Mack Report: Adventures in the Future
After exploring the future for more than five decades, Tim Mack, managing principal of AAI Foresight and past president of the World Future Society, answers some of the questions he is most frequently asked: How did you begin studying foresight? What is useful to a practitioner of future studies? and What have you learned from it?
“The field of foresight seemed to be a match to my own eclectic background and range of interests,” Mack writes in his latest Foresight Report. “Prior to my law degree, I had been a welder, a grain elevator worker, a tour guide for the Seattle Underground, a fry cook, a carpenter, a bus-line ticket agent, and a floor manager at a design center. And that was before graduating from college.”
The opportunity to make connections—of people and of subject matter—led Mack to volunteer for the first WFS general assembly in 1970. These connections also led him to work with a variety of forward-looking entities, such as the U.S. General Accounting Office (now the Government Accountability Office), MIT Enterprise Forum, Congressional Research Service, and the US Association for the Club of Rome.
Taking the reins in 2004 as only the second president of WFS, Mack extended these connections even further, working with such entities as Turkish National Television, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and a range of government and academic institutions in South Korea, Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay, and Jamaica.
Mack concludes that “the chance to meet like-minded colleagues and travel were invaluable, and I would not have missed that for the world.”
Read “Adventures in the Future” by Tim Mack, AAI Foresight Inc., Foresight Report (Fall 2022). Download PDF
A Futurist Goes to Washington
As an environmental futurist working with the Research and Development branch of the U.S. Forest Service, David N. Bengston has been called to Washington often to consult with his agency and give seminars. This year, he was also invited to give a congressional briefing for staffers who report to their bosses, members of Congress.
The topic on which he was invited to speak was horizon scanning, “a core tool in futures research,” he notes in his reflections on that day. “But most horizon scanning is carried out by practitioners in other fields and disciplines. … Given all the outstanding horizon scanning done by non-futurists, I felt fortunate to be included as the lone futurist.”
The congressional staffers in his audience were engaged and asked good questions, Bengston reports. “I came away with a greater appreciation of what goes into science policy at the national level, a deeper respect for the highly competent professionals who work on Capitol Hill, and a renewed belief in the value of foresight to inform planning and policy making.”
Read “Mr. Bengston Goes to Washington: A Futurist Gives a Congressional Briefing” by David N. Bengston, Foresight Signals blog (posted October 19, 2022).
Last Chance: Call for Annual Reports!
Foresight Signals invites summaries of your 2022 futures work (groups and individuals) to publish in December, in our final issue. The deadline is November 30.
Reports should be about 200 words or fewer, noting projects, publications, initiatives, awards, career transitions, etc. You may also note any plans you have for 2023 and beyond. For guidance, check out the 2021 summaries here. Contact Cindy at CynthiaGWagner@gmail.com.
New Collaborations Formed in Dubai
During the Dubai Future Forum in October, the Association of Professional Futurists and The Millennium Project signed a five-year agreement to collaborate with the Dubai Future Foundation (DFF) to found a new Global Future Society.
The proposed organization, to be headquartered at the Museum of the Future in Dubai, would aim to help to fill the former role of the World Future Society, according to Jerome C. Glenn, CEO of The Millennium Project.
Also during the Forum, DFF signed a Memorandum of Understanding with World Futures Studies Federation and Public Sector Foresight Network “to define pathways for future collaboration, joint research and knowledge-sharing opportunities.”
Read “Dubai Future Forum concludes, setting pathway for a promising future” (press release, October 12, 2022).
News from the Futurist Community
- Call for chapters: Editors of the second volume of Futures Thinking and Organizational Policy seek chapters offering “Case studies for Managing Rapid Change in Social Media, a Shift in Wealth, and Government Instability.” Authors should submit a one- to two-page proposal to both editors by December 3; final chapters (5,000-6,000 words) will be due February 6, 2023. For more information, contact Deborah A. Schreiber at email@example.com and Zane L. Berge at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- New initiative: Futurist Gerd Leonhard, with the support of the Futures Agency, has launched The Good Futures Project, “a non-profit global network of people that want to make ‘The Good Future’ a reality.” The project recently has highlighted the work of such thought leaders as Cory Doctorow, David Houle, Bill Halal, and Puruesh Chaudary. [Learn more]
- Awards: The School of International Futures has named its 2022 Next Generation Futures Practioners awardees, led by Melissa Ingaruca from Peru. Her project to create “a summer school for people to go through a foresight journey in order to envision and create multispecies cities futures” earned the NGFP’s Joseph Jaworski Main Award of $10,000. [Learn more]
New Publications and Resources
- Beyond Identities: Human Becomings in Weirding Worlds by James Dator, Springer Nature, Anticipation Series, 2022. Futures studies and political science scholar Dator explores the meaning and consequences of identities—those we choose for ourselves and those assigned to us by others, proclaiming not just who we are, but also who we are not. This view of identity is based on the past (where we came from) rather than the future (where we are going). As Buckminster Fuller suggested, rather than human beings we might better think of ourselves as human becomings. [Learn more]
- Forthcoming: The second edition of The Future of Humanity: From Global Civilization to Great Civilization by Zhouying Jin will be published November 18 by Intellect Books. In addition to material added to each chapter, specifically focusing on the impacts of Covid-19, the new edition features prefaces by futurists Ted Gordon, Hazel Henderson, and Randeep Sudan. [Learn more]
- Forthcoming: Foresight strategist Roger Spitz of the Disruptive Futures Institute is releasing the four-volume series The Definitive Guide to Thriving on Disruption beginning with Volume 1 on November 29 and successively through February. Spitz describes the series as “a field guide for businesses and individuals alike to navigate change; a compass; a system of content, resources, and ideas on how to stay relevant in our complex and unpredictable world.” [Learn more]
- New audio edition: Personal Futures principal Verne Wheelwright has released an audio version of his book It’s YOUR Future: Make It a Good One. Because the original book contains numerous tables and diagrams, Wheelwright has also created a supplemental ebook, available free at his website. [Audio book available at Amazon.com]
Mark Your Calendar
January 5-8, Las Vegas: Consumer Electronics Show (CES)
January 23-26, New Orleans: The Future of Education Technology Conference
February 23-24, Colombo, Sri Lanka: International Conference on the Future of Women 2023
March 1, everywhere: Future Day (check your favorite futures networks).
March 10-19, Austin: South by Southwest (SXSW)
May 2-4, New York City: The Future of Everything Festival (sponsored by Wall Street Journal)
June 6-7, Chicago: Future of Work USA
June 14-16, Turku, Finland (online): Empowering Futures (Finland Futures Research Center)
Jun 25-28, Charlottesville, Virginia: International Symposium on Forecasting (International Institute of Forecasters)
July 6-7, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Future of Education 2023
October 15-22, Sydney, Australia: SXSW Sydney
November 27-28, Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Dubai Future Forum
September 22-23, New York City: UN Summit of the Future
And when you least expect, your child begins to climb.
Every choice becomes a cliff, your warnings and advice, a rope,
ready to rescue a precious future. Finally you recognize:
Youth will cling to prospects; you, to hope.
C. G. Wagner, Stories My Words Tell (private printing), 2022