Friday, July 31, 2020

Knowledge Base of Futures Studies

Just published this month is The Knowledge Base of Futures Studies 2020, the latest in an edited series collecting key works in foresight over time.

The original version of KBFS was released in 01996, the same year I first encountered the futures/foresight field; the most recent update came out in 02005, the year I went to study with Jim Dator at the University of Hawaii's 'Manoa School' of futures. So it's been a long while, and a huge amount has changed in the field over that period.

I'm excited to have two pieces in this collection, both coauthored with terrific colleagues –– Kelly Kornet and Peter Hayward. Both articles are adaptations of work previously published, and speak to aspects of how the field has evolved over the past decade and a half towards more participatory, playful, experiential and inclusive modes.

The Polak Game (aka "Where Do You Stand?"), written with Peter, is about a classic workshop and classroom game in the futures field, which Hayward invented, inspired by the remarkable work of Dutch sociologist and proto-futurist Fred Polak. The game offers a user-friendly structure for facilitating far-reaching conversation among foresight students and clients, introducing "images of the future" as a basic property of both cultures and individuals, thus helping pave the way to more advanced tools and frameworks. It first appeared in 02017 as a peer-reviewed article in the Journal of Futures Studies (JFS).

Ethnographic Experiential Futures (EXF), written with Kelly, introduces a framework for hybrid design/futures research and practice that is all about making images of the future more legible and concrete, and seeing what one can learn from doing so. The piece sets out a practical structure and set of prompts for devising projects and interventions, with a view to promoting the availability of a more diverse and deeper array of scenarios for consideration, in all sorts of contexts, ultimately in service of developing a social capacity for foresight. It first appeared in 02019 as a peer-reviewed article, Turning Foresight Inside Out, in the JFS special double issue on Design and Futures co-edited with Cher Potter.

Fifteen years is a long time, and to be fair not all of the changes that the futures/foresight field has seen are (or could be) reflected in a selection which, as this version's co-editor Andy Hines points out, was subject to real constraints. But there are over 500 pages of material from contributors around the world, and I'm looking forward to digging in! Meanwhile the next edition, we might hope, will appear sooner rather than later, and will also seize the opportunity to push even further in surfacing the tremendous diversity of views and approaches to futures research, scholarship and practice from all corners of a burgeoning and multifaceted global conversation.

Well done to the three dozen contributing authors, and to editors Richard Slaughter and Andy Hines, for this valuable contribution! While previous editions were sometimes hard to find, this new collection is electronically available directly from the publisher, the Association of Professional Futurists.

> Ethnographic Experiential Futures / full-text pdf from KBFS 2020
> The Polak Game / full-text pdf from KBFS 2020
> Design and Futures book release / full-text pdf
> Transforming the Future book release / full-text pdf
> Ghosts of futures past
> A History of Experiential Futures