TTF HUB > India in the spotlight

Hi! I’m Shiv Issar and I’m a graduate student of Sociology in India. I’ve been initiating a Teach the Future hub in India and love to share my activities and learnings with you.

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In the past six months that I’ve been acquainted with Futures Thinking and Teach the Future, I’ve managed to implement elements of Futures Thinking in two projects. The first of these two projects came my way at Ashoka University in Sonepat, Haryana – a budding liberal arts university that’s roughly about an hour north of New Delhi.

Ashoka University's campus in Sonepat, Haryana, an hour north of New Delhi

Ashoka University's campus in Sonepat, Haryana, an hour north of New Delhi

At Ashoka, I worked with Dr. Nayan Chanda, an Associate Professor of International Studies, as his Teaching Assistant (TA) for a course on Globalization. The course was directed towards graduate students of the Young India Fellowship Program – a year-long, multidisciplinary program which pulls in some of the best talent that the country has to offer.

Here, my approach towards integrating Futures Thinking within their syllabus was a bit indirect. As a TA, I had the opportunity to conduct weekly discussion sessions for students who had queries regarding the syllabus.

Moreover, following the end of each class that Dr. Chanda would take, I would send the students optional content (mostly academic journal articles and YouTube videos - like the one below) which would complement what they had studied in class. I also had the freedom to screen relevant documentaries for the students (outside of the designated timings for their class), every two weeks.

Using these avenues, I introduced them to many aspects of Futures Thinking which would be useful for anyone studying varied aspects of Globalization at the graduate level.

Some of the TTF library’s content on Globalization proved to be handy here. The “optional content” that I sent in via email featured smaller videos on topics that were worth pondering over scenarios that would concern the future of a globalized, technologically advanced community over the next few decades.

The documentaries that I screened in class (Inside Job– 2010, Before the Flood- 2016, The Third Industrial Revolution- 2018 - see trailer below) helped them informally think over the process of scanning an environment, setting a vision, and planning towards achieving it after running through plausible scenarios.

Furthermore, it helped them with organically reaching the idea of how to keep a historical trends analysis report relevant, when considering its position with respect to the preceding era/cycle of time that concerns it.

In the final discussion session, I introduced them to Framework Foresight, and helped them put all of our preceding discussion sessions within a bigger contextual framework.

My second project was comparatively more elaborate. As a faculty for the University of California’s Education Abroad Program (UCEAP) in Mumbai for Fall 2018, I had the freedom to design the course on “India Studies” as I wanted to (as long as I met UCEAP’s academic requirements, of course).

In the due course of structuring the curriculum, I planned out my 3-hour lectures with the intention of addressing several themes that concerned the socioeconomic aspects of life in Mumbai, which is where my students were interning for the semester as well.

The themes covered the city’s political and economic history, the nature of its urban ecologies, 21st century casteism, and the facets of labor within the city. The level of rigor that the syllabus offered was roughly around that of what a senior undergraduate student at one of the University of California campuses might expect, which is where all of my students were from. 

Aaron's presentation on the Delphi Method during our Foresight workshop

Aaron's presentation on the Delphi Method during our Foresight workshop

My intention here, was for these themes to inform a STEEP (Social, Technological, Economic, Environmental and Political) analysis that they could use to envision plausible futures within a particular domain. The workshop on Foresight came in towards the very end of the course, keeping in mind what the future of Mumbai might be like.

I managed to get the students to go over the Delphi method and a history of academic futures studies (courtesy Jennifer Gidley’s book on the Future) before we got onto using Framework Foresight.

Kathy took us the first half of 'Framework Foresight'

Kathy took us the first half of 'Framework Foresight'

Thereafter, we used Richard Lum’s templates for foresight analysis, to draw a comparison between the approaches that professional and academic futurists use.

My students were quick to point that Framework Foresight was more flexible and accommodating, and that they were able to trace out a more organic way of thinking within it than they were able to while using Dr. Lum’s templates.

Towards the end of the workshop, we discussed how foresight would fit in within the work that they had been engaged with at their internships. The students who had been interning at government-run schools for children from low-income families came to notice how Teach the Future’s curriculum would serve them well.

Student drop-out rates are a major concern at these schools, particularly after the children are in middle school, and they took note of how the TTF library would be a major asset for them, if they were to teach or work in a similar setting again someday.

While Sonia took us through the rest of it.

While Sonia took us through the rest of it.

By keeping the Foresight workshop for the very end of the course, and by combining my approach at Ashoka in Delhi with what I’ve been doing in Mumbai, I believe I’ve been able to harness a greater deal of faith in the purpose and use of futures thinking in an academic setting.

I hope to continue to improve and/or supplement my approach to it within the classroom as the years go by, and as I turn towards involving more people with Teach the Future – India, I welcome feedback on my work, and ideas pertaining to what could be done in the months that lie ahead of me.

Please feel free to reach out to me via mail: shiv.issar [@] ashoka.edu.in, and tell me about your initial experiences with teaching the future!

// All pictures used in this blog are Shiv’s own.

UCEAP Mumbai "India Studies" Class, Fall 2018

UCEAP Mumbai "India Studies" Class, Fall 2018

TTF Hub > Mexico in the spotlight

Hi! I’m Alethia Berenice Montero Baena from Mexico and I’m a ‘Psychofuturartist’. I’ve initiated Teach the Future Mexico with a group of fellow Mexican future enthusiasts since September 2018.

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The first step for the Mexican hub of Teach the Future or TTFMX was to organise an introductory training course.

The objective of this course is to unify the criteria of around ten people (most of them professors) that already know Prospective/Future Studies, in order to have a common line of concepts and methods, so that they can either teach the subject to teachers/professors or students.

What we find special about this course is that, besides the Prospective basics, we had a “Didactics of Prospective” session, to know the challenges and skills a teacher needs to teach the future in the 21st century, also reminding the fundamentals of educating.

Variables identification during the introductory course

Variables identification during the introductory course

Our course is a free and open one, with approximately twenty attendees from which half belongs to Teach The Future Mexico. It is run every Friday from 11:00-14:00 since October 4th and ended on December 14th.

We work with three different trainers who are all prospective consultants and trainers. We get together at the room in which the Seminario de estudios prospectivos is held at the Faculty of Political and Social Science, UNAM.

Photo of playing the “Concepts game” during the introductory course by Cassandra Salas and pupils.

Photo of playing the “Concepts game” during the introductory course by Cassandra Salas and pupils.

Below are some of the topics we discuss during the course:

  • The Future: the raw material

  • Prospective. Notion and characteristics.

  • Prospective planning and anticipation.

  • Innovation Futures

  • Major currents in Education

  • Prospective Currents (education and training)

  • Prospective and education: global panorama

  • Towards didactics of prospective

  • Prospective and didactics

  • Quantitative, Qualitative and mixed methods

  • Scenarios

  • World Café

  • Ludic and collaborative techniques

We discussed the Crossed Impact Matrix during the course.

We discussed the Crossed Impact Matrix during the course.

For this course, we considered the Foresight thinking major concepts which the founder of Teach the Future, Peter Bishop, shared with us, as well as the Learning Objectives which were part of our “Didactics of Prospective” session basis.

We are pleased to have the Brazilian Fernanda Ebert (who lives in Mexico) as a member of our crew, being also the contact that spoke in behalf of Peter Bishop to propose the TTFMX opening.

What we have on our 2019 agenda, once we finish unifying the criteria is:

  • To establish TTFMX as a civil society or NGO;

  • To have deeper and specialized trainings including the use of didactic materials. We are looking into translating the Futures Playbook, for example;

  • To make a set of group dynamics which promote anticipatory thinking, Futures building skills, imagination, creativity and more in order to generate a “business card”;

  • To plan how and where to introduce Prospective in several places, several audiences;

  • To share materials and products “Made in Mexico” and see if we can add them to the TTF library;

  • To be visible for the Futures community and propose, for example, to have a section on the TTF website for the TTF “chapters”;

  • To look how can we certificate our teachers and provide a valid document which can be recognised nationally and internationally;

  • To interrelate with other TTF members for sharing experiences.

If you want to communicate with Teach the Future Mexico to help us out, ask a question or share experiences, please contact me via alethia.montero.baena [@] gmail.com

Want to know more about TTFMX in general? Please visit https://www.prospectiva.mx/ and https://www.teatrodeldevenir.com/.

TTF wins Joseph Jaworski Foresight Award!

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The Joseph Jaworski Next Generation Foresight Practitioners Award aims to identify the innovators in the foresight field and support them in their endeavours. The award supports winners in developing new foresight initiatives and in developing both personally and professionally. The long term aim is to create a global sensing-network of future-alert activists combined with  a platform to showcase innovative practices from around the world.

We are pleased to announce that two foresight practitioners associated with Teach the Future, Erica Bol and Aileen Moeck, have won the Education Special Award! 👏🏻👏🏻

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Erica Bol received her award based on her sustained effort over the years to introduce futures thinking to schools in the Netherlands and throughout Europe and Latin America. She specifically was recognised for setting up a pilot program with schools in the Netherlands. Together with five teacher-in-training programs, five schools of secondary education, and five schools of primary education she is piloting the integration of futures education in their curriculum.

Another objective of this pilot initiative is to gather data on how to effectively teach futures thinking at primary and secondary education. Erica plans to gather and analyze the data from every pilot school to develop a ”Best Practice” database that presents the most effective approaches to teaching futures thinking categorized per age group.

A visual overview of the pilot.

A visual overview of the pilot.

Aileen Moeck co-founded a similar program in Berlin called Die Zukunfstbauer (The Futures Builders) and she just finished conducting their first pilot. She conducted a seven week pilot on futures thinking in grade nine of the Sankt Franziskus Schule in Berlin. Grade nine is the phase when youngsters have their first internship and work experiences. She created a learning space called ‘personal futures’ where we traveled with the pupils in the future.

The youngsters used the framework from the Teach the Future Playbook to describe how future people would communicate, work and travel in those worlds. Learn more about this pilot via this blog we posted recently on our site.

The German youngsters participating in the Berlin pilot.

The German youngsters participating in the Berlin pilot.

We are grateful that the impact education of youngsters can have on futures thinking is recognized by this award. We will keep on preparing students for tomorrow by teaching the future today! ✨

 

// Text by Els Dragt

Teaching futures thinking in Germany!

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At Teach the Future we always like to collaborate with likeminded collectives around the world in our quest to take futures thinking into schools. In Germany we are in touch with Die Zukunfstbauer, a School Future Lab. They just executed their first pilot, read on to learn more!

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As Aileen Moeck, co-founder of Die Zukunfstbauer explains: “We did a seven week pilot on futures thinking in grade nine of the Sankt Franziskus Schule in Berlin. Grade nine is the phase when youngsters have their first internship and work experiences.”

“We created a learning space called ‘personal futures’ where we traveled with the pupils in the future. We had six phases in our program. We started with introducing ‘change’ and ‘future’. Phase 2 and 3 is where we explored trends and technology by having open discussions about it. The youngsters used the framework from the Teach the Future Playbook to describe how future people would communicate, work and travel in those worlds.”

Aileen continues: “Phase 4 and 5 was the futurist phase where we used the Futures Wheel technique to make the kids think about system influences and long-term impacts. Finally, in the last phase the kids formed teams and created a day in the future and fictive jobs of the future. These jobs they then presented to their parents.”

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"We were so fortunate to be able to execute this as a part of a prize we won, a German science'future of work' university challenge. As a follow-up of this pilot, we are now in the midst of creating open education material which can be used by teachers for free. We are also working on developing ‘train the trainer’ sessions to learn others how to moderate these types of sessions with youngsters themselves.”

Thanks so much Aileen! Are you living in Germany and do you want to know more about Die Zukunfstbauer or want to help them out, either via volunteering or funding, please contact them via hello@zukunftsbauer.schule. You can also stay updated via their Facebookpage.

 

Foresight in Business and Society

We’re kicking off a new blog series today: Foresight Educators.  Teaching the future is unfamiliar to most teachers, but a few are leading the charge, and this series describes and celebrates their achievements.  If you have taught the future in your class, contact us. We’d love to feature you here. 

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Educator:  Sam Miller
Course: Foresight in Business and Society
Level: Undergraduate
Institution: Mendoza College of Business, University of Notre Dame
Teaching the future since: 2007
Email:  miller.549@nd.edu 

In 2007, Carolyn Woo, dean of the Mendoza College of Business at Notre Dame told Professor Tom Frecka “You cannot lead if you don’t know what is coming at you, and where the opportunities for growth are.” The accounting professor accepted her call to action, visited the University of Houston’s Foresight program, and launched a course.  Foresight in Business and Society is now required for all 700 juniors each year in the Mendoza College.  

About the Course

The course objectives address the 21st century skills that business leaders are looking for –
Develop an awareness of important issues and trends affecting society, including issues related to sustainability.

  • Develop an understanding of the methodologies and tools used by organizations to identify trends, to consider the implications of change, to plan for alternative futures, and to suggest solutions leading to preferred futures.
  • Develop various thinking and visionary skills, including critical/analytical thinking, systems thinking and creative thinking to effectively address complex problems.
  • Explore specific responses and interventions to these issues and trends by government, business, NGOs, think-tanks, and other organizations.
  • Produce well-reasoned research studies that address major societal issues, consider trends and future implications for society and business, and suggest appropriate solutions, in light of moral and ethical concerns.

Students work in teams of four.  They select a domain for their research, gather and analyze data on that domain, determine the baseline (expected) future based on trends and drivers, create plausible alternative futures, and discuss potential business and ethical implications.  See the abbreviated syllabus here.

Some of the chosen domains have been – The Future of Indonesia, Microfinance in Tanzania, Financial Inclusion in Brazil, Retail in South Africa, Honey Bees(!), Work, U.S. Medical Treatment, and Mobile Commerce in the U.S..  Each of these projects is described here.

Each team is also paired with a mentor in business and industry who serves “as a resource for the student teams, providing a real-world perspective as they advise them on their projects. Mentors provide context as to how their project would be approached in a real-world business setting, guidance on focusing the topic, feedback on the status and direction of the team, and possibly recommendations on information resources for the team to review.” (www.foresight.nd.edu/student-projects/mentor-a-student-team)  Tom Buccellato is the CFO of Ventures, Commercial and Communications at GE and a Mendoza College graduate.  He has been mentoring foresight teams for five years.  While he teaches the undergraduates a great deal about business, he said that he has found that the excellent students at the College actually inform his thinking about the future as well.

How they began teaching the future

The Mendoza College of Business is one of the leading undergraduate business schools in the country, being ranked either #1 or #2 by Bloomberg Businessweek over the last six years.  The College sees the course as a distinction that contributes to its excellent reputation. “This signature course, required for all business majors, provides junior-level students with the framework to identify global trends, and to analyze how these trends will impact business decisions in an increasingly complex marketplace.” (www.foresight.nd.edu)

Using what Professor Frecka found in Houston and at other schools, Jay MacIntosh, a consumer products and tax consultant from Ernst and Young, launched a pilot course in Fall 2008.  He and Suzanne Coshow, a sociologist at Notre Dame, scaled the course up for all students in Fall 2009.

The course won an IBM Smarter Planet Faculty Innovation Award in 2011.  “We need to focus on developing more advanced skills so that students around the world are equipped to tackle real-world issues when they enter the workforce,” said Jim Corgel, general manager of IBM Academic and Developer Relations.

Sam Miller took a leadership role in the foresight program in 2010 after coming to Notre Dame in 2009 from a career in manufacturing and marketing.  He was also the Director of the University’s Gigot Center for Entrepreneurship and a member of the Board of Directors for Teach the Future.  He has also introduced the course as an elective in the College’s MBA and Executive MBA programs.

Tim Balco has taught four sections of the course each semester since 2013.  A former legal researcher and teacher, he says that this course is different from any other course these students take.  The difference, to put it briefly, is that the course is not about “the future” as such, but more about the skills needed to think about and influence the future successfully.  There are no “right” answers for these outstanding students to memorize and give back on tests.  Rather the course requires a habit of mind that appreciates uncertainty and tradeoffs, one that uses creativity and imagination as much as data gathering and analysis.  Tim says that some students take to it right away.  Others struggle for a while, but all come to appreciate that they have been introduced to skills they will use throughout their careers.  And see what students and business leaders have to say about Foresight in Business and Society in their own words.

The vision of Teach the Future is that every undergraduate learns how to anticipate and influence the future as a general education requirement.  Every business school and indeed every college and university should imitate what this leading business school has done.  If they do, their students will be better prepared with the skills to be successful in the 21st century.
 

Let kids guide you into the future

Adults should listen to us, because we will be living in the future longer than them.

This is one of the statements made by elementary school pupils in the Dutch city of Breda. And who could argue with it? Listening to kids can really help us all to look at the future in unexpected ways.

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Recently Teach the Future joined forces in the Netherlands with creative incubator PakhuisB and set-up an educational package for elementary school teachers. Within a timeframe of 6 weeks the teachers engaged their pupils actively in exploring their feelings and visions on the future. The goal was for pupils to experience the influence they have on the future and to become active in creating their preferred one. With various tools (such as card games, sketching & drawing and group workshops) the pupils were inspired and challenged to play with their perspectives on the future.

This class program elicited many interesting thoughts and feelings amongst youngsters. Such as: “When I think about the future I feel a little anxious because I don’t know what will happen and at the same time excited to try out new things in the future.” Or: “When I grow up I want to be an archaeologist. I can set goals in the present to strive for this dream and realise it in the future.”

Watch a ten-minute compilation (in Dutch) with many more quotes and reactions of kids about future related topics and get inspired! 

I feel that it would be better if people always have a spare job, in case they lose the one they have currently.

In addition, Teach the Future & PakhuisB, in cooperation with the TrendRede team, also organised a ‘KinderTrendRede’ in Breda. This is an event where a panel of selected pupils of various Breda based schools present the future visions of all schools combined to the citizens and deputies of the municipality of Breda. This future pupil council shows what kind of future they would want to live in. Advice included topics like deregulation to decreasing loneliness amongst elderly people, a changing job market to climate awareness.

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I think the municipality should award people who are active in preserving nature. Handing out prices will stimulate more people in our city to help out nature.

Read the full content of the pupils’ future visions over here. Watch the aftermovie of this event (in Dutch) below and the full video of the TrendRede (in Dutch) over here.

Want to organise similar lessons or event in your city or country? Please contact Erica Bol for more information: Erica [@] teachthefuture.org

// Text by Els Dragt

Peter Bishop on
Facebook Live March 28
with Rachel Calderon
and Dr. Nilda Perez

The founder of Teach the Future, Dr. Peter Bishop, will be interviewed live on Facebook at 8 pm (Eastern Time) on Wednesday, March 28, 2018. Everyone is encouraged to join the conversation and submit questions and suggestions. 

Dr. Nilda Perez and her co-host Rachel Calderon will interview Peter for their Foresight Strategies Group. The topic will be "Teaching the Future: Is This Possible?" and we'll discuss how it is critical to empower young people by showing them how to anticipate a range of possibilities and to influence the course of events. 

Join us 8 pm (Eastern) on Wednesday, March 28 for a 30-minute program at https://www.facebook.com/drnildaperezfanpage. We look forward to your participation in the program. If you miss it, just come back to play the archived show later. 

 

 

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New Futures Program for Elementary Students in Breda, Netherlands

Erica Bol leads elementary students in an exercise developed by Teach The Future. 

Erica Bol leads elementary students in an exercise developed by Teach The Future. 

In the Dutch city of Gemeente Breda, ambassadors of Teach the Future joined forces with creative incubator PakhuisB and set-up an educational package for elementary school teachers.

Within a timeframe of 6 weeks, teachers can engage their pupils actively in thinking about their feelings and visions of the future. This approach inspires pupils to take an active part in creating their preferred future. Check out video footage of a session over here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist…

In addition, Teach the Future & PakhuisB, inspired by and in cooperation with the Trendrede team, also organized a ‘KinderTrendRede’ in Breda. This is an event where a panel of selected pupils of various Breda based schools will present the future visions of all schools combined to the citizens of Breda. These pupils will show Breda what kind of future they want to live in.

Want to organize lessons or a similar event in your city or country?
Please contact Erica Bol for more information: Erica@teachthefuture.org

Dutch children share their ideas from an exercise by Teach The Future.

Dutch children share their ideas from an exercise by Teach The Future.

Lesson of the Month: An Educator's Guide for Realistic and Creative Strategies for Thinking about the Future

Even if you just need to teach your associates a more positive way to think about the future and how we can influence it, this guide is easy to read and use. If you need a low-cost activity to pursue in a classroom, it's wonderful. 

Margo Greenwood:

By connecting with ideas about the future, we have an opportunity to purposely navigate between anxiety and apathy, to imagine and design new futures. So, how do we collectively reclaim discussions of the future? 

Download your copy here: https://library.teachthefuture.org/product/an-educators-guide-realistic-and-creative-tools-for-thinking-about-the-future/