What is 4IR?

At UJ we’re helping to shape the future,
before it shapes us.

The 4th Industrial Revolution

The way we live and work is changing at a pace never before seen in human history. While there have been three great industrial revolutions that have changed our way of life before, this Fourth Industrial Revolution – 4IR – is unprecedented in its speed, its all-embracing nature, and its global spread.

We can already see it on our factory floors, in our offices, in our homes, entertainment and sport, and perhaps most importantly, in our classrooms – from nursery schooling for toddlers to the exalted halls of learning in our universities. And we see it, and interact with it through our cell phones, our laptops, and even our cars and appliances.

That’s why, as an academic and research leader in Africa, UJ is taking the lead on our continent in facing the reality and existence of 4IR. And we do this not only in responding to its challenges, but in wholeheartedly embracing its tools, potential and capacity to enhance learning and teaching. We are committed to the preparing both of our students and teachers for this task, and in the enablement of our world-class researchers in and for the new world that is taking shape.

More than that, though, we understand that this new world is going to make new demands on us – individually as much as collectively as societies. Indeed, in the flood of data and information on which we all now depend, many of these demands are already apparent – from requiring us to adapt to whole new industries, to the disappearance of familiar jobs, to the need for new skills and approaches, and to ensuring equitable, fair and just access, privacy and dignity. And we do this through the diligent investigation and interrogation of the ethics of a digitalised world.

That’s because we believe that we all have a hand in building the just, fair and exciting world we would like to see for ourselves and for our children.

And it is this key belief that shapes what we teach, how we teach and even why we teach. It means continually appraising our curricula and course offerings. It means providing our students with the conceptual and practical tools that will enable their imaginations to flower. It means placing in the hands of each person with whom we engage the ability not just to understand, but to act on their own imagination – their own reimagination – of the future.

The future belongs to those who reimagine it.