THE HISTORY & ORGANIZATION OF APF
The APF was founded in 2002 by an informal network of professional futurists. A community of like-minded people saw the need to create a network to help advance the field. We are now a worldwide group of foresight professionals with members from over thirty-five countries.
The annual members Gathering has been a key activity in the history of the APF. After the initial gathering April 2002 in Seattle, “Applied Futures Summit,” the organization began planning formal events. Each gathering focuses on a particular topic, including both possible futures and futures methods.
Initially organized by Michele Bowman and Christian Crews, Garry Golden assumed leadership in 2009, followed by Christian Crews, Joe Tankersley, and now Catherine Cosgrove. In October 2011, the inaugural Virtual Gathering featured 26 futurists on four themes: Crazy Futures, Art/Design/Architecture, Futures Methods, and Building a Futures Business. A 2012 gathering in Europe celebrating the APF Tenth Anniversary was held in Oxford England. Christian Crews, Gatherings Chair/Board Member and Wendy Schultz, Oxford host, organized the event.
In 2013, “Play: Simulation, Gaming and the Future” explored the landscape of simulation and gaming. Christian Crews, Gatherings Chair/Board Member, Joe Tankersley, Board member/Orlando co-host, and Emily Empel, Orlando co-host organized it. In 2014, “Convergence: Maker Movement, Social Entrepreneurs, & the Sharing Economy” explored how technology and social networks are converging. Organized by Christian Crews, participants used narrative foresight tools and complexity to consider changes for society and the foresight profession. In 2015, the Atlanta Gathering featured the Future of Education. In 2016, the second global Futures Festival focused on Mind, Machines, Design, and Tools, featuring twenty-four presenters and 165 participants. In 2017, APF held a global gathering in Australia, focus on block-chain, and hosted a Seattle gathering in July focused on health and the future of space. In 2018, APF held a global gathering in Pittsburgh focused on smart cities. In 2019, APF joined the World Futures Studies Federation in Mexico to host a Pro-Dev, and meet with 150 futurists from Latin America, a first for that continent.
In addition to the multi-day gatherings, regional gatherings were initiated as a trial in London in 2004, hosted by Stephen Aguillar Milan. In 2012, these were re-instituted, with a second event in London. In 2013, events were hosted in Oxford, Perth, Houston, and Hawaii. In 2014, events were held in Cape Town and London. Then London members under the guidance of Nick Price and Andrew Curry began “Last Friday” events every other month. Topics range from Arctic futures to anticipatory futures featuring topic experts as speakers. In 2016, the London futurists introduced a spring and fall series of three events each to be continued in 2017. In South Africa, Tanja Hichert and Marius Oosthuizen have hosted events for the past three years and plan to continue in 2017.
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT SEMINARS
For its first 15 years, annual Professional Development seminars preceded the World Futures Society’s conference. After the inaugural Washington DC event in 2004, APF conducted Pro Dev events in Vancouver, Toronto, Minneapolis, Orlando, twice in Chicago, twice more in Washington DC, and San Francisco. In 2018, the World Future Society discontinued its annual conference series, and APF moved it Pro Dev to other large conferences, when it could.
FIRST FRIDAY ALL-MEMBER MEETUPS
In 2011, the APF kicked off a series of quarterly webinars. For the inaugural webinar, Andrew Curry presented The World in 2020: The Business Challenges of the Future. In 2015, events shifted to quarterly, especially for New Members, meeting via Zoom, led by Jay Gary. In 2016, quarterly meetings were replaced by the global Futures Festival in September, first led by Wendy Schultz, Cindy Frewen, and finally Prateeksha Singh. In March 2020, during the Corona virus global pandemic, APF began meeting on a monthly basis, hosting"First-Friday" MeetUps to consider relevant issues and trends disrupting the future.
For the inaugural selection, only published works were eligible and included recent and classic texts. Fifty-seven publications were nominated. The top ten were recognized by the APF and can be found under MSFW History. Here’s the top three.
After the 2009 awards, a new multi-year jury-based process was adopted for the 2012 Awards. Originally called “Best Books”, the awards were updated to Most Important Futures Works in 2012, and changed in 2013 to Most Significant Futures Works (MSFW). Currently Andy Hines is MSFW coordinator. Nominations and current jury are listed here.
The APF twitter account, established in 2011, is @profuturists and is managed by Bridgette Engeler. In January 2012, the APF initiated a twitter hashtag #4futr to aggregate environmental scan hits. Contributions by non-members are welcome. For contributors: use #4futr to denote a scan it, trend forecast, emerging issue, weak signal, or source for professional futures work. Trends should be longer than a year minimum.
For more on APF's history, check out its Wikipedia page.