CCTP-810 Foresight Methods & Practice
Fall for 2016-2017
The worldview that underpins all Foresight methods is grounded in the recognition that we do not actually know what the future will be like, that surprises and shocks are possible and that the decisions we make now will shape how the future unfolds.

This recognition challenges the ability of governments, private firms and individuals to make the strong decisions about how to reach their preferred future. Futurists propose that there are forms of structured thinking we can bring to bear to help us understand and direct our desired course. This class will introduce students to the early philosophical underpinnings of those who created “futures studies” in the late 20th century and its mainstream foundations. We will also venture into more recent critical debates about the mainstream, and the efforts of practitioners to change them. Cyberpunk writer William Gibson famously said (in the early 1990s), “the future is already here, it’s just not very evenly distributed.” Others agree and have made the case that non-Western, women’s and working class and poor people are not represented in mainstream conventions of futurists’ thought.

The course engages the CCT learning goals and themes in a variety of ways. Technology is a central theme in Foresight: the claim that technological change is accelerating that human cultures/ societies will need to adjust or catch up is a basic premise. We will explore this throughout the course from a critical standpoint (is this true? What else might be true about how change and the future unfold?) and a practical one (how do we want to address or help others address technological change in areas that influence how we are governed, how we make, sell and consume, solve complex problems, wage war and maintain peace, love others and live our daily lives, sustain our health, etc.).

The course will offer students many opportunities to do hands-on work using various frameworks to generate an understanding of the possibilities and limitations of different approaches. Students will complete an entire foresight project over the course of the term, either in groups or individually (TBD). Futures studies are inherently interdisciplinary and encourage a holistic vantage, and we will be seeking to apply methods throughout the course to theoretical and scholarly issues and in work that could be used with clients or in other applied settings.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None

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Fall '16: Zalman, A (description, file download)
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