Future Day and Education

Ensuring that we educate and train the next generation in future studies is important not just for our livelihood, but our survival. Future Day aims to inspire flexible and creative thinking – not simply prepare graduates for the workplace. With many experts lending support to the idea, we believe Future Day has already proven to be a success – and look forward to broader horizons.

Through outreach initiatives Future Day strives to inspire primary, secondary school students to pursue higher education which will help make a positive difference to the future. In order to remove psychological barriers that would impede prospective scholars in this pursuit, Future Day is encouraging learning how to think about the future, with the ultimate goal of ensuring that students with outstanding potential apply their talent to changing the world for the better.

Online Education

There are many online courses that you can take. Some require paymentLearn More

Networking

Get in touch with others, bounce your thoughs about the future off your friends! Join the Facebook group!Join In

Classroom Activities

Activities in the classroom to get students thinking!Learn More

Celebrate Future Day

Join in the fun and help make Future Day a ritual in your school!Learn More

Thinking Tools

Futures studies, or foresight, is a set of principles and practices that can be applied to solve complex problems. It combines data and trend analysis, pattern recognition, intuition, and imagination to envision desirable and sustainable paths of action. Just as Tim Brown distilled the design thinking process to : inspiration, ideation, and implementation, futurist Jamais Cascio described the futures thinking process as: Asking the Question, Scanning the World, Mapping the Possibilities, and Asking the Next Question. It’s an iterative process which helps you consider a range of possible, probably, and preferable outcomes. It’s not predicting the future, but rather taking a structured approach to understanding the potential impacts of today’s decisions and actions.
- Thanks to Venessa Miemis

In order to develop the capacity for imagining alternative futures and create design solutions accordingly, it is useful to be aware of the current driving forces and megatrends underway. The “STEEP” categories [Social, Technological, Environmental, Economic, Political] give us the mental framework for understanding the complex web of change around us, and can also be further broken down into subcategories for refinement. For example, “Social” could be viewed at the more granular levels of culture, organization, and personal.

Once a trend is identified, both its causes and impacts can be considered. For instance, a rise in life expectancy might be caused by rising living standards, better medical treatments, and healthier environments. The corresponding impacts of this trend may be that a longer portion of a person’s life is spent in retirement, and so there will be an increasing demand in goods and services for the elderly and perhaps a bigger financial strain on families to care for aging parents or grandparents. What types of environments should be designed in order to accommodate these changes?

Another example is the increasing amount of “leisure time” people are now facing. Technological automation has made human involvement in many processes unnecessary, and global economic recession has left many unemployed. If these trends continue, what types of structures must be designed in order to redirect the wasted productivity and surplus mental power that is currently sitting idle? When thinking about the world at this scale, the “big picture” pops out and we can begin to think about design in terms of strategic preparation for our future.

Clarifying a vision is one of the most powerful mechanisms for engaging a team, organization or community and getting them excited to push forward into new territory. A successfully designed product or service should intentionally impact the thoughts and behaviors of society and culture, and serve as an example of the mindset and values of its creators. So, what does this future humanity look like? Creating that clear vision is a precursor to planning, and a key to creating the conditions to mobilize a group of collaborators around a common goal.

There is a nice guideline in the book Futuring that breaks down this process of “Preferred Futuring” into these eight tasks:

  • 1. Review the organization’s common history to create a shared appreciation.
  • 2. Identify what’s working and what’s not. Brainstorm and list “prouds” and “sorries.”
  • 3. Identify underlying values and beliefs, and discuss which ones to keep and which to abandon.
  • 4. Identify relevant events, developments, and trends that may have an impact on moving to a preferred future.
  • 5. Create a preferred future vision that is clear, detailed, and commonly understood. All participants, or at least a critical mass, should feel a sense of investment or ownership in the vision.
  • 6. Translate future visions into action goals.
  • 7. Plan for action: Build in specific planned steps with accountabilities identified.
  • 8. Create a structure for implementing the plan, with midcourse corrections, celebrations, and publicizing of successes.

Ultimately, it’s not about creating MY vision, but about creating a SHARED vision. As responsible, forward thinking humans, we all want to create a better future. But what does it look like? Have we defined it? Have we described it? Who are we within it? What does interaction look like? If our idea gained mass adoption, what would that mean? What does that world look like?

If we can see it, we can build it.

As an extension of visioning, scenario development is where the power of narrative comes in. Throughout human history, we are defined by the stories we tell each other and ourselves. We create meaning and understanding by the way we remember our stories, like personal cargo that we carry in our minds. Our surroundings, natural or designed, are artifacts and objects within those stories. When thinking about the future, whether it’s the future of society, the organization, or the self, developing a series of scenarios allows us to objectively deal with uncertainty and imagine plausible costs and benefits to various actions and their consequences. It is often suggested to create a minimum of three scenarios when considering future events or situations by identifying futures that are possible, probable, and preferable. Here’s a suggested five sample scenario from the Futuring book:

  • 1. A Surprise-Free Scenario: Things will continue much as they are now. They won’t become substantially better or worse.
  • 2. An Optimistic Scenario: Things will go considerably better than in the recent past.
  • 3. A Pessimistic Scenario: Something will go considerably worse than in the past.
  • 4. A Disaster Scenario: Things will go terribly wrong, and our situation will be far worse than anything we have previously experienced.
  • 5. A Transformation Scenario: Something spectacularly marvelous happens – something we never dared to expect.

Once the stories has been written that describes what each of these scenarios looks like, the conversation can begin. What is the likelihood of each of these? What is the desirability? What are the correlating values of the people? And most importantly, what actions can be taken today to steer the ship and design towards or away from the various scenarios?

Two common methods for determining a potential course of action are forecasting and backcasting. While forecasting starts in the present and projects forward into the future, backcasting starts with a future goal or event and works it’s way back to the present. In this method, the sequence of events or steps that led to that goal are imagined and defined, so that a roadmap to that desirable future is created. In either case, the scenarios generated serve to illuminate pathways to action.

Goals

Future Day seeks to:

  • inspire reflection on critical emerging trends and challenges
  • provide global innovative leadership and strategic orientations for education policy development and practice
  • mobilize policy and decision-makers, researchers, practitioners, public and private sectors, governmental and non-governmental organizations, based on cutting-edge research evidence.

Testimonials

Future Day is designed to center the impossible in the public mind once a year as a temptation too delicious to resist.
Howard Bloom
We need to embrace the wild uncertainty and promise of the future with both rationality and imagination. And we need to do it now! Future Day is one step — maybe an important one — in the process of humanity reorienting itself toward accelerating change and future-awareness. After all, we already have a heck of a lot of holidays focusing on the past — it’s about time for one that focuses on the future!!
Ben Goertzel, Open Cog
Future Day is a day for imagination and a day to remember the triumphs of the past, the works in progress, and the potential for the future. It is also a day to challenge ourselves, our communities, our governmental structures, our international organizations, and our global sensibility.
Natasha Vita-More, ezDesign
Future Day helps us to foresee our personal potentials, and acknowledge that we have the power to pull together and push our global system to a whole new level of collective intelligence, resiliency, diversity, creativity, and adventure. Want to help build a more foresighted culture? Don’t wait for permission, start celebrating it now!
John Smart, Accelerating Studies Foundation
The future is something we all have in common – it is where we are all heading. Future Day is an excellent way to ritualize thinking about the future.
Adam Ford, Quantech Solutions