Future studies and futurology

Some reflections and links. This project and its method differ from the more corporate or strictly goal-oriented methods often used in future studies in that it engages open processes of conversation and puts them into the public domain. Where scenario planning, forecasting and strategic foresight are mostly tools to either capture the future as calculable and statistical (thus generally drawing on linear conceptions of time and ideas of progress), or to brainstorm in corporate scenarios, or as a tool for so-called participatory consultancy processes which in these days are unfortunately often nothing more than a kind of creative ripoff. But any tool is a weapon if you hold it right, and certainly the future is a field of contestation that should not be left to experts, scientists and capitalists. Thus the point of this project, in engaging divergent, popular and non-goal oriented visions of the future.
For more reflections on scenario planning and the future. For more inshight into the world of corporate scenario planning see also the audio file of interview with Johan Siebers, who used to lead the strategic future planning unit of Shell. It is in fact corporations like Shell who pioneererd future-related devices for coming up with new strategies, projects and management techniques.

Future studies (Wikipedia, 2007)

reflects on how today’s changes (or the lack thereof) become tomorrow’s reality. It includes attempts to analyze the sources, patterns, and causes of change and stability in order to develop foresight and to map alternative futures. The subjects and methods of futures studies include possible, probable, and desirable variations or alternative transformations of the present, both social and “natural” (i.e. independent of human impact). A broad field of inquiry, futures studies explores and represents what the present could become from multiple interdisciplinary perspectives.

Futures studies takes as one of its important attributes (epistemological starting points) the on-going effort to analyze images of the future. This effort includes collecting quantitative and qualitative data about the possibility, probability, and desirability of change. The plurality of the term “futures” in futures studies denotes the rich variety of images of the future (alternative futures) and preferable futures (normative futures) that can be studied.

Futurology (Wikipedia 2007)

literally means the study of the future. The term was coined by German professor Ossip K. Flechtheim in the mid-1940’s, who proposed it as a new branch of knowledge that would include a new science of probability. The modern multi-disciplinary and cross-cultural discipline of futurology, known more generally as futures studies, emerged in the mid-1960’s, according to first-generation futurists Olaf Helmer, Bertrand de Jouvenel, Dennis Gabor, Oliver Markley, Burt Nanus, and Wendell Bell.[1]

As a discipline it is still early in conceptual and methodological development, grounding, and validation.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s