Becoming a student of Futures Studies (FS) is a challenging endeavor that should be navigated not only by the academic leaders and professors, but also personally by the students.
In recent years a number of FS programs has been launched in different universities and colleges around the world, especially in the US; from University of Huston, University of Arizona, and … to Hawaii Research Center for FS and Regent University. Among these programs and courses, those that are based on research have more attraction for the students who are going to shape their professional tomorrows not just by theoretical foundations, but by the spirit of inquiry.
Since FS is a continuous process of research, it commits every student of the field to set out a serious plan of study and work after picking up nuts and bolts and absorbing basic knowledge. How that plan can be developed and how can we follow it as FS students? Good questions. Reviewing one of my e-books published last year available for download at: http://www.futuresdiscovery.com/Newsletter/SyllabusEbook.pdf, made me summarize top 10 attributes that may shape the academic identity of FS students either in MA or PhD level as following.
1. Become a skillful questioner. As a student of FS you need to ask good questions. Asking good questions at good times is an art and one of the missions that FS students should accomplish is mastering with this art. Different questions can be raised in different areas and times, but a good question is one that is targeted at a definite goal at the most appropriate time. FS is like an ocean of questions, but as skillful fishers (futurists) we should collect those in our net that are enough fat to satisfy our hunger for new knowledge. By raising good questions we may also advance FS as the field we really love to know more about.
2. Rationalize your expectations. A futurist is a rational person. FS students need to rationalize the expectations they have from others and themselves. Our expectations should be based on logical and reasonable foundations. We are not going to solve all of the world’s problems in just one night. We are not going to become Super heroes or saviors of the universe. We should accept our limitations and work realistically within our personal capabilities. This will embrace both our studies and research. Our professors may lead us in this endeavor, but it is completely up to us choose the most appropriate way in rationalizing our academic expectations from them and ourselves.
3. Develop your unique qualities. Every individual has his/her own physical and psychological capabilities. They are different both in quantity and quality. As an FS student you should provide a realistic list of capabilities you have or you feel to have—existent and potential. Then work on developing those that you may find stronger than others. You may have a good talent in speaking or writing or even thinking about the future. You should get the most of your natural talents. Converging your talents and getting synergic outputs is a good suggestion. But develop your unique attributes. As a buddy who is going to practice FS in a professional manner in the future, you should have something different compared to other futurists. Think about it and you’ll surely explore it in your intellectual capacities.
4. Globalize your mind and work. We are grabbed in our geographical limitations, but thanks to the Internet and social media we can and should unshackle ourselves from these limitations. As a futurist, your works and results do not necessarily belong to your local community, they also belong to the world. All who need the outcomes of your research and study should be entitled to the merits of your works regardless of their nationality, religious ideas, race and other differentiating criteria. The universe is a big village and we are its habitants. As an FS student you need to globalize your mind. This means that firstly you should remove all psychological factors that give you a feeling of separateness from other people who live on this planet just like you. Secondly, you should work through channels that may provide you a capability of globalizing your works in both your study and research.
5. Redefine your goals and values. When we accept that we are connected to other people whose home is the Earth, then we may redefine our goals and values. In this case, global brotherhood gets the place of attributes like selfishness and other negative dogmas that different societies hold for themselves based on individual or collective ideologies. The futurists study, research and think for the entire world and all the people. All the nations take the advantages of our good works. Such a global perspective will make us redefine our goals and values in a new way for the goodness of all people.
6. Learn to teach FS to others. As an FS student you are not going to remain a student all the time. Lifelong education is needed for all of us, but our college years are definite. After some years of education you’ll graduate and perhaps find an opportunity to teach FS to others in both academic and informal ways. During your college years you need to learn how to conduct and lead FS workshops and seminars. You should also learn how to manage scientific round tables and brain storming sessions. You need to learn how to write and publish your research articles and books. You should also publish and distribute your e-books personally. An MA or PhD FS student can be regarded competent if he/she is really prepared to teach FS to others anytime he/she is asked to do so.
7. Foresight your profession. After graduation, you’ll have professional responsibilities. You’ll not only have to accomplish different foresight projects, but also foresight your own profession: Futuring. The futurists have the great responsibility of advancing their own field of study. As a graduate of FS field, you should accomplish your post-graduate responsibilities in an effective manner. Defining a multilateral framework of cooperation with other futurist friends gives you more insight and also enough motivation to publicize your own ideas or complete others’ works. The futurists always get better results when they cooperate with their colleagues, rather than just pursuing their researches lonely.
8. Develop your personal strategic plan. Not only as a futurist, but also as a usual person you need to develop your personal strategic plan. You may be always asked to forecast for others, but firstly you should learn to foresight for yourself. After or during your college years you should learn how to apply FS tools and techniques inr your personal strategic planning. Designing such a plan gives you necessary direction and leads you through your life and your futuring endeavor. An old saying: “If you are a physician, heal yourself first.” reminds us the necessity of personal futuring before forecasting for others’ lives and works.
9. Work for collective consciousness. The fruit of knowledge is wisdom and consciousness. All we study and learn by FS should be directed toward a global goal that is the enhancement of collective consciousness. We live in a diverse but a unified world. Our knowledge and wisdom should help to remove global problems that have plagued our world today. The world is suffering from the problems that are made by ill-minded hands. As an FS student you should put your studies and research in the line of serving the humanity and this requires a sound leadership based on universal ethical values. What makes this leadership capable enough to realize that goal is “collective consciousness”. We should work, study and research to elevate collective consciousness.
10. Become a leading futurist. Back to one of my past posts “Self-assessment: What kinds of futurists are we going to be?” available at: http://www.futuresdiscovery.com/Articles/selfassessment.htm , I should remind once again the important role that a futurist may play not only in his/her society, but also in global scale. The leading futurists are usually oriented with three remarkable attributes: 1) Developing a new FS thesis, methodology or concept; 2) Nurturing a number of FS students through their thesis, methodology or concept; 3) Accomplishing STEEP missions successfully in national, regional and global levels. Aiming at becoming a leading futurist, an FS student may focus his/her studies on re-evaluating the society he/she lives in. The ability to change or so-called “future fitness” is the core competency of a leading futurist. Meanwhile, creating social visions as “a taste for the potential of the future society” is another significant capability.
This can be only regarded as a personal selective list of characteristics that FS students would like to have during or after their college years. Many other larger lists may be developed based on other intellectual qualifications that FS students should have after graduation.
Alireza Hejazi is a freelance futurist. He is the founder and developer of “FuturesDiscovery.com” and the author of e-books: “Futures Discovery”, “ATLAS of futures links”, and “Top 10 Cases of Futures Studies Syllabus”. Hejazi is an MA-student of Strategic Foresight at the School of Global Leadership & Entrepreneurship at Regent University. His most recent e-book “Writing for the Future” is available at: http://www.futuresdiscovery.com.
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