[Paleopsych] Ideas Bank: 60 Key Works: A Beginner's Guide to the Futures Literature
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60 Key Works: A Beginner's Guide to the Futures Literature
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Kjell Dahle, Ideas Bank Foundation, Oslo, Norway:
This is a presentation of 60 selected works within the realm of
futures studies. Earlier versions of the beginners guide have been
published in Slaughter 1995 and Slaughter 1996.
(1) The books and articles presented deal with possible, probable,
desirable and undesirable futures. My intention is to give the reader
a picture of what futures studies is about through a broad range of
practical examples. For this purpose, brief information is provided on
the background of each author.
Some of them may not use labels like "futures studies" or "futures
research" (not to mention "futurology"), about what they have written.
But they have all developed or converted knowledge in order to
contribute to long-term planning, the formulation of visions, or
social change. This is what futures studies is about.(2)
To make it easier for newcomers to browse amongst the rich offerings
presented here, the literature has been categorised into the following
Looking back - and ahead
The world problematique
As mutually exclusive categories are hard to find in the field of
futures studies, the categorisation will to some extent be arbitrary.
The notorious 1960s also meant the start of a golden age for futures
studies. Having been dominated by a few big North American "think
tanks", serving military and related industrial goals, the scope now
broadened tremendously. Futurists developed their own tools in the
shape of serious techniques and methodologies, and all kinds of
futurist organisations popped up around the world. I will now present
some sources to the state of the art in this "new" field of futures
studies around 1970.
The dynamic spirit of new academic fields often result in good
introductury textbooks. This is also the case with futures studies.
Some books from the 1960s and 1970s are still among the best
introductions to the field.
As early as in the middle of the 1960s, a major study was carried out
for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. OECD
felt the need for an account of the state of the art of technological
forecasting as well as practical applications. The work was done by an
Austrian, Dr Erich JANTSCH, and resulted in the classic "Technological
Forecasting in Perspective. A Framework for Technological Forecasting,
its Techniques and Organisation".
One of the main findings was that, in spite of its increasingly wide
adoption in industry, research institutes and military environments,
technological forecasting was not yet a science but an art. It was
characterised more by attitudes than by intellectual tools. The
development of special techniques had, however, gained momenteum in
the last few years. The book thus includes a thorough discussion of
more than 100 distinct versions of forecasting, grouped under some 20
approaches in four broad areas. Those are intuitive thinking, and
exploratory, normative and feedback techniques. Like other basic
terms, Jantsch defines them in ways that are still highly relevant.
The same year, in 1967, a quite different classic, "The Art of
Conjecture", was published in English. The author, Bertrand de
JOUVENEL, was the founder of "Futuribles International" in Paris.
Educated in law, biology, and economics, he worked as a journalist and
author. Later, he became the first president of the World Futures
Baron de Jouvenel mistrusted pretentious terms such as "forecast",
"foresight", "prediction" and "futurology", especially since
prognosis-makers are often credited with aspirations they do not (or
should not!) have. He wanted futures studies to be taken seriously,
and thus preferred the unpretentious term "conjecture", stressing the
uncertainty of the field. Like Jantsch, he regarded the intellectual
formulation of possible futures (futuribles) as a piece of art, in the
widest possible sense. By linking historical examples to current
problems, the book underlines the complexity and unpredictability of
society, and how difficult it is to make models of the future.
1967 was also the year of the first big international conference of
futures studies. It was held in Oslo with 70 participants from more
than a dozen countries in three continents. The conference was
designed to meet what was seen as a new trend within futures research.
After the departure from the military domination, the desire emerged
to use futurist tools on civilian problems. Could information
technology, systems analysis, operational research, forecasting,
anticipating, scenario-writing and "futures creation" be used against
such enemies as urban sprawl, hunger, lack of education and growing
These were the major challenges for the participants of the Oslo
conference, which was used as a source for the book "Mankind 2000". It
was edited by the main initiators, Robert JUNGK from the Institute for
Future Research in Vienna and Johan GALTUNG from the International
Peace Research Institute in Oslo. Jungk and Galtung both had most
diverse backgrounds, even for futurists. They were to become leading
international figures within the field in the years to come. Robert
Jungk was a German journalist, researcher and political activist. He
inspired the creation of a whole lot of futures institutions around
the world, academic as well as non-academic.(3) Galtung holds
university degrees in both mathematics and sociology; has worked in
five continents; and has been an advisor for ten UN organisations and
a guest professor at more than 30 universities. He succeeded Bertrand
de Jouvenel as the president of the World Futures Studies Federation.
In his contribution to "Mankind 2000", Galtung discusses the
traditional division of labour between ideologists who establish
values, scientists who establish trends, and politicians who try to
adjust means to ends. He claims that futures research rejects this
artificial compartmentalisation, and tries to develop a more unified
approach to the three fields. In a postscript, Jungk and Galtung
advocate an internationalisation and a "democratisation" of the field,
which should not be allowed to become 'the monopoly of power groups
served by experts in the new branch of "futurism".
Some national governments also came to see the potential of futures
studies. In the early 1970s, a very thorough report entitled To Choose
a Future" was presented by a Swedish Government committee, led by
cabinet member Alva MYRDAL. Its task was to give advice on the
development of futures studies in Sweden. It turned out to be most
The relationship between futures studies and public decision-making
and planning is a central issue in the report. According to the
committee, futures studies should help people shape their own future.
Like Jungk and Galtung, the committee saw a risk of futures studies
being the private preserve of influential specialists, thereby eroding
the democratic and political element in the shaping of the future.
Advise is given on how to avoid this, for instance always to present
several possible futures. According to the commission's
recommendations, the Secretariat for Futures Studies was established
the following year, attached to the Cabinet office.
"Handbook of Futures Research" is a US classic of the 1970s,
containing no less than forty-one articles about various aspects of
the new field. It was edited by Jib FOWLES, then chairman of the
graduate program in Studies of the Future which still exists at the
University of Houston.
He defines the field as "the effort to anticipate and prepare for the
future before it unfolds". The first part of the book deals with the
emergence and international growth of futures research, providing a
broad survey of institutions, literature, and people associated with
the new field. The handbook further presents the most common methods
and procedures of futures research, including scenarios, trend
extrapolation, the Delphi technique, technological forecasting and
assessment, simulation, and social forecasting. The dominant themes
within the field and substantive disagreements among futurists are
Most articles in the book are written by heavyweighters within their
subject. It is also a strength that the difficulties of futures
research have been given so much consideration. Methodological
shortcomings, tendencies of elitism, self-altering predictions and the
problem of values are among the subjects tackled. Finally, the
challenges to be faced by the new field of futures research are
"The Study of the Future. An Introduction to the Art and Science of
Understanding and Shaping Tomorrow's World." is a shorter classic from
1977. It is edited by Edward CORNISH, who is still the president of
one of the most important futures institutions, the US-based World
Future Society. The book was designed to meet the need for a brief,
readable, general-purpose introductory book.
Basic principles of futurism are discussed, as well as the US and
international development of the field. Futurists are seen as persons
interested in the longer-term future of human civilisation, using
non-mystical means to identify and study possible future occurrences.
The book presents methods and case studies, as well as future-oriented
organisations and the ideas of a dozen leading futurists (except
Bertrand de Jouvenel and Robert Jungk all are North Americans).
It was written with the broad assistance from members and staff of the
WFS, and evolved from the extensive project "Resources directory for
America's third century". Serving as a contribution to the U.S.
Bicentennial celebration in 1976, this project was a result of grants
from the National Science Foundation and the Congressional Research
André COURNAND and Maurice LEVY's book "Shaping the Future. Gaston
Berger and the Concept of Prospective" presents "La prospective" as a
French orientation to the future, radically different from trends
dominating in the United States and Great Britain. A fundamental idea
of La prospective is that the future as conceived by man, is a factor
in bringing about events that are to come.
Gaston Berger and his successors within this approach thus emphasise
the importance of human values and education in preparation for, and
as elements in, planning. This approach is contrasted to many
future-oriented activities in the Anglo-Saxon world; conceiving the
future as the inevitable extension of the present and favouring
short-term partial programs. This book from 1973 presents to
English-speaking readers the chief idea of La prospective and its
application to industrial and governmental planning in France,
especially in relation to the fourth and fifth National Plans. Gaston
Berger was Director of Higher Education in the French Ministry of
Education before founding "Centre International de Prospective".
The dynamic spirit of new academic fields often results in good
introductury text-books. This is also the case with futures studies.
Some books from the 1960s and 1970s are still among the best
introductions to the field. This embarrassing truth was one of the
reasons why Richard A. SLAUGHTER, now president of the World Futures
Studies Federation, initiated "The Knowledge Base of Futures Studies".
Three volumes were published in 1996 and a fourth in 2000.
Volume 1 considers the origin of futures studies and discusses some of
the social, cultural and historical reasons for their emergence.
Volume 2 presents case studies of different futures organisation and
explores a range of futures methodologies. Images, imaging processes
and social innovations are also discussed. Volume 3 presents new
directions in futures thinking and discusses the outlook for a new
millennium. In volume 4, futurists from all over the world present
themselves and their ideas.
One of the grand old men of international futures studies, professor
emeritus Wendell BELL of Yale University, supplied the field with
another presentation of the state of the art when he published his
Foundations of Futures Studies in 1997. For more than 30 years, the
author has tried to convince sociologists to give priority to futures
studies. These two volumes demonstrate that there is no lack of
arguments for such a choice.
Volume 1, History, Purposes, and Knowledge, delivers what the title
promises. Among other things, the author discusses - pro et contra -
whether futures studies is an art or an science, and he describes some
of the different methods used by futurists. Volume 2, Values,
Objectivity, and the Good Society, mainly deals with preferable
futures. After examining the values of a few key utopian writers
throughout history, he explains the ethical foundations of futures
studies and how they relate to all action.
Rolf HOMANN's book "Zukünfte - heute denken morgen sein" from 1998 is
an excellent introduction to the realm of futures studies in German
language. It is written in a way that makes it easily accessible for
individuals and companies without previous knowledge of the field.
Homann presents the toolbox of futures studies, including trend
research, morphology, Delfi, scenarios, futures workshops and chaos
research. Each method is being examined rather critically (and not
without humour). The book also discusses possible, desirable and
undesirable futures within fields like work, education, media and sex.
An important part of the books is the "Glossen"; short satirical
comments to concepts and themes from the book (often illustrated by
the artist Regine Scmidt-Morsbach).
The author strongly believes in a further quick development of
information technology, making virtual reality an important part of
our futures whether we like it or not. After presenting main futures
institutions of the world, the book ends with a draft to a manifest of
futures rights. The manifest includes the right to have alternative
visions of the future, the right to choose between them and the right
to act in accordance with one's choices.
LOOKING BACK - AND AHEAD
Time has passed since many of today's futurists became active, and
looking back can be most valuable. Even for futurists. Michael MARIEN
and Lane JENNINGS asked a number of prominent people from the US
"futures vogue" of the 1960s and 1970s to reflect upon how the reality
of the 1980s differed from what they had anticipated, and what had
been learned about social and technological change since then. The
answers resulted in the book "What I Have Learned".
Some of the 17 contributors update and revise their previous thinking.
Others summarise lessons learned rather than updating published
thinking of long time ago. Several contributors acknowledge that
predicting and prescribing the future is harder than once believed.
But they all agree that thinking about the future can be useful, not
only in anticipating certain developments, but also in asking better
questions and learning more about one's self.
The German futurist Ossip K. FLECHTHEIM took his look back a little
earlier. From his US exile, he introduced the word "futurology" as
early as 1943, searching for a logic of the future in the same way as
history is a search for the logic of the past. "History and
Futurology" from 1966 is an adapted collection of this frontrunner's
most important articles since the 1940s. He tries to assess the fate
of mankind in the coming centuries as objectively as possible, and has
been criticized for his belief in this kind of approach. Flechtheim, a
professor of political science at the Free University of Berlin, was
an active figure in the public debate almost until his death in 1998.
Richard A. SLAUGHTER, professor of foresight at the Swinton University
of Technology, Australia, and since 2001 the president of World
Futures Studies Federation, represents the next generation of
futurists. According to his book from 1995, "The Foresight Principle",
foresight is the process of attempting to broaden the boundaries of
perception by careful futures scanning and the clarification of
emerging situations. Foresight is not the ability to predict the
future, but a way of facilitating desirable individual and social
The author takes a brief look at the origins and development of the
Western industrial worldview, considering some of its costs. In our
time, he sees foresight as consciously working to complete the
transition to a more sustainable world while there is still time to
achieve it. Analysis and imagination are key words for foresight. In
addition, institutions of foresight are needed to secure better
implementation at the social and organisational level. Examples of
such institutions are the US Millennium Institute, the International
Futures Library created by Robert Jungk in Salzburg, and the no longer
existing US Congressional Clearing House on the Future. Strategies for
creating positive views of futures with young people are also
discussed by the author, who holds a PhD in the role of futures
studies in education.
In their book "Zukunftsforschung und Politik" from 1991, Rolf KREIBICH
et al analyse the development of German futures research, which
reached its peak in the late 1970s. A historical discussion leads up
to a presentation of the state of the art. After a decade of low
activity, they find the situation more promising.
Like so many others, these German futurists have moved their focus
from quantitatively oriented prognostics to more normative studies of
desirable futures. Comparative analyses of futures studies in France,
Sweden and Switzerland are included in the book, which is a result of
a project financed by the regional authorities of North
Far more critical voices than those mentioned above have also taken
their look back. There has been a Western hegemony in futures studies,
as in most other fields. The diversity and "unpredictability" of the
actors did not correspond very well with e.g. State Marxism. Georgi
SHAKHANAZOV's book "Futurology Fiasco. A Critical Study of Non-Marxist
Concepts of How Society Develops." is a translation of a Soviet work,
published in Moscow in 1982.
He saw the field of futures studies as a 'bizarre mixture of valuable
observations, quasi-scientific nonsense, and anti-communist
fabrications of the foulest'. Different approaches are discussed, and
the field is acknowledged for contributing to the gathering of
knowledge about various features on the road in front of us. But
according to the author all futurist approaches had in common that
they 'in no way refute the Marxist-Leninist postulate that socialism
From his Third World point of view, Ziauddin SARDAR has a somewhat
more elaborate critique of the development of futures studies. In his
essay "Colonizing the Future" from 1993, he analyses the evolution of
futures studies and claims that it is increasingly becoming an
instrument for the marginalisation of non-Western cultures from the
future. According to Sardar, even those futurists who are inspired by
non-Western cultures, tend to produce 'a grotesque parody' of
non-Western thought. His article was published in the international
journal "Futures" (a must for anyone who wants to get an idea what
serious futures studies are about). Rick Slaughter and Sohail
Inayatullah respond to Sardar's essay in the same issue. Having later
become the editor of "Futures", Sardar is himself an example of the
fact that futures studies also has room for critical people born in
the Third World.
A special issue of Futures edited by Colin BLACKMAN and Olugbenga
ADESIDA, published in 1994, was devoted to African futures studies.
Adesida, an economist/information systems analyst working with the
United Nations Development Programme's project "African Futures" based
in Abidjan, claims there is no place where a change from ancestral
worship to worship of future generations is more necessary than
This special issue takes stock of progress in the use of futures
studies concepts and methodologies in Africa, and discusses how such
studies could be better integrated into decision-making and planning.
A long-term view and a participatory approach are seen as essential in
Within the old Eastern block there were also futurists who, to some
extent, could operate within the main international networks of
futures studies. A prominent example is Igor BESTUZHEV-LADA, a
professor of sociology who has experienced all the changes of post-war
His article "A Short History of Forecasting in the USSR" in the US
journal "Technological Forecasting and Social Change", gives a most
thrilling description of the fields problems and achievements in the
region during different phases up to 1991. For the further development
of forecasting in his area, Bestuzhev-Lada recommends a normative
approach focusing on global imbalances. The task is to outline an
alternative civilisation able to overcome them, and the transition
The fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 had immense consequences for
futures studies in Eastern and Central Europe. These are analysed in
Erzsebet NOVAKY et al's book "Futures Studies in the European
Ex-Socialist Countries" from 2001. Although some contributions look
more like early drafts, it gives a comprehesive picture of the
development of futures studies in the different countries involved.
Even "official" futurists experienced a rather limited freedom during
the "communist" era. The dismantling of state planning and the
transition process to a market economy has, however, led to new
problems. Futures researchers that were once financed by the state,
have experienced dissolution and even incrimination. In the early
1990s, the interest for futures studies was rather limited in most
"Ex-Socialist" countries. People felt that they had had enough of
detailed planning and dubious forecasts. New politicians were caught
in "presentism" traps, focusing on short-term tasks only.
Comprehensive strategic studies for development of these countries
rarely appeared until the late 1990s, and then most often connected
with the question of how to meet the EU criteria for becoming future
members of the union. There is, however, a beginning optimism about a
new generation of futures studies becoming increasingly demanded in
the area. Hungarian futurists seem to be in the luckiest situation,
now as before 1989.
Some of the most famous futurists in the public eye deal mainly with
trends; they try to predict which futures are the most probable.
Post-Industrial Society, Future Shock, and Megatrends are only a few
of the widely diffused "trend" concepts originating from futures
In his popular book "The Coming of Post-Industrial Society" from 1973,
Daniel BELL presented the thesis that in the next 30 to 50 years a
post-industrial society would emerge, representing a dramatic change
in the social framework of the Western world. The creation of a
service economy, the primacy of theoretical knowledge and the planning
of technology are supposed to be among the central dimensions of this
The United States is used as unit of illustration. Bell (a Harvard
professor of sociology) launched the concept of "post-industrial
society" as early as 1962. When it comes to the growth debate, Bell
finds that both Kahn's post-scarcity ideas and the doomsday
predictions of "The Limits to Growth" are wrong.
Alvin TOFFLER launched his famous concept, "Future shock" in 1965. His
goal was to describe what happens to people who are overwhelmed by
change; how they manage - or fail - to adapt to the future. His
international bestseller "Future Shock" from 1970 was a result of
subsequent conversations between the author (a former journalist) and
researchers from a wide range of disciplines, as well as
industrialists, psychiatrists, doctors and hippies.
Unlike many other futurists, especially those dealing with trend
studies, Toffler emphasises soft, everyday aspects of the future. A
main conclusion is that the speed of change can often be more
important than the direction of change. The time frame of planning
must therefore be extended if we are to forestall technocracy. The
growth of futures research is seen as one of the healthiest phenomena
of recent years.
Yoneji MASUDA, a Japanese professor of information science, published
his bestseller, "The Information Society as Post-Industrial Society",
in 1980. He saw humankind as standing on the threshold of a period
when information values would become more important than material
values. This was a result of a new societal technology based on the
combination of computers and communications technology.
The first part of the book deals with the question of when and through
what stages the "information society" will be created. The second part
presents the author's theoretical and conceptual studies on the
information society. The discussion ends with "Computopia", the
author's vision of a preferred global society in the 21st century.
This society will encourage self-realisation and freedom of decision,
in contrast to his alternative vision, "Automated State", a horrible
Taichi SAKAIYA's "The Knowledge-Value Revolution" became another
Japanese bestseller within the field. Sakaiya is an economist,
essayist and novelist, and the author of more than 30 books. His
starting point is that the industrial society has reached its zenith,
and that the world is undergoing a gigantic transformation. In the
coming age, people will no longer be driven to consume more, but will
turn towards values created through access to time and wisdom. Rather
than buying a lot of goods and replacing them in rapid succession,
they will purchase high-priced items possessing preferred designs,
high-class brand images, high-level technologies, or specific
functional capabilities, and keep them for much longer.
"Knowledge-value" is the worth or price a society gives to that which
the society acknowledges to be creative wisdom". People of the coming
epoch can be expected to pay a high price for items that correspond to
the demands set by the social subjectivity of the group to which they
believe they belong. This will have enormous consequences for the
industrial world. Developing technology, design, rhytms and images
that match the social subjectivities of the times will thus be more
important for their success or failure than the literal products they
John NAISBITT sold as many as 9 000 000 copies of his book
"Megatrends", published in 1982. Here, the USA was described as a
society in-between two eras. Those who are willing to anticipate the
new era will be a quantum leap ahead of those who hold on to the past.
Ten empirical, mainly quantitative "megatrends" are presented,
including the transition from Industrial Society to Information
Society, from National Economy to World Economy, from Short Term to
Long Term Considerations, from Centralisation to Decentralisation,
from Institutional Help to Self-Help, from Representative Democracy to
Participatory Democracy and from Hierarchies to Informal Networking.
Naisbitt base his findings on content analysis of local newspapers,
because he finds trends to be generated from the bottom up.
The new economic order will not, as forecast by Daniel Bell and
others, be a service-based post-industrial society, but rather a
"hyper-industrial" society in which services are transformed into
mass-produced consumer goods. The microchip and advances in
biotechnology will lead to a new age that will profoundly transform
human culture. The new consumer society will be bitterly divided
between rich and poor. If the North remains passive and indifferent to
this, Attali feels sure that the peoples of the South will enter into
revolt, and one day, war. This will be unlike modern wars: it will
rather resemble the barbarian raids on Europe of the seventh and eight
An English-American professor of history, Paul KENNEDY, shifted his
main interest from the past to the future in the late 1980s. As a
result, an international bestseller on trends was published in 1993,
called "Preparing for the Twenty-First Century". It gives a generalist
view of some important global trends of our time. These include
demographic explosion, the communications revolution, biotechnology
and threats to the environment. Kennedy then discusses how prepared
the world's regions and nations are for the challenges that seem to be
However, in spite of the book's title and size, there is no real
analysis of practical solutions or of general worldviews. This shows
how a well-written book about the next century can have appeal, even
without the futurist tools that could have enabled the author to deal
more meaningfully with preparations for the 21st century.
Willis HARMAN's "Global Mind Change" from 1988 is a completely
different kind of "trend book". The author predicts a societal
transformation in the form of a paradigm change towards the end of the
20th century. This could be just as radical as the earth-shaking
shifts in view of reality that took place when the "modern" worldview
began to take shape in the 17th century.
According to Harman, the origins of present global problems are to be
found in the belief system supporting our whole economic structure.
The Establishment's solutions only deal with symptoms, instead of
accepting the need for fundamental change. Within the coming
worldview, we will accept reality both through physical sense data
(like today) and through a deep intuitive "inner knowing", being part
of a oneness.
Harman's point is not to accelerate or resist changes that take place,
but rather to help society understand the forces of historical change.
Dialogue and caring can help us through the process with as little
misery as possible. The author is a veteran of US futures studies,
with background in electrical engineering and systems analysis as well
Lester BROWN et al's "Vital Signs. The Trends That Are Shaping Our
Future represents still another kind of trend studies. This is an
annual series from the Worldwatch Institute in Washington DC, having
been published in at least17 languages over the last ten years. In
text and easy-to-read graphs, the 2002 version analyses more than 50
key indicators of long-term trends that track change in our planets
environmental, economic, and social health. Topics covered in Vital
Signs include food, agriculture, energy, the atmosphere, economy,
transportation, the environment and the military.
In addition, the series contains special features on less celebrated,
but still important trends, not normally covered by national and
international statistical agencies. These include subjects as
different as pecticide bans, bicycle production, increase in solar
cells and violence against women.
"States of Disarray" is a report from the United Nations Research
Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), presented in Copenhagen
during the 1995 UN Social Summit. It gives a comprehensive analysis of
the social effects of globalisation using a holistic and
multi-disciplinary approach. The report draws upon a big number of
global research programs, as well as special material form UNRISD's
worldwide network of scholars, activists and development
The quickening pace of change is found to have caught much of the
international community unaware. Capital, goods and people are now
moving with an enormous speed and complexity, thus creating enormous
social tensions. The belief in dynamic, well-functioning markets
resolving problems of human welfare is called a fallacy leading to
At the international level, social organisations have been overtaken
by transnational corporations and international finance institutions.
At a national level, many state institutions have been eroded or
eliminated. And at a local level, the imperatives of market forces and
globalisation have been undermining communities and families.
The report explores not only issues like poverty, unemployment,
inequality, crime and drugs, but also themes such as identity crisis,
weakening social solidarity and declining responsibility within
certain institutions. Future implications of globalisation are also
Current success criteria towards the end of last century were very
often economic growth, high consumption, and international
competition. Robert THEOBALD's book "Reworking Success. New
Communities at the Millennium" from 1997 presents "the required
success criteria for the twenty-first century". These are ecological
integrity, effective participatory decision-making, and social
According to the author, such a change in success criteria will
necessarily occur at the personal, group, and community level rather
than through top-down policy shifts. Here is no belief in "mapping"
reality. Theobald prefers to see reality as an impressionist painting,
which is partial and incomplete and where patterns shift as one looks
at it. Such an approach makes it easier to find common ground between
different positions, which is a must if we are to move out of current
Other key words for a coming change are, according to Theobald,
"servant leaders" seeking to empower others rather than control them),
a new political landscape (those who want to keep the Industrial era
vs those who are committed to creating a changed culture), and
decentralised governance with less coercion. Local and international
Internet fora will also be important. "Exciting and creative things
are happening everywhere, but at the same time there is a failure to
appreciate positive local steps.
The most unpredicted rise of OPEC in the 1970s (in some parts of the
world better known as the oil crisis), had consequences for the
futures literature. The risk with delivering short-term prognoses is
that you may lose your reputation quickly. It was not so easy anymore
to convince people that they could find the truth about development
trends in books written by gurus. There was a gradual shift in
interest from the realm of trends and predictions to the choice
between alternative futures, in the form of scenarios or utopias.
Scenario writing had, however, also been used by many trend
researchers, such as the highly controversial Herman KAHN. Aside from
what one may think of his political analysis, it has to be admitted
that he was a key figure behind the development of today's scenario
building. His 1967 book "The Year 2000" remains an important classic.
It includes scenarios both for the world society and for the USA, and
is inspired by methods from military studies. Here they were used to
explore possible consequences of nuclear war. Kahn, a scholar of
mathematics and physics, strongly believed in future economic growth
and prosperity, and that the ecological problems will be solved by
technological innovation. This book (produced at the Hudson Institute)
was the first volume from the "Commission on the Year 2000" project,
sponsored by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Basic concepts
like "surprise-free scenarios" and "standard world" were here
introduced to the public.
Scenarios are not necessarily about the most likely future or the
authors preferred future; they can be more or less probable and more
or less desirable. Michel GODET has defined a scenario as 'the
description of a possible future and the corresponding path to it'
(4). Godet is a professor of strategic prospective at the
Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers (CNAM), and represents the
French la prospective-tradition, believing in action and
non-predetermination. He is the author of 14 books on scenario
building, of which many have been translated to other languages
including English. His latest one, Creating Futures. Scenario Planning
as a Strategic Management Tool has a preface by the US futurist Joseph
Godet here presents five basic attitudes to the future that people can
choose from: the passive ostrich, the reactive firefighter, the
preactive insurer, the proactive innovative conspirator and the
anticipative actor. Anticipative actors blend the reactive, the
preactive and the proactive attitudes. In football language, they
blend the star players ambition with caution and urgency! Ostriches go
with the flow when things happen. Firefighters adapt to reduce damage.
Insurers try to prevent accidents and look for trend-based scenarios.
Conspirators try to be innovative. Their scenarios are normative; they
describe desirable alternatives.
Godet warns against drafting strategic plans based on proactive
innovating scenarios alone. Ambitions are not enough. There is a need
to be preactive, too, in order to prepare for expected changes in the
future environment. On the other hand, trend-based scenarios are no
longer the most probable ones, according to Godet. That was
yesteryear! Today, the most probable scenario in many instances
corresponds to deep breaks or even breakdown in current trends.
There are lots of different scenario methods around. Important
elements are, however, system analysis, retrospective analysis, asking
the right questions and identifying key variables, analysing the main
actors strategies, scanning possible futures and evaluating strategic
choices and options. Through case studies, Godet demonstrates how
scenario building can be used to prepare action plans for companies,
organisations and governments.
A growing number of studies on the year 2000 were initiated during the
1980s, using scenario methods. Their aim was to analyse long-term
alternative futures of nations or regions. The Institute of 21st
Century Studies (now called the Millennium Institute) was established
to promote and support such efforts. Martha GARRETT of that institute
edited "Studies for the 21st Century". This large book, published by
UNESCO's Futuresco project in 1991, provides an overview of about 50
projects from all continents. Both normative and exploratory studies
are included. Besides reports from the various projects involved, the
book presents the methodologies used and discusses lessons learned.
The professional and national backgrounds of the participants strongly
influence the approach that the project teams chose in their studies.
Still, there is a high degree of agreement on certain points, such as
sustainability being the key to a continuing future for humankind, and
the foundation of new public attitudes as a prerequisite for changes
An example of a 21st century study is Jim NORTHCOTT's "Britain in
2010". The main forecasts are on a "most probable" basis, although the
authors know that 'the one thing that can be predicted with certainty
is that some of the forecasts will turn out to be wrong'. Three other
scenarios are therefore added, identifying potential areas of choice.
The first one is market-oriented, the second is left-wing
interventionist, and the third illustrates an environmental-oriented
approach. The report was produced by a multidisciplinary group at the
Policy Studies Institute (PSI) in London, in cooperation with
Cambridge Econometrics. It was funded by a consortium of private
sector companies and government departments.
James ROBERTSON is a central figure within the New Economics
Foundation. His book entitled "The Sane Alternative. A Choice of
Futures." has a far more qualitative approach than most other scenario
works. The author, having a background from the British Cabinet Office
and from banking, sees the period up to about 2010 as a critical
period in the history of humankind. He briefly presents five very
different futures, all assumed to be realistic.
The scenarios are "Business as Usual", "Disaster" (giving up in
advance), "Authoritarian Control", "Hyper-Expansionist (HE) Future
(even bigger toys and more important jobs for the boys), and "The
Sane, Human, Ecological (SHE) Future" (a decentralized alternative
where the limits to growth are not technical and economic, but social
and psychological). Most of the book deals with the SHE-scenario; what
it is like and what we can do to develop it further.
Kimon VALASKAKIS et al's "The Conserver Society" was written to meet
14 Canadian government agencies' wish to study the implications of
different policy options (how to turn a potentially good idea into a
Five separate scenarios are presented, including three "conserver
societies". These are "Scotch gambit" (do more with less), the "Greek"
ideal (do the same with less), and The Buddhist scenario (doing less
with less and doing something else). Two mass-consumption scenarios
are added, the "Squander society" (do less with more), reminiscent of
a Roman orgy, and "Big Rock Candy Mountain" (do more with more). The
project was carried out by the futures research institute Gamma. 15
experts from as many different disciplines took part.
The ideas developed are thought to have had significant influence upon
the development of environmentally based arguments in a number of
areas such as health and agriculture, as well as providing a general
context within which the Canadians may cast environmental arguments in
Rüdiger LUTZ' book "Die sanfte Wende. Aufbruch ins ökologische
Zeitalter" gives a most comprehensive view of cultural trends,
accentuating the counter-culture-scene with its critique of the
industrial society and its practical experiments. Theories of
development are discussed, as well as classical and modern utopias.
The author ends up with discussing seven prototypes of possible
scenarios, all having supporters among futurists.
These are COMPUTOPIA (the information society), SPACE COLONIES,
ECOTOPIA, CHINATOWN (a melting pot of multi-million, multi-racial and
multi-cultural metropols), FINDHORN (spiritually oriented new
age-communes), DALLAS (a further market-oriented society based on
social darwinism), and GAIA (earth as a self-organised ecosystem based
on reciprocity and interdependence). Combinations of the different
options are also discussed through a multiple scenario approach.
Ove SVIDEN and Britt ANIANSSON's "Surprising futures" presents notes
from a workshop in Stockholm, where about 20 leading researchers from
different continents and disciplines (including Michel Godet) drew up
five global and regional scenarios up to the year 2075.
Four of the scenarios were deliberately given a "surprising" content,
although they need not be more unlikely than the fifth,
"surprise-free" scenario called "Conventional Wisdom". The workshop
was run in 1986 by the Swedish research council FRN and the
International Institute for Applied System Analysis (IIASA) in
We now move from the comparing of probable (more or less desirable)
futures, and to works that focus on the "ideal society".
'Those who rule decide what is reality and what is utopia.' These
words from the feminist German journalist and author Carna Zacharias
(5), make it clear that the futures discussed under this heading are
not necessarily unrealistic or unattainable. In fact, instead of
"Utopias", it might just as well have been called "Visions" or "Images
of the future". The Germans also use the term "Zukunftsgestaltung"
(futures design). But, as the pragmatic Chinese Deng Xiao Ping once
said, the important thing is not whether a cat is black or white, but
whether it catches mice. "Utopia" here means more or less fictional
literature that describes a particular community, desired by the
author. The main theme is the structure of those communities.
So, does this kind of literature catch mice? Has it had any influence
on societal development through the ages? According to the late Dutch
professor Fred POLAK, the answer is yes. In his classic study "The
Image of the Future", he demonstrates that idealistic and inspiring
visions of the past have greatly influenced later developments.
Utopias (and dystopias) are first considered from the history of
Western civilisation. Then the author describes what he sees as a
unique lack of convincing images in our own times. His hope for our
cultural survival was in a new development of both utopias and
dystopias. The book demonstrates the advantages of a most
interdisciplinary background. During his academic career Polak was
active within law, economy, philosophy and sociology. In addition, he
was a central figure in Dutch culture, business and politics.
Probably the most thorough survey of utopian literature is Frank E.
and Fritzie P. MANUEL's "Utopian Thought in the Western World." He, a
Harvard professor of history, and she, an art historian, produced the
book after more than 25 years work on utopian thinking. In
chronological order they identify historical constellations of
utopias, bringing us from the ancient Greeks via Christian utopians
and Thomas More to more modern utopians like Saint-Simon, Karl Marx,
Edward Bellamy, William Morris and Herbert Marcuse.
The authors believe in the revival of utopias, as Western civilisation
may not be able to survive without utopian phantasies any more than
individuals can exist without dreaming. They predict that "Man the
innovator" will come up with the unthought-of, leaving model-builders
and futurological predictors 'holding their bag of forecasts and
facile analogies in embarrassed irrelevance'.
Krishan KUMAR's book "Utopia and Anti-Utopia in Modern Times", focuses
particularly on the ability of utopias to capture the popular
imagination or become the centre of public debate. The bulk of the
material is about English and American literature of the period from
the 1880s to the 1950s. Works of five authors (Edward Bellamy, H. G.
Wells, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell and B. F. Skinner) were selected
for thorough analysis of their roles within the intellectual and
literary tradition of utopias.
The last part considers the decline of utopia and dystopia in the
second half of the 20th century. Special emphasis is put on critical
discussions of socialist ideology, ecology and the relations between
utopia and research. Kumar, a Trinidad-born professor of sociology,
claims that "Futurologists" of the 1960s and 1970s were convinced of
the imminent realisation of their expectations, and thus saw their
task as one of scientific analysis and policy prescription rather than
of utopian picturing.
The success of Niels MEYER et al's "Revolt from the Center" in the
late 1970s showed that new visions could still capture the public
imagination. This book triggered a broad public debate in Scandinavia,
and sold more than 100,000 copies in Denmark alone (a country with
five million inhabitants). It was written by a professor of physics, a
former liberal cabinet member and a famous essayist.
They analyse weaknesses of the existing social system, describe their
utopia of a humane society in ecological balance, and discuss ways and
means of achieving it. An important reform is the introduction of a
guaranteed basic income. Those who want a material standard above that
level have the right to do a certain amount of paid work.
"Visions of Desirable Societies" edited by Eleonora MASINI is a book
where most of the contributors come from the Third World. It is a
collection of different images of the future from different
ideological, philosophical and cultural perspectives. The book
presents the process of thinking within a United Nations University
project of the same name.
The aim was to understand contradictions within and between different
visions, and to find ways in which they may become more compatible in
a diverse world. The book is based on papers presented at two
conferences in Mexico City in 1978/79, arranged by the World Futures
Studies Federation and CEEM (Centro Estudios Economicos y Sociales de
Whereas some authors have asked for more visions in our times, Michael
MARIEN divided the existing ones into two categories. In his classic
article "The Two Visions of Post-Industrial Society" from 1977, he
distinguishes between those who go for a technological, affluent,
service society, and the believers of a decentralised and ecologically
conscious agrarian economy following in the wake of a failed
Marien is the editor of World Future Society's eminent (although most
US-dominated) newsletter on literature, "Future Survey". It is
thought-provoking that he, probably the best expert we have on futures
literature, found 'no evidence that any writer holding either of the
two visions of post-industrial society has any appreciable
understanding of the opposing vision'.
A collection of essays published 15 years after Marien's article,
leaves a quite different impression. Sheila MOORCROFT's "Visions for
the 21st Century" consists of essays from 21 invited international
contributors. The authors deal with where we are and where we might
want to go. Their topics are as varied as the cultures and academic
disciplines they themselves represent.
The type of analysis differs as much as the proposed solutions, but
the text is still coherent. Most approaches are, despite all their
diversity, parts of the same problematique. It is up to each reader,
though, to synthesise and assess which ideas could be parts of the
same solution. Interconnectedness, interdependence and diversity are
key words for this anthology.
THE WORLD PROBLEMATIQUE
Poverty in the midst of plenty, degradation of the environment, loss
of faith in institutions, uncontrolled urban spread, and insecurity of
employment. These are some elements of what The Club Of Rome has
called the "world problematique".
Donella MEADOWS et al's bestseller "The Limits to Growth" from 1972 (9
000 000 copies in 29 languages) was the first report commissioned by
the Club of Rome. Financed by Volkswagen Foundation, an international
research team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
investigated five basic factors which limit growth on this planet:
population, agriculture, resource use, industry and pollution.
Data on these factors were fed into a global model. A conclusion was
that if present growth trends continue, the limits to growth will be
reached sometime within the next hundred years. To alter these
dramatic trends, the report advocated strive to reach a state of
Although "The Limits to Growth" signalled the start of a new era for
the discussion on global environmental issues, this problematique was
in no way new on the scene. Rachel CARSON's "Silent Spring" from 1962
was the first book to make a big global audience question the whole
attitude of industrial society towards nature.
The book starts with a "fable for tomorrow", describing a town in the
heart of America where the voices of spring have disappeared. The few
birds tremble and cannot fly, no bees pollinate the blooming apple
trees, and all the fish has died. No witchcraft, no enemy action
silenced the rebirth of new life in this stricken world. The people
had done it themselves.
"Silent Spring" was much more than a warning from a concerned
biologist about the problems posed by DDT and other "modern"
pesticides. Rachel Carson concluded that mankind was standing at the
crossroads. Her advice was to leave the smooth superhighway of
progress. This, as well as crude attacks by the chemical industry,
made her a symbol of the early environmental movement that culminated
with "The Limits to Growth".
In the wake of the discussion around this controversial first report
from the Club of Rome, a number of alternative world models were drawn
up. HERRERA et al's "Catastrophe or New Society? A Latin American
World Model." was the first one to take an explicit viewpoint of the
Third World, but gave less attention to the environment.
The report proposed measures to satisfy basic needs for food, housing,
health care and education by the year 2000 (except in large parts of
Africa and Southern Asia, where it was not seen as possible before
2050). The study was made by "Fundacion Barriloche", an Argentine
research foundation supported by the UN.
The Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex, England,
became a centre of the critical debate on "The Limits to Growth". SPRU
found little or no basis for the pessimism in the report. In FREEMAN
and JAHODA's "World Futures" from 1978, methods and assumptions from
the debate are used to sketch other possible profiles of world
development in the next 50 years.
Combinations of high or low economic growth and strong or weak
international equality result in four different profiles. Future
supplies of food, energy and non-fuel minerals are discussed in
relation to these profiles. An assessment of possible technical
changes is also made. The main problems found were not physical
limits, but political priorities. The confrontation between the
"Limits" and "Sussex" groups was intense, and at some conferences it
is said to have come closer to physical confrontation than
In the "boom" of world models of the late 1970s, president Carter
ordered a report that was later carefully filed by president Reagan.
"The Global 2000 Report to the President", edited by the physician
Gerald BARNEY, deals with probable changes in the world's population,
natural resources and environment. The relationships between the three
issues are emphasised, since there is no lack of separate studies of
The Global 2000 Report indicates the potential for global problems of
alarming proportions by the year 2000, unless things are changed. It
points out that the then current efforts underway around the world
fell far short of what was needed. The conclusions of the staff's own
studies are reinforced by similar findings from other recent global
studies examined and referred to in the report.
Even more important than Global 2000 was the work in the 1980s of the
UN "World Commission on Environment and Development", headed by
Norway's then prime minister Gro Harlem BRUNDTLAND. Its task was no
less than to re-examine the critical environment and development
problems of the planet and to formulate realistic proposals to solve
them. The Commission's report "Our Common Future" was published in
1987, after four years' work.
"Sustainable development" is the core concept of the report. As with
"Global 2000", the main importance of the report is not in its
innovativeness, but in the official status of its analysis and
proposals. The work of the Brundtland Commission was generally well
received, but the report become highly controversial among
environmentalists for its positive attitude to growth. The commission
envisions "a new era of economic growth", growth that is "forceful and
at the same time socially and environmentally sustainable".
The discussion of the Brundtland report led up to the huge World
Conference on Environment and Development (WCED) in Rio in 1992. Ten
years after, very few environmentalists considered the outcomes of the
Rio process a success. The follow-up of the "Agenda 21" programme of
action and the other decisions taken by the state leaders has been
disappointing to most observers. Many of the critical voices on the
whole Rio process came together in the volume "Global Ecology", edited
by Wolfgang SACHS.
Environmentalists from different parts of the world here examine the
new landscape of conflicts on the international level that emerged
during the Rio conference. Wolfgang Sachs finds that, although
environmental and poverty problems were brought into focus, the action
was handed over to those social forces (governments, agencies and
corporations) that have largely been responsible for the present state
Formerly the knowledge of opposition groups, ecology has after Rio
been wedded to the dominating world-view, where the cure for
environmental ills is called "efficiency revolution" or "global
management". What is to be managed are those things that are valuable
to the global economy - from germplasm for biotechnology to pollution
sinks and other commodities that can be traded. This can be at odds
with how people traditionally care for their own environment locally.
Although many of the contributors are rather dogmatic in their
approach, the book raises important objections to the process and
outcomes of the Rio meeting. As well as to the ritually repeated
messages from politicians, industrialists and scientists, denying the
existence of alternatives to the direction the world's economies are
The Rio conference (also known as the Earth Summit) was held 20 years
after the first UN conference on environment (in Stockholm). But 1992
was also the 20th anniversary of "The Limits to Growth". Donella
MEADOWS et al thus wrote a sequel using the same computer model as in
their first book.
13 scenarios for the period between 1990 and 2100 are sketched. In the
authors preferred scenario the population levels out at just under
eight billion people, family size is limited to two children and the
material standard of living is roughly that of present-day Europe.
"Beyond the Limits" has been far less controversial than "The Limits
to Growth". Although the sequel was much better received, it has not
attracted the same large readership as the first book.
The perspective of change has been more or less involved in the
categories already presented. But, although one should expect
especially authors dealing with desirable futures to accentuate
processes of change, this is not very often the case. Some exceptions
will be presented here, but first we should again stress that not all
futurists focus on the need for major change.
Rajni KOTHARI's "Footsteps Into the Future" from 1974 deals with how
to make a "minimal utopia" feasible. The basic issue is how to move
from a world in which there is a growing "divorce" between scientific,
technological progress and the freedom and wellbeing of human beings,
to one in which the two are harmonised. Justice, self-realisation,
creativity and non-violence are important elements.
The author does not believe in fully worked-out models, and therefore
warns against 'catastrophic reversals of existing arrangements that
may or may not produce the desired results'. Kothari's strategy is
that of "ever widening circles"; stepwise attempts at a number of
levels. The intellectual task is simultaneously to stimulate new
attitudes and major institutional changes. The book belongs to a
series of volumes entitled "Preferred Worlds for the 1990s", initiated
by the transnational World Order Models Project. Kothari is Director
of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in Delhi and
founder of the international journal Alternatives.
In "Envisioning a Sustainable Society. Learning Our Way Out", Lester
MILBRATH claims that modern society cannot lead to sustainable
development. After elaborating a vision of a sustainable society, he
discusses the transition from modern society to a sustainable society.
Milbrath, a US professor of political science and sociology, does not
believe that elite change can be very thorough, because true social
change must affect the everyday behaviour of the people. He sees
social learning as the most viable route to social change.
Milbrath is, however, not a believer in change here and now. Things
must get worse before they can get better. His prescription is to
prepare for the moment when things get 'bad enough to force us to cast
about'. Then we can make changes that would be beyond the realm of
possibility in "normal times".
Is today's realm of possibilities as narrow as Milbrath and other
patient revolutionaries (6) think? Less than a year before becoming
the US Vice-President, Al GORE published his book "Earth in the
Balance". A conclusion of his analysis is that we must make rescuing
our global environment the central organising principle of our
civilisation. He proposes a new global Marshall Plan, consisting of
five strategic goals. These are stabilising world population,
developing and sharing appropriate technology, a new global
"eco-nomics", a new generation of treaties and agreements, and
education for a new global environmental consensus.
Gore is an example of important elements within the Establishment, who
want to bridge the gaps between the dominating worldview and policy,
and current ecological knowledge. From his point of view, the key will
be a new public awareness of how serious is the threat to the global
environment. There will be no meaningful change until enough citizens
are willing to speak out and urge their leaders to bring the earth
back to balance. The book was re-issued in 2000, including a new
foreward from a much more experienced Gore who still believes in the
The GROUP OF LISBON's "Limits to Competition" from 1993 shows that
Gore is not a loner within the establishment. The group consists of 19
prominent professors, bureaucrats, cultural workers and industrialists
from Western Europe, North America and Japan. They are concerned about
the role competition plays in the process of economic and social
globalisation. Instead of praising competitiveness, they call for
co-decisions in the form of "global social contracts". All the
contributors conclude that the benefits of "going together" are
greater than the inconveniences.
If we are to move towards this kind of contracts, the initiative has
to come from the three dominant global powers; Western Europe, North
America and Japan. The target is a global society that will satisfy
the basic needs of the eight billion people inhabiting the planet by
the year 2020. Common endeavours will be the key, and this makes
global civil society a powerful force. The report stresses the
importance of systematically recognising and supporting local actions,
behaviour and experiments at the global level.
The demand for a "new economics" or a "green economics" is common to
both oppositional green movements and some more established thinkers.
Paul EKINS' "Wealth Beyond Measure" from 1992 is a highly illustrated
guide that presents the state of the art in laypersons' terms.
Contrary to the view of mainstream economists and politicians, the new
economics movement puts forward the idea that recovery from recession
must accord with the imperatives of sustainable development.
Participatory democracy and economic justice are other important
objectives for this movement.
Ekins analyses the effects of ongoing changes and discusses political
consequences when it comes to the use of ecological, human,
organisational and manufactured resources. He is a co-founder of the
New Economics Foundation in London, and of TOES (The Other Economic
Summit), which has accompanied the G-7 summits since 1984.
The British-American futurist Hazel HENDERSON believes that a great
transition of industrial societies in the direction of a sustainable,
renewable resources based productivity is inevitable. Her book
"Paradigms in Progress" deals with the nature of this transition.
According to Henderson, a paradigm is a pair of different spectacles
that can reveal a new view of reality allowing us to reconceive our
situation, reframe old problems and find new pathways for evolutionary
change. The book summarises her own paradigms in progress, offering
new directions, expanded contexts, connections and possibilities for
creating "win-win" solutions.
She sees the ongoing transition towards sustainability as
multidimensional and nonlinear, and it cannot be mapped in simple
economic terms. New interdisciplinary models from biology and chaos
theory (rather than mechanistic models) are needed to capture these
kinds of accelerating, interactive changes. Hazel Henderson is a
lecturer, consultant, writer and activist working within a broad,
Erik DAMMANN created the popular Norwegian "Future in Our Hands"
movement, focusing on social equity and a simpler way of life. His
book "Revolution in the Affluent Society" discusses the need for a
change of system in the rich world. He argues why it should be
nonviolent, nondogmatic and come from below the antithesis of what one
is struggling to overcome.
He also addresses the role of futures studies, wanting them to be
linked more directly to people's wishes and expectations. Surveys
could be used to arouse an interest in crucial choices about values
and social problems amongst people who otherwise feel that political
debate goes over their heads. Reports should be handed over to writers
with the literacy skill to convey their basic ideas in popular books
and the mass media. They should stress the main initial consequences
that alternative courses of development will have for various groups.
His main point is the idea of research not as a means of control, but
as a means by which the public can consider and actively participate
in the formation and development of their own futures. Dammann later
became a co-founder of the Alternative Future Project in Norway.
Robert JUNGK and Norbert MÜLLERT's "Futures workshops" presents
another method by which ordinary people can be involved in creating
possible and desirable futures. Criticism, phantasy and realisation
are the main elements in a process where concrete utopias and social
inventions are drawn up. Examples illustrate how participants have
changed during the process. Futures workshops can thus be an effective
instrument against what Jungk used to call the "ghost" haunting
today's world; the ghost of resignation.
The book also demonstrates what kinds of ideas and practical results
that can be achieved through this method, which has been especially
popular in Germany and Denmark. The idea of participatory futures
studies involving both academic and less academic circles is not just
a theory. It can be put into practise. Robert Jungk, who died in 1994,
has probably demonstrated this better than anyone else, not at least
through his futures workshops. Such approaches are essential for
futures studies if they are to democratise, not colonise, the future.
In conclusion, it is worth quoting the words of the late Nobel Prize
winner in physics, Dennis Gabor: He wrote that 'the future cannot be
predicted, but it can be invented'(7). Since the future belongs to all
of us, we all have the right to participate in shaping it. The
literature surveyed here clearly provides numerous starting points for
doing just that.
Kjell Dahle is a political scientist and a World Futures Studies
Federation fellow, based in Oslo, Norway. He is co-founder of the
Ideas Bank Foundation and former head of planning of the Alternative
Future Project. He has also been secretary general of the Centre Party
of Norway and chief editor of Senterpressens Osloredaksjon.
This survey is under revision; some important works from the last few
years are still missing. Updated and expanded versions with new
literature surveys will be available at www.idebanken.no. A revised
text will later be part of the next edition of the Knowledge Base of
Futures Studies (see footnote 1). Comments, proposals and material can
be sent to Kjell Dahle, Stiftelsen Idebanken, Boks 2126 Grünerløkka,
N-0505 Oslo, Norway. Or E-mail Kjell Dahle.
(1) -Richard A. Slaughter (ed.): New Thinking for a New Millennium.
London/New York, Routledge 1995, pp 84-102. -Richard A. Slaughter
(ed.): The Knowledge Base of Futures Studies. Victoria (Australia),
DDM Media Group 1996, Volume 1, pp 126-47. A Millennium Edition of the
four volumes Knowledge Base is available on CD-Rom from
(2) Kjell Dahle: On Alternative Ways of Studying the Future.
International institutions, an annotated bibliography and a Norwegian
case. Oslo, Alternative Future Project, 1991, p. 16.
(3) Robert Jungk was also the founder of the International Futures
Library, Imbergstrasse 2, 5020 Salzburg, Austria. I have made several
visits to this fabulous library, which has been a main resource for my
studies of the futures literature.
(4) Michel Godet: Introduction to La Prospective. Seven Key Ideas and
One Scenario Method. Futures No 2 1986, pp. 134-57.
(5) Carna Zacharias: Wo liegt Utopia? Nur wer träumt, ist Realist.
Munich, Schönberger, 1985.
(6) In Forsøk for forandring? Alternative veier til et bærekraftig
samfunn, Oslo, Spartacus 1997 (English short version Toward Governance
for Future Generations. How do we change course? Futures No. 4 1998,
pp 277-92), I have discussed five alternative strategies for a
transition to a sustainable society. These are the Reformists (such as
Gore), the Impatient Revolutionaries (such as Robert Heilbroner), the
Patient Revolutionaries (such as Milbrath), the Grassroot Fighters
(such as Murray Bookchin) and the Multifaceted Radicals (such as
(7) Dennis Gabor: Inventing the Future. London, Secker and Warburg,
1963/New York, Knopf, 1964.
THE 60 KEY WORKS
* Barney, Gerald O. (ed.): The Global 2000 Report to the President.
Entering the 21st Century. A Report Prepared by the Council on
Environmental Quality and the Department of State. Harmondsworth,
Penguin, 1982. 766 p. (First published 1980.)
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