About Future Studies

Futures studies, also called futurism or futurology, is the study of examining some possible, probable, or preferable futures and their outcomes. 

It may be considered a branch of the social sciences and an extension of history. Futures studies sometimes called “futures” by field’s practitioners seek to understand what is likely to continue and what could plausibly change.

Part of the discipline thus seeks a systematic and pattern-based understanding of past and present, and to determine the likelihood of future events and trends.

Unlike the physical sciences where a narrower, more specified system is studied, futures studies concerns a much bigger and more complex world system. The methodology and knowledge are much less proven as compared to natural science or even social science like sociology and economics. 

What is a futurist?

A professional futurist is a person who studies the future in order to help people understand, anticipate, prepare for and gain advantage from coming changes.  It is not the goal of a futurist to predict what will happen in the future.  The futurist uses foresight to describe what could happen in the future and, in some cases, what should happen in the future.

Most people use some sort of foresight all the time – something as simple as listening to the weather forecast to prepare for the next day. A professional futurist uses formal methods to develop descriptions of possible futures.  The output of a futures study may include the driving forces, assumptions, evidence or indicators of the futures.  A futurist is more likely to say how or why a future could appear rather than to say what the future will be.

One of the founding principles of the field of futures studies is the idea of personal and organizational choice.  Although the future is unknown, a person can identify possibilities, select the most favorable outcomes and attempt to influence events to create a desired future.

By considering systems and human agency, futurists help identify choices that affect the future, for ourselves and future generations.