Foresight in a Nutshell

Well not everyone thinks I’m a “lazy out-of-work crazy” like my self-loathing alter ego, but I do get a lot of questions from friends and family wondering just what it is I’m studying and planning on doing with (an aspect of) my life. Sometimes even strangers get in on it.

Last week I was reading Foundations of Futures Studies in Chapel Hill’s Café Driade, arguably the highest-quality coffee shop I’ve ever been to. While two of us were waiting for our drinks, another patron asked me: “Futures Studies? What is Futures Studies?” As near as I can reconstruct, here is how I responded (so be ye instructed, dear reader):

“Futures Studies the mirror-side of history. It’s using what we know about our past and present, and extrapolating it into possible, probable, and desirable future scenarios for tomorrow.”

“So it’s like consulting?”

“Yes. Futurists help humanity navigate the waters of change and articulate our best futures out of a range of potential futures. We work with non-profit organizations, businesses, churches, and even governments.”

“Wow. Sounds interesting.”

“It is!”

I don’t know if he was just being kind, but it is terribly interesting. A multidisciplinary range of inquiry involving systems thinking, sociology, anthropology, history and even science fiction! (And I’m only in my second semester) A little later this year my mentor Jay and I should be hosting some videocasts unpacking some of the delights of Foresight@Regent. Stay tuned.

2 Responses to Foresight in a Nutshell

  1. Frank Spencer February 1, 2008 at 8:54 pm #

    And for those who think that futurists are an obscure breed, they are utilized by almost all Fortune 500 companies, all four branches of the US military, hold positions within the FBI, conduct national security programs in places such as Singapore, and are even helping to secure the United Nations Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Microsoft just started an in-house futurist division, Google employs futurists, Kellogg, Shell, and Nokia have huge futurist divisions, and most of the health industry employs futurist firms for strategy and scenario development.

    I happen to know some other futurist uses that are very exciting, though they are completely proprietary at this point. Sorry, baiting like that is just cruel…

    Now, if those within the “Christian World” will stop being “lazy” and utilize futures thinking instead of relying on isolationist and escapist theology and practices, seeing that the open future is the domain of our responsibility in Christ!

  2. Christo February 4, 2008 at 7:45 am #

    Interesting brother.

    Maybe this is the oldest profession and not prostitution. :-).

    God used the future to write history or was it history to write the future or both?

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