Trends List

Twenty-One Trends for the 21st Century:
Out of the Trenches and into the Future
A book by Gary Marx
Published by Education Week Press, Editorial Projects in Education,
Available from
In this new book, author, international speaker, education leader, and futurist Gary Marx presents individual chapters about an array of massive trends that have profound implications for everyone, including our students, schools, colleges and universities, communities, organizations, states/provinces, and nations.  He also suggests ways to address them.  Those trends include:

Demographic Sphere:

  • Generations:  Millennials will insist on solutions to accumulated problems and injustices and will profoundly impact leadership and lifestyles.

GIs, Silents, Boomers, Xers   Millennials, Generation E

  • Diversity:  In a series of tipping points, majorities will become minorities, creating ongoing challenges for social cohesion.

Majority/Minority    Minority/Minority   Diversity = Division  Diversity = Enrichment Exclusion  Inclusion          
(Worldwide:  Growing numbers of people and nations will discover that if we manage our diversity well, it will enrich us.  If we don’t manage our diversity well, it will divide us.)

  • Aging:  In developed nations, the old will generally outnumber the young.  In developing or less-developed nations, the young will generally outnumber the old.

Younger → Older   Older → Younger

Technology Sphere:

  • Technology:  Ubiquitous, interactive technologies will shape how we live, how we learn, how we see ourselves, and how we relate to the world.

Macro →  Micro →  Nano →  Subatomic       Atoms  →  Bits
Megabytes → Gigabytes → Terabytes → Petabytes → Exabytes → Zettabytes (ZB)

  • Identity and Privacy:  Identity and privacy issues will lead to an array of new and often urgent concerns and a demand that they be resolved. 

Knowing Who You Are  ↔  Discovering Who Someone Thinks You Are 
What’s Private?  ↔  What’s Not?

Economic Sphere:

  • Economy:  An economy for a new era will demand restoration and reinvention of physical, social, technological, educational, and policy infrastructure.

Industrial Age Mentality   Global Knowledge/Information Age Reality
Social and Intellectual Capital   21st Century Products and Services

  • Jobs and Careers:  Pressure will grow for society to prepare people for jobs and careers that may not currently exist.

Career Preparation   Employability and Career Adaptability

Energy and Environmental Sphere:

  • Energy:  The need to develop new sources of affordable and accessible energy will lead to intensified scientific invention and political tension. 

Energy Affordability, Accessibility, Efficiency  ↔  Invention, Investment, and Political Tension.

  • Environmental/Planetary Security:  Common opportunities and threats will intensify a worldwide demand for planetary security.

Personal Security/Self Interest    Planetary Security,
Common Threats  Common Opportunities

  • Sustainability:  Sustainability will depend on adaptability and resilience in a fast-changing, at-risk world. 

Short-Term Advantage    Long-Term Survival
Wants of the Present    Needs in the Future      

International/Global Sphere:

  • International/Global:  International learning, including relationships, cultural understanding, languages, and diplomatic skills, will become basic. 

Isolationist Independence  ↔  Interdependence
(Sub-trend:  To earn respect in an interdependent world, nations will be expected to demonstrate their reliability and tolerance.)

Education and Learning Sphere:

  • Personalization:  In a world of diverse talents and aspirations, we will increasingly discover and accept that one size does not fit all. 

Standardization    Personalization

  • Ingenuity:  Releasing ingenuity and stimulating creativity will become primary responsibilities of education and society.

Information Acquisition    Knowledge Creation and Breakthrough Thinking

  • Depth, Breadth, and Purposes of Education:  The breadth, depth, and purposes of education will constantly be clarified to meet the needs of a fast-changing world. 

Narrowness    Breadth and Depth

Public and Personal Leadership Sphere:

  • Polarization:  Polarization and narrowness will, of necessity, bend toward reasoned discussion, evidence, and consideration of varying points of view.

Narrowness    Open Mindedness     Self Interest    Common Good

  • Authority:  A spotlight will fall on how people gain authority and use it.   

Absolute Authority  Collaboration    Vertical    Horizontal  
Power to Impose    Power to Engage

  • Ethics:  Scientific discoveries and societal realities will force widespread ethical choices.

Pragmatic/Expedient → Ethical

  • Continuous Improvement:  The status quo will yield to continuous improvement and reasoned progress.  Quick Fixes/Status Quo → Continuous Improvement

Well-Being Sphere:

  • Poverty:  Understanding will grow that sustained poverty is expensive, debilitating, and unsettling

Sustained Poverty  Opportunity and Hope

  • Scarcity vs. Abundance:  Scarcity will help us rethink our view of abundance. 

Less    More     What’s Missing?    What’s Possible?

  • Personal Meaning and Work-Life Balance:  More of us will seek personal meaning in our lives in response to an intense, high tech, always on, fast-moving society.

Personal Accomplishment    Personal Meaning

These trends were identified by author Gary Marx, president, Center for Public Outreach, Vienna, Virginia, 703-938-8725,  His book, Twenty-One Trends for the 21st Century: Out of the Trenches and into the Future, includes observations from a distinguished international Futures Council 21.  Copies are available in print and electronic forms from:
Education Week Press: (print and electronic)
Amazon:, (print and Kindle)
Barnes & Noble, (Nook).