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Foresight Development
Personal Foresight Skills Practice + General Foresight Education

Promoting the spread of required foresight curricula in universities the world over is a major priority for the ASF. Our community has developed a required (core) introductory undergraduate course in Foresight Development (futures studies education plus personal foresight skills practice). The first instance of this unique course, first taught Fall 2007, now exists at the University of Advancing Technology, a distinguished four year university in Tempe, AZ, whose mission is educating innnovators of the future.

Course materials for this fifteen week course can be found online at our creative commons-licenced wiki, Foresight Development - Course Wiki. All foresight educators are invited to use and modify this material for your own courses. Course slides are also available to qualified instructors on request.

Are you a foresight educator or researcher, or interested in becoming one? Please join ASF's Foresight Education & Research Network (FERN), a group of 150+ individuals presently teaching or researching foresight education around the world. Help us spread quality foresight education globally!

Course Intro:

Today's students face a very different world than their parents did. They will live longer, change careers faster, learn new skills more frequently, and have more freedom than ever to choose their experiences, social networks, and values. The rollercoaster of scientific and technological (sci-tech) change runs faster every year, spinning us irreversibly toward a very extraordinary future. Our planet is wiring up into one vast, instantaneous, transparent and increasingly intelligent global network, just one of many sci-tech innovations that are creating amazing new opportunities for business and society.

Yet there are great challenges ahead as well. Fundamental problems (hunger, drought, disease, overpopulation, poverty, underemployment, corruption, human rights violations, violent conflict) persist in the developing world, and the most developed countries (MDCs) are gaining new problems (obesity, addiction, dependence, institutional educational decline, media centralization, erosion of democracy) related to their affluence. What’s more, several global problems (environmental degradation, climate change, global security, rising energy cost) are likely to get worse before they get better, and the world is now so interconnected that big problems anywhere are becoming everyone's problem. Most curiously, cultural change in developed societies the world over is in many ways "saturating," or heading for one common, stable type of future, while our technology continues to speed up and complexity all around us. Economic, political, legal, social, environmental, and even ethical standards in every nation on the planet are moving toward one common set (with small variations between nations) of global human rights and entitlements—and most of the developing nations are seeing the fastest changes and disruptions.

In our lifetimes, benefits and leverage from the positive use of science, technology, business, politics, and social activism will only get more powerful, while "immune systems" guarding against the rising potential dangers in our high-tech world will only get more important. Meanwhile automation, computers, robots, and avatars/agents are progressively exceeding our biological capabilities, and becoming increasingly intimate extensions and representations of our individual selves. There may come a time this century when our most advanced technology becomes 'organic' (evolved, not built by humans) and when our biological selves become 'technologic' (increasingly closely connected to our modern machines).

Some time after 2015 the main way most of us talk to the web may be by speaking natural sentences, through what is called a 'conversational interface.' Shortly after that, many of us may be using software avatars, or 'cybertwins,' which will act like simple secretaries for us, and which will answer our questions (they will in turn ask 'the web') when we want to do any complex thing. These twins will model our personality, and because they will use artificial intelligence, they will become increasingy useful advisors to us, improving our global 'digital democracy', and at the same time, better "copies" of us every year. When we die, our friends may continue to talk to these twins, as they will be the best available '3D digital scrapbooks' of our lives, our stories, and our personalities. Some of us may even allow them to continue to improve their intelligence over time, until one day they "feel" to our survivors like we are still "here."

Are you ready for the extraordinary future? You should be, because a good deal of it is already here in nascent (beginning, blossoming, embryonic) form, as we will see in this course. Every choice you make today helps steer the future in a direction you choose. What an extraordinary, special time to be alive.

Humans have practiced creating, discovering, planning for, and benefiting from change since the dawn of our species. Foresight is an empowering skill to have, and something you can get better at every year of your life, with practice. Come learn how.

Course Description:

Foresight is the act of looking to the future. This course helps you learn better global, business and personal foresight, so you can better enjoy and manage your own future. This course will explore the big picture history of accelerating change from universal, historical and technological perspectives, and consider global trends that are affecting individuals, society, businesses and governments. Additionally, the course will examine how organizations make bets on the future, and gives the student a chance to explore career prospects in a variety of fields. Finally, discussion of how biology, psychology, community and culture help and hinder personal thinking about the future will be discussed. We will explore four fundamental foresight skills: creating the future (innovating products and services); discovering the future (models, trend identification and analysis); planning the future (developing shared goals and processes); and benefiting in the future (achieving measurable positive environmental, social, or economic results). Assignments will be personalized to your own foresight goals, and include brief readings, writing, discussions, debates, visuals, film, podcasts and games.

Learning objectives include:

  • Critical Thinking
  • Integral Thinking
  • Systems Thinking
  • Foresight Development
  • Acceleration Awareness
  • Lifelong Learning and Study Skills
  • Evolutionary and Developmental Models of Change
  • Creating, Discovering, Planning and Benefiting Skills
  • Universal, Global, Societal, Organizational, and Personal Systems Thinking
  • Basic Technology, Economic, and Sociopolitical Literacy (History, Current Affairs, Futures Studies)

Contact John Smart if you would like to join ASF's curriculum development or review communities for this course.


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