Editor’s Call for Essays: Futures Education

Cynthia Wagner's picture

If you have taught, administered, or participated in a futuring course or program, THE FUTURIST magazine would like to hear from you! For its September-October 2014 issue, THE FUTURIST will compile articles, essays, and resources on the teaching and learning of futurism.

We recognize that practicing futurists come from a variety of backgrounds and perform many different types of work. We’d also like to hear from you if you are a professional futurist who did not receive formal training.

The essays (approximately 500 words) should be about personal experiences and recommendations. Please include a description of the program you are writing about, whether it is a master's degree program or a unit about the future in a K-12 class.

Note, this is not about using futuring techniques to improve schools or education. It is about the study of the future itself, including the use of a “futures filter” in other fields. Bottom line: What would you like to say to students, to teachers, and to program developers about the future of studying the future?

Deadline: April 14, 2014. Manuscripts should be in Word (no PDFs) and e-mailed to Cindy Wagner, cwagner 'at' wfs.org, accompanied by a brief About the Author note and complete contact information (both physical mailing address and e-mail, please).

STARTER QUESTIONS: Should “futurism” be a unique discipline to train members of a profession (like “economist” or “physicist”), or should it be for everyone, incorporated into every other field of study?

For teachers:

Should there be a certificate for “professional futurists”? What skills should be included for certification?

How might such skills be applied to other fields of study?

What is the best (most effective and efficient) delivery system for the study of the future? Lectures, labs, practicums, apprenticeships, MOOCs, webinars?

What resources do you find most useful?

For students:

Why did you choose to study the future and/or the methodologies of futurists?

What was the most valuable lesson you learned from your experience studying the future?

Is there one particular technique you find most useful for thinking about your own future? What about the world’s future?

What would you like to have covered in your course but didn’t? Why wasn’t it covered?

For professional futurists:

If you did not go through an academic program, how did you obtain your skills and qualifications as a “professional” futurist?

How do you believe a “professional futurist” should be defined?

For more details about writing for THE FUTURIST, please review the writers’ guidelines posted here.


Learning for Tomorrow: The next 40 years!

Cindy, congratulations for issuing this call for The Futurist. It was 40 years ago that Alvin Toffler released his Learning for Tomorrow: The role of the future in education.

Since that time the World Future Society has been at the center of helping educators find others who are teaching both futures awareness and skills. It was through WFS's Prep21 and conference in the 1990s that I met foresight educators such as Wendy Schultz or Richard Slaughter, who served as models for me to become a futures educator to graduate students.

In contrast to 40 years ago, when futurism was largely being taught as a perspective through stand-alone courses, today it is also being taught as a focused field of practice in Masters' degrees under various disciplines, whether public policy, technology, economics, business, leadership, or design, to name a few. These programs might best be thought as preparing a whole spectrum of foresight professionals both inside and outside organizations, rather than just professional futurists, if the latter term is defined as just consultants or speakers.

In addition, PhD candidates are increasingly focusing their research on foresight issues, from psychology, to organizational theory, to methodological issues in futures studies. Recently I created a list of 72 PhD dissertations completed since the early 1970s, which addressed some facet of futures studies within their respective discipline. Since 2008, at least 5 new foresight PhD dissertations a year are being produced.

In 2013 I conducted a global Delphi survey on the "Certification of Professional Futurists" out to 2030 in which 142 futurists from 29 countries debated approaches on how the Futurist movement might shape its own professionalization of workplace skills.

This summer at the World Future Society's Annual Conference, I will lead a master-course on Thursday July 10th, entitled, Foresight Educator's Boot Camp, for any corporate trainer, college educator, business consultant, or community planner who is ready to develop a foresight program, whether formal or informal.

I look forward to The Futurist this Fall as you consider where education in the future tense might go over the next 40 years!

--Dr. Jay Gary, PeakFutures, Virginia Beach, VA.

Thank you, Jay! I'll be in

Thank you, Jay! I'll be in touch with you - we need your thoughts in this report! ~cgw

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5000 years?

40 years is baby steps. Someone needs to start thinking longer term. Check out what's happening at Cal State University East Bay.

Teaching an Intro Futures Studies Course at HUFS

I'd be interested in contributing to this effort; however, I just now got word about it from Peter Bishop. At the end of last year, I proposed a course in Introduction to Global Futures Studies at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul, Korea. The course was approved and I am presently teaching it. As far as I know, it's the first futures studies course taught in Korea.
I have more to say about this course (of course), especially the Innovations/Issues Change Tracking and Forecasting term project, but like I said, I just now heard about it and so would need a bit more time to write the essay.
Looking forward,
Dennis Morgan
Full Professor
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

Teaching Futures

Anyone who has missed this deadline for the September-October 2014 FUTURIST should still feel free to submit an essay. We plan to post the material online so that we can create an active Futures Education resource, accessible to all. -Cindy