This website uses cookies to store information on your computer. Some of these cookies are used for visitor analysis, others are essential to making our site function properly and improve the user experience. By using this site, you consent to the placement of these cookies. Click Accept to consent and dismiss this message or Deny to leave this website. Read our Privacy Statement for more.
Join Us | Print Page | Sign In
Share |

History & Organization


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.

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.

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. 

In order to promote the futures field to the public and to recognize the work of professional futurists and others whose work illuminates one or more aspects of the future, APF selects and recognizes significant futures works. Founded in 2007, the first awards occurred in 2008. Andy Hines serves as the chair.

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.

  • The Art of the Long View (1996) by Peter Schwartz
  • Foundations of Futures Studies: Human Science for a New Era, vols 1 & 2 (1997) by Wendell Bell
  • The Knowledge Base of Futures Studies, vols 1-4 CD-ROM (2005) by Richard Slaughter (ed)

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.

  • “SuperStruct” (2008) by IFTF/Jane McGonigal, Jamais Cascio & Kathi Vian
  • “Integral Futures,” Special Issue of Futures (Mar 2008), edited by Richard Slaughter, Peter Hayward (APF), Joseph Voros.
  • “Six Pillars: Futures Thinking for Transforming,” (pdf) in Foresight (2008) by Sohail Inayatullah.
    Honorable mentions were awarded to three others, listed under MSFW History.

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.

In 2008, an annual recognition of excellence in student projects was initiated by Verne Wheelwright and Jim Mathews. Students’ work has been recognized in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. Currently Peter Hayward serves as SRP Chair and Charles Brass coordinates the review of student projects.

Since the inception of the APF, an active listserv connected members globally. Conversations involve APF activities, new reports and publications, members’ news, and foresight conferences. Every week, provocative questions circulate on topics including the future of geopolitics, scarcity, automobiles, leisure, paper products, sports, and post-capitalism, biggest surprises of the past decade, better scenario methods, and unusual locations for a futures workshop. In 2019 APF migrated to a new member platform with a social media app, to enable different voices to create more in-depth conversations.

The Compass newsletter began December 2003 and is published quarterly. Past issues can be found in the Members Only "Community" section (log-in required) and include important articles, book reviews, members’ news, and APF news. Past editors included Andy Hines, Garry Golden, and Jim Mathews. Since mid-2013, Andrew Curry has served as the Compass editor.

APF held a monthly series of twitter chats from 2010 to 2012. Founded by Jennifer Jarratt and Cindy Frewen, topics have explored the future of: education, money work, transportation, big questions, disasters, relationships, personal, social & political power, limited resources, and design among others. Besides Jennifer and Cindy, Maree Conway, Guy Yeomans, Justin Pickard, Bryan Alexander, Elizabeth Merritt, and Jake Dunagan have hosted. Venessa Miemis was an invited guest for future of money.

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.

APF began a Facebook group page in 2008. In 2015, it became an open group (110 members at the time, now 320) and was managed by Bridgette Engeler until 2018. During that year APF reactivated it's LinkedIn group. 

Current board members can be found here, as can Past Board Members and founding APF members. In addition to the above committee chairs, Membership Care is headed by Kimberly Daniels, Membership Applications by Peter Bishop, Nominating Committee by Garry Golden, New Members’ Meet-Ups by Jay Gary, and APF Webmaster is Alireza Hejazi. 

For more on APF's history, check out its Wikipedia page.