Teaching the Future: World Future Society

Teach the Future facilitated a high school workshop and conducted a panel presentation at the annual meeting of the World Future Society in San Francisco.

Katie King and I teamed with April Dennis from Future Problem Solving International (FPSI) to lead a group of high school students through the complete scenario development and problem solving process.  We helped three teams create a “future scene,” a description of a plausible future that contained some issues and challenges.  Two teams worked on the future of social media, and the other team developed a scenario for the future of work in the age of automation.  After the break, April took over and walked the students through the six-step problem solving process.  It was really quick (one morning), but all the students said that they were glad that they came.  In fact, one said she wanted to be a futurist after that session.  Fist Pump!

The next day, I moderated a session called “Teaching the Future: Experiences from the Field.”  The panel consisted of four foresight professionals who teach the future at the four different educational levels --

  • Secondary -- Katie King taught the future to 8th graders at South Bay Middle School in Eureka CA.  They read futuristic novels in English class and applied those ideas to the present and to the future using foresight perspectives and techniques.
  • College -- Sam Miller taught in and directed a course on Foresight in Business and Society at the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame.  Mendoza has been ranked as the Number 1 undergraduate business school in the U.S. for the last five years.  Every undergraduate takes the course, the only required foresight course in the U.S.
  • Professional -- Uri Avin described how urban planners use scenarios in their work.  He is a member of the Open Planning Tools Group that is developing units on scenario planning for professional schools in urban planning.
  • Executive -- Bob Harrison manages an executive education program for mid-career law enforcement officers.  The backbone of that program is five days on strategic foresight, including scenario development and strategic planning.

These courses should be typical; unfortunately, they are not.  In many cases, they are unique, one of a kind.  That is why Teach the Future is devoted to bringing this type of teaching to secondary, college, professional and executive programs across the world.

It was an honor to work with The World Future Society (WFS), the public face of the futures movement.  One of the WFS goals is to attract young people to the Society and to the field so it was a pleasure to introduce the insights and tools of foresight and futures studies to the membership, both young and old.