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Report from Anticipation 2022

It was inspiring to participate in the 2022 Anticipation conference held in Tempe, Arizona on November 16-18, 2022.

Here’s how the website describes this landmark conference in foresight thinking:

Anticipation 22 is a unique, radically interdisciplinary conference for exploring how ideas of the future inform action in the present. With an emphasis on just futures, we seek contributions that explore equity and fairness and question who imagines futures and with which impacts. We invite researchers, scholars and practitioners engaging with anticipation and anticipatory practices to come together to deepen their understanding and create productive new connections.”

In preparing for my presentation I interviewed two individuals who are in very different places with their future thinking development. First off, I spoke with Hauson Le, who is just starting his career as a futurist in the local government space. You can see this interview here:

Also, I spent time speaking with my colleague, high school instructor John D. Gresham with the Katy Independent School District in Katy, Texas.

Here are excerpts from my conversation with Dr. Gresham:

Our high school students desperately seek to have an understanding of context for why they are learning what they are learning in school. One issue is the course content itself--students seldom see a direct relationship to their world outside of school based on what they are taught in many classrooms.

A new framing of learning is needed to make courses more relevant thereby increasing student engagement and interest.

One way to increase this relevance is through the addition of a Futures perspective into the curriculum of every class through an additional learning outcome that addresses the relevance of the content being presented. Including a Futures perspective in the cross-curriculum mapping of high school courses introduces connective material between the courses, creating transdisciplinarity throughout the experience. This transdisciplinarity helps our students see beyond the individual classroom walls and connects content areas throughout the campus. This connection, when coupled with a teaching of Futures thinking and perspective-taking, brings to the student, relevance to the world outside the classroom, a way for setting a learner on a path into a future they can visualise for themselves, and the ability to reflect on what that learner wants from their life experiences.

College Board’s AP Capstone program is a giant leap into the educational future of what a new paradigm of learning could be. From inquiry- and project-based learning, students are conducting self-directed learning with a sense of authenticity and agency. As a context for every research project in our AP Research classes here at Tompkins High School, each student explores the future implication of their research – how it affects the researcher, the academic disciplines contributed to by the research, and the future of the beneficiaries of the research, be it humanitarian , technological, or other.

This Futures outcome perspective guides these students in their research, focusing their work on a clear purpose, with a longer-term horizon than the immediate gratification of a grade. With this course, there is more of an intrinsic motivation at work, outside of the strategic motivation of earning a high GPA for college applications. Students are undertaking research that in many cases is larger than themselves. Through seeing a preferable future outcome for their research, students are motivated by the experience of learning for a purpose, a purpose understood because of their understanding of the future implications of the work they are doing today.”

Dr. Gresham is spot on with his observations on bringing college prep into futures thinking. You can hear more of his interview here:

2022 was a great year and now I am turning my attention into developing publications to support teachers and students globally.

Happy New Year and stay tuned!

Best always,

Learn more about Anticipation 2022 here.


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