APF MOST SIGNIFICATN FUTURES WORKS
The Core Committee
Jan KlakurkaJim Lee
Guillermina Baena Paz
Advance the methodology and practice of foresight and futures studies
1/ Afro-Rithms from the Future
Dr. Lonny J. Avi Brooks, Ahmed Best, and Eli Kosminsky
Card game, 2019
Nominating member: Bes Pittman
Afro-Rithms from the Future is a world-building card game designed to create anti-racist futures and imagine new, more equitable, and inclusive visions of the future. The game prototype has been facilitated in many venues, including during APF’s Futures Festival and the UNESCO Futures Literacy Summit, both in 2020. Afro-Rithms from the Future is a story-telling game built on the principle of shifting from a center of Western cultural views to alternative future worlds where Black and BIPOC cultural perspectives are at the forefront. An explicit goal is to “democratize the future [and to] intentionally anticipate democratic anti-racist futures where Black and BIPOC futures matter.” The game’s title is a deliberate effort to shift our focus from the dominant future of ubiquitous AI algorithms, which propagate racial biases and reinforce inequities, to Afro-rithms that “enable us to expand our range of possible and more equitable, liberating multiverses.” In the game, future worlds are built using cards that spark ideas and encourage creating imaginative artifacts from a future multiverse centered in Black and Indigenous culture. Scenarios are built and evaluated using combinations of Tension (uncertainties), Inspiration (possible sources of change), and Object cards, selected collaboratively by participants. Afro-Rithms from the Future allows us to imagine an inclusive future through play, but more importantly, it creates an opportunity to democratize the future, reinforces our agency in creating more equitable futures for all, centers anti-racism in futures thinking, and gives futurists a tool that makes foresight and futuring accessible to students, teachers, and community leaders.
2/ Regenerative Futures
Foresight, June 25, 2020
Nominating member: Miranda Mantey
Camrass’ paper arrives at a poignant time—one in which the rhetoric around climate change and sustainability fills our media cycle. As we as futurists continue to draw attention to crisis at hand, Camrass has proposed a new framework called Regenerative Futures which is an impactful and actionable mechanism to amplify foresight’s role in solving the climate crisis. Regenerative Futures draws on the field of regeneration which moves past trying to simply stop climate damage through sustainability initiatives to instead contribute to ongoing repair and improvement of nature. Camrass pulls on concepts such as Causal Layered Analysis, the Futures Triangle, backcasting, and systems thinking, to draw attention to how these tools can be leveraged with intention to create “emancipatory social innovations and creativity” and ultimately transform complex local systems. Camrass argues that by purposefully integrating futures thinking into regeneration we will better be able to recognize the depth of human and climate interdependence necessary for positive environmental transformation. Not only could this be incredibly meaningful to the future of our world, but it could be meaningful to the field of foresight. Camrass’ work stands out as it highlights the fundamental value of futures thinking to demonstrate another opportunity for foresight to integrate into existing and emerging areas. Camrass is reminding the world that integrating foresight methodologies is an easy and important way to amplify positive social change. She is positioning futures thinking beyond direct use in consulting, internal innovation or strategy arms, and academia, to instead have value for every task that plays within a system. Proposals such as this could greatly impact the scope and reach of the field. It is through her work that we may see a new field of Regenerative Futures and a future where foresight tools are leveraged within more intention in non-traditional contexts.
3/ Escaping the ‘Faster Horses’ Trap: Bridging Strategic Foresight and Design-Based Innovation
Adam Gordon, Rene Rohrbeck, and Jan Schwarz,
Technology Innovation Management Review, August 2019
Nominating member: Denise Worrell
My nomination of this piece has nothing to do with advancing the practice of foresight in the traditional sense. Instead, I am nominating this work because it exposes the foresight framework to the design thinking community—which I would argue is much larger than the foresight community—and makes a solid case for how and why design thinking practitioners would benefit from adding strategic foresight methods to its current process. By exposing designers and innovators to foresight and showing how it will strengthen their work, the authors could not only get more people curious about foresight but could also make the design community more focused on solving for long-term alternative futures. The piece argues that design thinking is focused extensively on solving for people’s immediate needs and that “consumers cannot be relied on to envisage “leap” solutions, nor therefore to express need or preference for them….end-users will not escape their current mental models when considering future preferences.” By inserting strategic foresight into the ideation and innovation process, you get the best of both worlds.
4/ Farewell Alternative Futures?
Richard A. Slaughter
Essay, Futures, Volume 121, 2020
Nominating Member: Brent Hughes
This work by Richard Slaughter draws on a considerable field of research and consensus surrounding climate and environmental issues facing humanity and places them squarely in the forefront of the reader’s mind. The importance of these issues as “the” central theme of futures is important as it provides a perspective on how futures are practiced going forward. Importantly, the idea of baseline and alternative futures as a positivist variation on potential outcomes moving forward no longer has the relevance it once had in a technology and progress driven past. Instead, moving forward, society and humanity must grapple with what he terms a bottleneck of potential futures that must seek to deal with the impacts of climate change and the environmental implications. By directly addressing the elephant in the room, impending climate crisis, practitioners of foresight can avoid the necessity of creating implausible futures that do not take into account climate impacts and can instead take a necessarily balanced view of the futures they present within the bounds of reality. Further to this discussion, Farewell Alternative Futures?, also makes the case that the naivety of the past in how futures were interpreted have been replaced by a firmer and more realistic assessment of the future which are likely to have a greater impact. In this way the essay is not proposing any kind of “collapse” of the discipline, as one that can only describe climate dystopia. Instead, the aspiring futurist can be confident that their work and their foresight efforts are of far greater utility to both government, business and academia as works that are likely to shape and truly impact the future as they are grounded in the reality of the impending crisis of climate. In other words, the work of the futurist is likely to become far more grounded, far more relevant and ultimately far more focused and the need for creative and potentially implausible alternative futures may have gone with the positivism of the pre-“limits to growth” past.
5/ Phenomenologies of Grace: The Body, Embodiment, and Transformative Futures
Marcy Bussey and Camila Mozzini-Alister
Edited Book, Palgrave Macmillan, 2020
Nominating member: Elissa Farrow
This is a significant work that advances the methodology and practice of foresight and futures work by brining in embodied practices as central to an approach to futures that opens up the futures imaginary to transformation. The editors’ Introduction offers the concept the ‘grace hack’ which weaves together two under-utilised insights into how individuals and their collectives access their futures consciousness. Firstly, grace is offered as a rupture to the personal experience of reality as closed… it literally opens the mind/heart up to greater things. Secondly, the ‘hack’ is offered as a transformative tool for altering (hacking) dominant cultural scripts that encode meaning and set up limits to the possible. Put together the editors make the case that we have a powerful conceptual tool, and a set of embodied practices, for engaging transformative futures. Following the introduction come three sections of chapters focused on theory, practices and personal accounts of working with embodied practices. In Part 1 on the Aesthetics of Grace we find a series of fascinating explorations of grace as a concept informing practice in futures and transformative work. We hear from known futurists Bussey (Grace Hacks) and Ramos (Messy Grace and Mutant Futures), along with theorists working interculturally with technology and mediation, and grief and death! Part 2 looks at applied processes for eliciting grace dealing with embodied practices such as InterPlay, adult education, poetry and travel. Part 3 turns to personal and contextual applications and touches on authentic movement, early music, work with the Dalits and others of Mumbai, yoga and music, InterPlay and Grace as a call to action in Grace Operatives. This is a terrific collection of out of the box chapters arranged in an elegant in innovative way to bring a whole new set of insights into the real of futures thinking and practice.
6/ Our Futures: By the People, for the People
Jose Ramos, John A Sweeney, Katie Peach, and Laurie Smith
Report, NESTA, November 2019
Nominating member: Anisah Abdullah
In recent years, there has been an explosion of non-traditional (i.e., non-workshop) approaches to engaging different groups in futures and foresight processes and practices. While such engagements have proliferated both within and beyond the broader futures/foresight communities, there has not been, to date, an attempt to ground these within the history of such approaches, theories, and even methods within futures studies. This is where "Our Futures: By the people, for the people" delivers strong and original content aimed at having a substantive and sustainable impact on the field. Providing some much-needed conceptual clarity to "participatory futures" alongside cases and examples from around the world, the report, which has also been turned into an open-source game, points toward the emergence of a sub-field by offering numerous frameworks for how one might approach the design and delivery of participatory futures engagements. Although many workshops use participatory practices, the report looks at engagements that focus on large-scale and public-facing modes of engagement, from games about the future of the Red Cross and Red Crescent played using WhatsApp to pop-food food trucks that allow one to smell foods lost to climate change. The report is the result of research commissioned by NESTA on participatory futures, and in addition to offering an analysis framework for engagement models, the report also delves into modes and types of participation as well as an initial evaluation/impact framework for how one might assess such approaches at a variety of scales. In light of these contributions, “Our Futures” certainly advances the methodology and practice of foresight and futures studies.
7/ Becoming Futurists. Reluctant professionals searching for common ground
PhD Dissertation, 2020 Maastricht University
Nominating member: Andy Hines
How wonderful it is that we have a doctoral dissertation exploring the futures of professionalization of the foresight field. This work suggests the field is continuing on its journey towards a profession. But what is meant by profession? This question is nicely framed and explored by Tessa Cramer in her dissertation. I really appreciate how she explores different pathways, acknowledges the sometimes intense debates on the question, but also recognizes the need for common ground. I was pleased to see her reference the belief of my colleague Peter Bishop that we recognize this common ground, which he so eloquently expressed at an APF Professional Development Seminar on the topic of professionalization. It should be noted that APF sponsored a multi-year task force looking at the future of professionalization that included the development of a Foresight Competency Model (This work is referenced in the dissertation). This work does a nice job of summarizing the state of play and bringing in a wide range of futurists voices from all over the world. It does not prescribe what should be done, but rather, quite cleverly I believe, recognizes where the field is in its journey and sets the foundation for the next stage of development.
8/ Mine the Gap: Augmenting Foresight Methodologies with Data Analytics
Article, Feb 24, 2020, World Futures Review
Nominating member: Andy Hines
Perhaps the #1 question I get these days on methodology concerns the role of data, analytics, AI/machine learning, and quantitative approaches. As a professor I am constantly on the lookout for new developments in these areas. In fact, I asked Anne Boysen to come teach a summer elective on the topic a few years back. Thankfully, she has now shared some of her key learnings with the field in this wonderful piece in World Futures Review. What I think readers will appreciate is how someone who has in-depth knowledge of some pretty deep and heady topics can bring that to life for the non-experts. I think many futurists wonder what we need to know with this suite of topics, and Anne does a really nice job in laying out the state of play and current applications. And of course, taking us into the future. This is a very balanced and practical guide to a very complex topic that is much needed and well worth the time of futurists.
Analyze a significant future issue
1/ Abrupt climate change: Exploring the implications of a wild card
Bengston, David N.; Crabtree, Jason; Hujala, Teppo
September 2020, Article. Futures. 124: 10 p.
Nominated by: George H. Kubik, PhD
Abrupt climate change has happened many times throughout history. Analysis of ice cores in Greenland have revealed more than 20 episodes of sudden and intense warming in the paleoclimatic record. Today there are several climate signals that could be indicating another episode of abrupt climate change, one that would have significant human and ecological impacts across the globe. The paper by Bengston, Crabtree, and Hujala explores this potential wild card event using the Implications Wheel, a more structured version of the Futures Wheel method. This participatory approach was used to identify and evaluate direct and indirect, positive and negative implications of rapid change in the climate system. Many possible implications were generated, including a wide range of social, economic, and ecological costs and benefits. Key conclusions of this study include: (1) the importance of developing strategies to increase social and ecological resilience in the face of accelerating and possibly abrupt climate change; (2) the urgency of identifying and closely monitoring early warning signals of abrupt climate change; (3) using Futures Research methods to identify and monitor early signals of abrupt climate-induced change in social, cultural, economic, and political systems; and (4) due to fundamental uncertainties, the importance of futures thinking and methods that encourage creativity and imagination to address the “unthinkable” challenge of abrupt climate change.
2/ Foresight Investing: A Complete Guide to Finding Your Next Great Trade
Nominating member: Andy Hines
Jim Lee brings professional futurist expertise to the world of investing. About time, right? What a brilliant concept. One might say Jim was a typical investment professional who decided he wanted to do something different, namely provide investment advice with the future in mind. He got his degree in Foresight and has been evolving his practice toward the future ever since. Full disclosure, I am a client. I figure if we believe in this foresight stuff, why not put our money where our mouth is? The usual caveats apply about no guarantees, but we’ve done really well, and it’s totally been a blast. If you think investing is fun, and want to invest with an eye towards the future (and is there any other way that makes sense?), this book is for you. It is beautifully done with color, graphics, charts, and written in a style that doesn’t require you to have any background in finance. I’ve always felt that how we spend and invest our money is one small way to influence the future. It’s an important book for the field as it demonstrates another way that foresight brings practical value to the world.
3/ Gastronomy 360º: Four Post Covid-19 Scenarios
Estefanía Simón-Sasyk, Blanca del Noval and Paula Torán Pereg
Report 30 June 2021, Basque Culinary Center
Nominating Member: Daniel Riveong
Spain is known as a tourism, gastronomic, and agricultural powerhouse. The COVID-19 pandemic has placed these industries in peril. For businesses large and small, from the food processing industry to mom-and-pop restaurants, pandemic uncertainty is threatening the livelihoods of millions of Spaniards that have just recently recovered from the 2008-2014 financial crisis. The Basque Culinary Center's use of foresight - along with its holistic, systems approach to gastronomy - has produced a powerful report to help business leaders navigate the pandemic uncertainty. Using Dator's Four Futures, the Gastronomy 360 report focuses on the "so-what?" for each scenario, exploring specific and actionable implications, challenges, opportunities for gastronomy-related businesses and adjacent sectors (like health). For business leaders new to foresight, the Basque Culinary Center's report is an accessible introduction to foresight's value and unique approach to identify new opportunities and inform business strategy. 12. Deleting Dystopia: Re-asserting human priorities in the age of surveillance capitalism. Richard Slaughter. Book. July 2021. University of Southern Queensland. Category 2: Analyze a significant future issue. Nominating member: Luke van der Laan The IT revolution has brought many surprises. Among them is the fact that intensive surveillance and the related abuse of personal data have fallen into the hands of powerful digital oligarchies. Accounts of the increasingly repressive uses of advanced technologies and the subsequent ‘dumbing down’ of entire populations cast dark shadows over our future prospects that are beginning to look increasingly dystopian. Deleting Dystopia confirms that the existential threats posed by the misuse of advanced digital technologies are real. But, in place of apathy and fatalism, Slaughter explores ways of understanding the threat, conceptualising solutions and identifying strategies that lead away from digital authoritarian futures toward those founded on humanly viable values and practices. The book begins by considering starting points, case studies and emerging issues. It moves quickly on to the framing of solutions and explores ways that the IT revolution can be humanised and made more democratic. It reviews the character of this revolution in part by introducing four ‘witnesses’ who have each played a vital part in opening it up for dialogue, debate and critique. It concludes by drawing on contemporary sources and events to explore the twin themes of resistance and renewal
4/ Deleting Dystopia: Re-asserting human priorities in the age of surveillance capitalism
Book. July 2021. University of Southern Queensland
Nominating member: Luke van der Laan
The IT revolution has brought many surprises. Among them is the fact that intensive surveillance and the related abuse of personal data have fallen into the hands of powerful digital oligarchies. Accounts of the increasingly repressive uses of advanced technologies and the subsequent ‘dumbing down’ of entire populations cast dark shadows over our future prospects that are beginning to look increasingly dystopian. Deleting Dystopia confirms that the existential threats posed by the misuse of advanced digital technologies are real. But, in place of apathy and fatalism, Slaughter explores ways of understanding the threat, conceptualising solutions and identifying strategies that lead away from digital authoritarian futures toward those founded on humanly viable values and practices. The book begins by considering starting points, case studies and emerging issues. It moves quickly on to the framing of solutions and explores ways that the IT revolution can be humanised and made more democratic. It reviews the character of this revolution in part by introducing four ‘witnesses’ who have each played a vital part in opening it up for dialogue, debate and critique. It concludes by drawing on contemporary sources and events to explore the twin themes of resistance and renewal
Illuminate the future through literary or artistic works
e.g., experiential futures, visual arts, films, poetry, or fiction
1/ Four Plausible Futures: 2050 Scenarios
Arup Foresight, London,
Report, December 2019
Nominating member: Sam Miller
This scenarios-based futures project works to bring to life a range of societal possibilities by the middle of the 21st century. The Arup team brings their best-in-class futures research into this study, creating an immersive and actionable understanding of plausible outcomes across a range of trajectories over the next three decades. Two aspects of the report really drive its value: the timelines associated with each scenario provide a deep understanding into the sequence of events for each narrative. And secondly, the report’s empathetic perspective through the lens of four future personas brings a day-in-the-life point of view that is compelling for the reader. The report serves as a useful (and publicly available) foresight resource for stakeholders across the spectrum.
2/ The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe: Episode #762
Dr. Steven Novella, Bob Novella, Cara Santa Maria, Jay Novella, Evan Bernstein
Podcast, February 15, 2020
Nominating member: Seth Harrell
The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe is an award-winning weekly podcast that features five hosts. They describe their show as being dedicated to promoting critical thinking and science literacy through insightful content and resources. Typically, the show does not have a live audience. However, the hosts decided to record episode #762 in front of a live audience while they were visiting Australia. The format of the podcast features the five hosts analyzing current news and events from a scientific and skeptical point of view, but for this particular episode, the hosts decided to imagine they were in year 2035. As such, they created news headlines and events for their scenario to use as the basis for their normal discussion and analysis. Futurists know the “future headlines” technique to be a useful tool for imagining scenarios, but the key difference in this usage of the technique is that the hosts surprised their audience by not informing them that this episode would be different in any way. While the date of 2035 was briefly mentioned during the introduction, the rest of the episode unfolded just as usual and left the audience on their own to understand what was happening. This was an innovative approach, in terms of audience perception of a scenario, which created a sense of unease and I believe it would be similar to a person unknowingly entering an artist’s installation. The hosts then conducted an in-depth discussion of a wide variety of news and issues in 2035 and how each issue evolved from 2020 to 2035. Some of the topics covered included: the current state of climate change and how it continued to be addressed by nations of the world, genetically modified organisms, synthetic life (the 4th domain of life), the concept of digital murder (in which hackers erase your digital identity), and what life was like with most of social and economic activity taking place on a platform known as “The AUG”. Although the intention of the hosts may not have been to experiment with scenario presentation methods or to even present the most original, interesting, or compelling future, I believe that their application of critical thinking to the future content they created combined with their improvisational performance making the 2035 scenario believable, deserves to be recognized as an outstand artistic work.
Kirsten Day and Bridgette Engeler
Public participatory futures installation. May 2019. City of Melbourne and Telstra Readify
Nominating Member: Joseph Voros
As part of Melbourne Knowledge Week (MKW) 2019, the City of Melbourne commissioned the authors to create an interactive installation to help people understand the networked impacts of their actions. Themed ‘So, what if…?’ in 2019, the unique festival attracts an estimated 26,000 people annually. The entire installation ran in The Hub from 10am to 10pm 20 –26 May 2019. Created using a foresight process, the authors conceived the main installation in The Hub – a retro 8-bit-style playable game called ConseQuest, featuring a Ninja-inspired character who goes on an imaginary quest to find the solution to four challenges linked to four ‘What if…’ scenarios. Along the way the character encounters a wizard whose commentary guides the way through the emerging complexity of seemingly inconsequential choices. Combining various futures methods and tools (e.g. Futures Wheel and Harman Fan) and participatory and experiential futures principles, the installation shows how futures thinking and transmedia storytelling can provoke and challenge people to explore the impact of our actions and foster conversations about futures. Adjacent to the main screen was a manual interface where festivalgoers were asked to ‘think like a futurist’ by contributing to crowdsourced scenarios using Harman Fan or creating links between different possible actions and impacts in a Futures Wheel.