Futures-thinking in various ways may or may not be expanding. But it is clearly an ever-changing activity, and appears to be ever more fragmented by culture, subject matter, style, and ideology. ‘Futures Studies (FS)’ as a subset of this larger activity is highly problematic as a viable entity, due to seven disabling myths: that FS is a field, that futurists are generalists, that futurists are primarily ‘futurists’, that FS does what no one else does, that FS is generally understood and appreciated, that FS is static, and that FS is a community. In contrast to these idealized but unsupported myths, the world of futures-thinking is presented as it really is, based on the author’s preparation of over 20,000 abstracts of futures-relevant literature over the past 30 years. Underlying complexity and wide diversity are sketched in three synoptic charts on the six purposive categories of futures-thinking (and 115 different terms that have been used), 17 general topical categories, and 12 generic continua on which futures-thinkers can be located. Based on this complex and fuzzy reality, futures studies should embrace its distinctiveness and strive to be a horizontal field connecting all others—a visible, respected, and ever-renewing network of humble hubs for integrative ‘big picture’ thinking about trends and visions of probable, possible, and preferable futures. To attain this status in the decades ahead, FS must communicate a shared and frequently-revised vision, emphasize all six purposive categories (especially integration and questioning), develop a serious global information system (and use it), establish an academic presence at leading institutions, fight back against ignorant futurist-bashers, promote multiple excellences, engage in ‘second profession’ recruitment and training, and secure adequate funding. These actions are necessary for establishing any meaningful ‘futures studies’ community.
Futures – Elsevier
Published: Apr 1, 2002
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