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A Brief Introduction to Futuring


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This is a modified version of a presentation that was used to introduce the concept of "futuring", i.e. constructing creative and valid visions of the future, to a class of undergraduate students at the University of Minnesota.

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A Brief Introduction to Futuring

  1. 1. A Brief introduction to FuturingWhat is it, why do we do it, and how? Tryggvi Thayer February, 2013
  2. 2. So many futures!• Probable futures 1. What can we reasonably expect to happen?• Possible futures 1. Could other things be made to happen? 2. What would produce those other futures?• Preferred futures 1. What do we want to happen? 2. How can we make that happen?
  3. 3. Different approaches to futuring*• Analytical – What does available evidence suggest for the future? - Forecasting (ex. Moore’s Law): Extrapolate from available data. - Trends analysis (ex. Climate change): Identify patterns in current and past developments. Purpose is to suggest what is likely to happen• Generative – What kind of future can we/do we want to create? - Scenarios (ex. High-speed rail corridors): Construct shared visions of possible and preferred futures. - Foresight (ex. Sustainable development): Use multiple methods to imagine shared futures. Purpose is to suggest things we wish to happen *”Futuring” is a concept borrowed from Edward Cornish which describes the process of engaging in creative activities intended to produce visions of the future.
  4. 4. Generating statements about the futureWhat are the significant driving forces? 1. What will produce change? 2. What kind of change is likely to be produced?Some futuring methods 1. Brainstorming 2. Environmental scanning 3. Scenarios 4. Visioning 5. Delphi
  5. 5. Outcomes of futuring exercises• Forecasts• Creative visions• Foresight Futuring produces statements about possible, probable or preferred futures.
  6. 6. Statements about the future• Future statements differ from other statements (V. H. Dudman) – They are not empirically verifiable. – They have no truth value. So what are they?
  7. 7. Statements about the future• Statements about the future are judgments (Thakkar, 2006) – They are based on judgments concerning current events and circumstances, and observable trends. – Judgments are not true or false – they are valid or invalid. Statements about the future describe possibilities, probabilities or preferences.
  8. 8. Constructing preferred futures• The validity of statements about the future can be altered by manipulating or reconsidering underlying assumptions.• When confronted with statements about the future, our primary goal is to identify underlying assumptions and projected pathways to be able to construct preferred futures. Statements about possible futures help us plan for preferred futures.