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Article
Publication date: 28 August 2009

Chris Riedy

This paper aims to draw on a global scan of futures literature undertaken for the State of Play in the Futures Field (SOPIFF) project to investigate the contribution of

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to draw on a global scan of futures literature undertaken for the State of Play in the Futures Field (SOPIFF) project to investigate the contribution of futures work to averting looming sustainability challenges and suggest new strategies for influencing policy and practice.

Design/methodology/approach

The SOPIFF project used an integral meta‐scanning framework to review publicly available futures material, providing a rich source of material to use in assessing the influence achieved by futures work. The framework categorizes futures work according to organizational type, social interests, methods, domains and geographic location.

Findings

On the whole, the influence achieved by futures work is disappointing given that many futurists are strongly committed to bringing about more desirable futures. Some qualified success stories include science and technology foresight, getting sustainability challenges onto the social agenda and small‐scale, distributed initiatives.

Research limitations/implications

Limitations of the scanning process include heavy reliance on publicly available material, prioritization of breadth over depth of analysis and the physical and cultural location of the researchers. Future iterations of the research should go beyond public material, undertake deeper analysis of scanning hits and draw in more non‐western and non‐English work.

Practical implications

The paper proposes four strategies for increasing the influence of futures work: methodological renewal, political engagement, individual capacity building and participatory approaches.

Originality/value

The paper uses the recently developed integral meta‐scanning framework to provide a novel view of the futures field. The findings will be of value to foresight practitioners that are seeking to influence public policy and sustainability.

Details

Foresight, vol. 11 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-6689

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 28 August 2009

Richard Slaughter and Chris Riedy

This paper draws on research undertaken for the State of Play in the Futures Field (SoPiFF) project and aims to explore the contribution of futures work to understanding

Abstract

Purpose

This paper draws on research undertaken for the State of Play in the Futures Field (SoPiFF) project and aims to explore the contribution of futures work to understanding and resolving aspects of the global problematique and to examine the social interests evident in futures work.

Design/methodology/approach

The project used an integral meta‐scanning framework to review publicly available futures material. The framework categorizes futures work according to organizational type, social interests, methods, domains and geographic location (details of the methodology are outlined in the accompanying introductory paper as well as on the web site created for the project).

Findings

The futures field has made a series of significant contributions to understanding the global problematique and has contributed to the pre‐conditions for its resolution. However, the bulk of mainstream futures work does little to improve the preparedness of humanity for looming future crises. More innovative futures work remains marginalized and largely ignored by the powerful and the wider public. There is a strong case for more effective political engagement than has occurred hitherto.

Research limitations/implications

Further research is needed on shared definitions for the field, interactions with the media, public and other fields of enquiry and action, measurement of individual foresight capacity, strategies for achieving influence – particularly in the political sphere, the role of subcultures within the futures field and suitable publishing strategies.

Practical implications

The paper recommends specific actions to promote and publicize good work, provide annual digests of futures‐related information, develop and use focused briefings, provide support for “cutting‐edge” futures work, further develop advanced futures methods, create new alliances, build the social capacity for foresight and strengthen the nexus between foresight and philanthropy.

Originality/value

The paper uses an integral meta‐scanning framework to provide a novel analysis of the futures field. The findings will be of value to all futures and foresight practitioners that are interested in the future success of the field.

Details

Foresight, vol. 11 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-6689

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 28 August 2009

Richard Slaughter

Abstract

Details

Foresight, vol. 11 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-6689

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Article
Publication date: 28 August 2009

Richard Slaughter

The paper aims to introduce the first iteration of an international research project into the “state of play” in the futures field (SoPiFF) using methodology developed at

Abstract

Purpose

The paper aims to introduce the first iteration of an international research project into the “state of play” in the futures field (SoPiFF) using methodology developed at the Australian Foresight Institute (AFI).

Design/methodology/approach

The paper outlines the overall approach and the methods it employed, along with some implications and emerging themes from this first iteration.

Findings

The paper casts new light on patterns of activity in the futures/foresight arena that, in turn, lead to policy questions, including those of purpose and effectiveness.

Originality/value

The SoPiFF project is of interest not only for its early results, but also for the use of the metascanning methodology outlined here. At one level it draws attention to the nature of the foresight practitioner's toolkit. At another it may also help to guide decisions about future resourcing options and the nature of training that is offered within the domain.

Details

Foresight, vol. 11 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-6689

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Article
Publication date: 9 August 2013

Richard A. Slaughter

The purpose of this paper is to give an introductory overview of the special issue of On the Horizon (OTH) on responses to the author's book, The Biggest Wake‐up Call in

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to give an introductory overview of the special issue of On the Horizon (OTH) on responses to the author's book, The Biggest Wake‐up Call in History (BWCH).

Design/methodology/approach

The author does not comment on all the contributions to this special issue, but summarises his view of some of the most valuable suggestions for further work that have been put forward.

Findings

The author's view is that, overall, these contributions to the special issue of OTH more than fulfil the goal of commenting on and, in some cases, extending the core concerns of BWCH.

Originality/value

If the BWCH and the papers presented in this special issue can play even a small part in the process of waking up and taking responsibility then people can all breathe a little easier. People can look their kids in the eye and know that they know the present generation did what was required as well as it could.

Details

On the Horizon, vol. 21 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1074-8121

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Article
Publication date: 10 November 2014

Richard A. Slaughter

The purposes of this paper are as follows. Part one examines the role of denialism in the context of proposals advanced through the much-abused Limits to Growth (LtG…

Abstract

Purpose

The purposes of this paper are as follows. Part one examines the role of denialism in the context of proposals advanced through the much-abused Limits to Growth (LtG) project. Part two uses three sets of criteria (domains of reality, worldviews and values) to characterise some of the interior human and social aspects of the “denial machine.” It uses these criteria to address some vital, but currently under-appreciated “interior” aspects of descent. (N.B. A succinct “primer” or overview of the concept and underpinning rationale for notions of “descent pathways” is provided in the introduction to this special issue.)

Design/methodology/approach

The paper draws on a number of authoritative sources that track the dimensions of global change and, specifically, the ways that humanity is tracking towards Dystopian overshoot-and-collapse futures. The significance of the LtG project is assessed in this context. Part two employs the criteria noted above to identify and open out the centrality of the human and cultural interiors.

Findings

Responses to the LtG project are shown to have deprived humanity of the clarity and will to respond effectively to the emerging global emergency. The rise of climate change denialism has followed suit and made effective responses increasingly difficult. A new focus, however, on some of the dynamics of reality domains, worldviews and values, clarifies both the nature of the problem and prefigures a range of solutions, some of which are briefly outlined.

Research limitations/implications

This is primarily a conceptual paper that suggests a range of practical responses. For example, re-purposing parts of the current information technology (IT) infrastructure away from financial and economic indices to those tracking the health of the planet. Also translating the case put forward here for a new generation of Institutions of Foresight (IoFs) into real-world start-ups and examples. Further research is needed into the uses and limitations both of positive and negative views of futures. It is suggested that the latter have more value than is commonly realised.

Practical implications

In addition to those stated above, the practical implications include new uses for IT infrastructure based on worldcentric – rather than financial and economic worldviews; designing and implementing a new generation of IoFs; and finding new ways to inform the public of impending Dystopian outcomes without exacerbating avoidance and depression.

Social implications

The social implications are profound. Currently, humanity has allowed itself to “tune out” and ignore many of the well-founded “signals” (from the global system) and warnings (from those who have observed and tracked real-world changes). As a result, it has outgrown the capacity of the planet to support the current population, let alone the 10 billion currently projected by the United Nations (UN). Something must give. Applied foresight can provide essential lead time to act before human actions are overwhelmed by forces beyond its control.

Originality/value

The paper draws together material from hitherto disparate sources to assess the LtG project. It also deploys key concepts from an integral perspective that shed new light on human and cultural forces that determine how people respond to the prospect of Dystopian futures. In so doing, it provides insight into why we are where we are and also into some of the means by which humanity can respond. Specifically, it suggests a shift from collapse narratives to those of descent.

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Article
Publication date: 28 August 2009

Dennis Ray Morgan

This paper aims to expand on the findings of the SOPIFF project by identifying eight futures schools of thought, and then analyze and critique these through the integral

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to expand on the findings of the SOPIFF project by identifying eight futures schools of thought, and then analyze and critique these through the integral futures (IF) framework. This paper, Part I, also aims to focus on the upper quadrants of the IF framework.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper adapts Wilber's integral theory to clarify various philosophical orientations towards the future. It also adapts Polak's approach to futures as a matter of “social critique and reconstruction”; however, here the approach is global, civilizational, and integral, so it proposes civilizational critique and integral reconstruction as a method for evaluating futures schools of thought.

Findings

The IF framework has proved to be a valuable theoretical and analytical tool since it clarifies not only orientations to the future but also demonstrates the dynamic lines of development and interactions throughout all four quadrants, illustrating how the four‐quadrant approach is an effective framework for understanding the crisis of civilization and the response needed at this time in history to bring about a preferred future.

Research implications/limitations

The paper draws and expands upon the findings of the SOPIFF project as a way to better understand the “global problematique.” Thus, this paper suggests some implications of that research and proposes the integral futures framework as a way to interpret research findings. Future research should attempt to develop and apply the IF framework similarly in order to realize a sustainable, integrally‐informed image of the future of human civilization.

Practical implications

An integrally‐informed approach to futures and foresight studies should help develop and improve futures methodology/practices in general. The IF framework helps to understand philosophical orientations underlying practices and applications.

Originality/value

This application of the IF framework to various mainstream futures schools of thought is original. It should help futurists to see and interpret the bigger picture regarding images of the future in a civilizational context by revealing the “crack” in the modern image of the future, how it relates to the current world crisis, and what is needed to heal the crack so that a new, more integrally‐informed, sustainable image of the future can emerge.

Details

Foresight, vol. 11 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-6689

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 28 August 2009

Graham H. May

As part of the State of Play of the Futures Field project this paper attempts to assess the nature of futures in Europe.

Abstract

Purpose

As part of the State of Play of the Futures Field project this paper attempts to assess the nature of futures in Europe.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper presents internet‐based research.

Findings

The paper reveals an overview of futures work in Europe.

Research limitations/implications

The review is based on web‐based information mainly in English.

Originality/value

The paper is part of a global study assessing the level of futures work.

Details

Foresight, vol. 11 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-6689

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 9 August 2013

Chris Riedy

The purpose of this paper is to explore metaphors of human awakening in four recent futures works and propose a research agenda on the nature and future trajectories of awakening.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore metaphors of human awakening in four recent futures works and propose a research agenda on the nature and future trajectories of awakening.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper reviews metaphors of awakening in Slaughter's The Biggest Wake‐up Call in History, the Great Transition Initiative, Gilding's The Great Disruption and Inayatullah's “Waking up to a new future”. It identifies seven characteristics of awakening and uses these to create an environmental scanning framework. It reports on a preliminary application of the framework and proposes a future research agenda.

Findings

The paper identifies seven signals of awakening: futures literacy, shifting values, activism, collective agency, engaged dialogue, distributed leadership and inspiring visions. While evidence for most of these signals can be found, it is often weak and dominated by other trends.

Research limitations/implications

The environmental scanning framework needs to be expanded using additional literature and testing. The question of when confrontation with apocalyptic future images can deliver positive outcomes remains unresolved.

Practical implications

Perhaps the single most important thing that could be done to help rouse sleeping humanity is to begin to make connections between the diverse movements identified in the paper and to see them as pieces of the larger puzzle of how we wake up. Maybe an “awakening movement” could provide a common goal in the twenty‐first century.

Originality/value

The paper is an original exploration of the metaphor of awakening in four prominent works on sustainable futures. It will have value to foresight practitioners and change agents who are building movements for sustainable futures.

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Article
Publication date: 9 August 2013

James W. Breaux

The purpose of this paper is to look at the communications strategy of the wake up call suggested by Slaughter and to explore alternatives and other perspectives on its

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to look at the communications strategy of the wake up call suggested by Slaughter and to explore alternatives and other perspectives on its transmissions and receptions.

Design/methodology/approach

This review uses a topical literature survey and synthesis method to critique conventional vs integral‐type communications strategies and suggests alternatives.

Findings

Communications are tricky. The alignment of the sender and receiver are crucial and can be improved or degraded depending on the contextual framework of each, as well as the perceived agency and interaction of the sender/receiver actors.

Research limitations/implications

This work was accomplished from the single viewpoint of the author, with literature references and a US‐centric, western bias.

Practical implications

The discussion about the variety of communication stratagem from the perspective of the receiver and, the context of the message, as well as the motivation of the sender may provoke changes which in turn could allow greater chance for success in establishing a glide path to sustainability.

Originality/value

This work is referenced to highlight the work of others, including the author of the book reviewed. The synthesis and suggested communications approach is original to the author of the paper.

Details

On the Horizon, vol. 21 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1074-8121

Keywords

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