EUROFUTURES: the European Futures Studies Federation

Foresight

ISSN: 1463-6689

Article publication date: 1 December 2005

108

Citation

Mettler, P. (2005), "EUROFUTURES: the European Futures Studies Federation", Foresight, Vol. 7 No. 6. https://doi.org/10.1108/fs.2005.27307fac.002

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited


EUROFUTURES: the European Futures Studies Federation

EUROFUTURES: the European Futures Studies Federation

European futurists and futures-oriented institutions have agreed to participate in preliminary activities leading to the foundation of EUROFUTURES – the European Futures Studies Federation (EFSF). At the time of writing, nearly 80 European researchers in futures studies from 20 EU Member States and three associated member states had agreed to take part in forerunning activities of the foundation. In addition, 13 futures research institutions from nine EU Member States and one from an associated member state are supporting the initiative.

The foundation of EFSF will take place on the occasion of the EUROPROSPECTIVE IV Conference in Arc-et-Senans, France, 18-21 May 2006. The activities leading up to EFSF’s foundation are presently being coordinated by Peter H. Mettler.

The rational for establishing EFSF is two-fold:

  1. 1.

    The two existing “world” organizations, the World Future Society (WFS) and the World Futures Studies Federation (WFSF) pay insufficient attention to Europe;

  2. 2.

    Although various Europe-centered organizations with futures interests exist, none provides a European umbrella for all European futurists, a professional home for European futurists and a professional futures-oriented European partner body for relevant directorates of the European Commission.

European futures research activities have varied over time. In the 1960s and 1970s the Council of Europe was quite active in the field; and the newly founded World Futures Studies Federation was Euro-centered (and also more open than the WFS was then to the former Soviet Union or is today to the rest of the world). But in the last decade it has lost its former coverage of Europe considerably.

Europe has to develop a strong consciousness about the new geopolitical situation in which it and the world are today and will be in the future. The world’s hegemon is continuously ruining its own reputation while new super-powers are in the making: China, India and the renewed Japan, etc. Europe needs to address new phenomena like terrorism and criminal organi-zations as well as questions like: what will happen when the oil resources (the basis of our world’s economy) will be exhausted?

European futures research has lived almost a niche-existence so far. But the persistence of some of the pioneers has borne fantastic fruits. Today, Europe’s futures scene is marvelously rich and heterogeneous and the task to cover even only a fraction is Herculean. A few examples illustrate that wealth: change as well as European Knowledge Society Foresight (EUFORIA) is studied in Dublin; IPTS (Seville) hosts Foresight on Information Society Technologies in the European Research Area (FISTERA) and many other activities; research on converging technologies is taking place all over Europe; the future of civil society is researched, e.g. in Berlin (WZB), Brussels (UIA) and London ((LSE); Brussels has just seen a huge conference on the future of Iraq; the futures of NAFTA-EU relations as well as of NATO (or future transatlantic relations) are researched in many places.

EUROFUTURES, so far, proposes activities on six levels:

  1. 1.

    To act as an information and communication platform for European futures studies.

  2. 2.

    To promote European identities (European Civil Society empowers the Lisbon vision).

  3. 3.

    To promote European creativity and innovation in science and technology and their social/societal and environmental consequences, in production technology (robotized and de-centralized, with efficient use of raw materials), in new products as well as in all other fields[1].

  4. 4.

    Europe’s role in a globalized world and in the global information and knowledge society (prolonging Europe’s post-Second World War credo or cultural mission “reconciliation” into World-Innenpolitik)? Do we want ICT (e-society), microbiology, converging technologies or humanistic intelligence (cogno-sciences), etc. to dominate?

  5. 5.

    Europe’s future relationship with the US/NAFTA, NATO and/or other “world players”.

  6. 6.

    Methodological innovations (e.g. when will “states of societies” be critical and which ones should we expect to appear?).

Considerable interest has been expressed so far in the foundation of EFSF and many questions have been raised about its organisation and scope. For instance:

  1. 1.

    How will the federation’s constitution and its by-laws be shaped?

  2. 2.

    How to raise the necessary funds?

  3. 3.

    Which relations will the federation develop with, e.g:

  4. 4.
    • administrations of EU member states;

    • the EU, in particular with the Commission;

    • business, industry and finance (and, in particular, with their research institutions);

    • the World Business Council, OECD, NATO, the UN system (eg ECE), etc;

    • EU’s (Europe’s) civil society and its most heterogeneous components; and

    • other (scientific) bodies (like ICSU, UIA, etc);

  5. 5.

    Will EFSF conduct its own research (and if, what will be its specificity)?

  6. 6.

    Will EFSF be scientifically active (like in-house Delphi studies on European Visions)?

These and other issues will be the subjects of the preliminary activities to ensure that the EFSF is constituted properly with clear aims and objectives. Initial correspondence with interested parties has further highlighted the types of organisations who want to join and the types of studies desired (inter alia) (see Table I). Table I Types of studies suggested for EFSF

The need for a European-focused futures organization seems clear and is manifested by the strong support received for this initiative. If you would like to find out how you can participate in enriching the scope of Europe’s future, or for more information on EFSF and the Arc-et-Senans conference, send an e-mail to EUROFUTURES@suk.fh-wiesbaden.de

Notes

1. The list within the invitation to the conference “Key technologies for Europe” (EU Com, K2 – 19/20.09.2005) reads: Biotechnology, nanotechnology, information technologies, communication technologies, transport technologies, energy technologies, environmental research, social sciences and humanities, manufacturing and materials technologies, health research, agricultural research, cognitive sciences, safety technologies, complexity research and systemic, research in the services sector.

Peter MettlerProfessor for Long-Range-Planning, Futures Research, Technology Assessment and Societal Sciences, Wiesbaden University of Applied Sciences, Kurt-Schumacher-Ring 18, D-65197 Wiesbaden, and chairman of the board of FutureManagementGroup Inc., Eltville, both in Germany.

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