 students from 95 countries enrolled. In addition, the master’s programme Blockchain and Digital Currencies of the university has succeeded in educating more than 650 students since 2014.