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Understanding and teaching future consciousness

Tom Lombardo (Based at the Center for Future Consciousness, Rio Salado College, Scottsdale, Arizona, USA)

On the Horizon

ISSN: 1074-8121

Article publication date: 15 May 2009




The purpose of this paper is to describe the main forms and components of future consciousness, to identify the important values for enhancing future consciousness, and to describe a variety of educational strategies for heightening future consciousness.


This paper presents a historical review of the development of future consciousness and a psychological review of recent theory and research on its components and benefits, and argues for a teaching philosophy and strategy based on positive psychology and the development of virtues and wisdom.


Future consciousness is multi‐dimensional and involves all the major capacities of the human mind. A set of different forms of future consciousness has evolved over time, encompassing practical and social intelligence, mythic narrative, rationality and emotionality, science fiction, and future studies. Psychologically, future consciousness involves human emotion and motivation, learning and memory, all major forms of cognition, and self‐identity. Psychological processes that contribute to expansive, optimistic, and creative future consciousness can be effectively taught. The development of virtues necessary for enhanced future consciousness can be facilitated through future‐focused self‐narrative activities.


This paper provides a succinct and comprehensive review of the major historical forms of future consciousness and its basic psychological components, and develops an educational approach to teaching future consciousness based on this comprehensive review. The approach is unique in that it is grounded in comprehensive historical research, contemporary psychology, and recent thinking in the study of the future, and creates a virtue and wisdom based approach to teaching future consciousness that subsumes and transcends all traditional educational approaches.



Lombardo, T. (2009), "Understanding and teaching future consciousness", On the Horizon, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 85-97.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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