Post-Covid Scenarios for Cities, Unshocking the Present, Remembering Marv Cetron, and more

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Volume 6,
Number 10
September 30, 2020

Urbanization’s Post-Pandemic Scenarios

The world has been urbanizing for over 300 years, but has COVID-19 stopped that trend? In an exclusive excerpt from his forthcoming book, Foresight Investing: A Complete Guide to Finding Your Next Great Trade, futurist and certified financial planner Jim Lee describes four scenarios for how cities may fare in the post-pandemic future:

  • The Urban Environment (Growth). After the pandemic, people quickly return to the cities, and it is mostly business as usual. Outdoor dining is increasingly popular. Cities appear healthier and better landscaped.
  • The Restrained City (Discipline). City life continues, but it lacks the vibrancy of the past. ... Many new regulations are in place, making it harder to do business.
  • The Vibrant City (Transformation). With a vaccine for COVID-19 and other new treatments, cities are a remarkably clean, fun, and efficient place to live.
  • The War Zone (Collapse). The pandemic has given way to high unemployment and social tension. ... The tax base has fled to the suburbs and smaller towns.

Which scenario will happen? Perhaps some of each. “Scenarios can help identify which future is being experienced and enable people to think about the best ways of investing for a quickly changing world,” Lee says.

Read:Urbanization: Post-Pandemic Scenarios” by James H. Lee, AAI Foresight Signals Blog (September 11, 2020).

News from the Field

  • The Association of Professional Futurists is launching a Task Force on Foresight Evaluation, to be led by Annette L. Gardner, principal at ALGardner Consulting. “We are thrilled to have Dr. Gardner head up this new initiative as evaluation of excellence of foresight work is central to our mission to empower those who ‘work the future,’” says APF Chair Jay Gary. The task force will comprise six team members selected from APF’s 500 members and will begin meeting in November to “set outcomes and indicators of program improvement and collect evaluation resources that can support APF’s 2016 Foresight Competency Model and its 2020 Knowledge Base of Futures Studies,” according to APF. [Learn more]
  • The Millennium Project has released drafts for comment of three COVID-19 scenarios it is preparing for the American Red Cross. Scenario 1: America Endures, Scenario 2: Hubris and Apathy, and Scenario 3: Things Went Right! Though the scenarios focus on the United States, TMP may also work next on global scenarios, suggests co-founder and CEO Jerome C. Glenn. [Learn more] Ed. note (October 20, 2020): The comment period for the scenario drafts has ended, and the final report is now available at
  • Australian “conversation” agency Versa has hired Tomas-William Haffenden as its first futurist. Versa specializes in facilitating conversations between its client companies and their customers. Haffenden will host the agency’s Future Conversations podcast. [Learn more]
  • Jhonattan Marcelo Farfan is chief executive officer of Future Innovation Corp., which he has co-founded in Lima, Peru. Farfan, a member of the Association of Professional Futurists and World Futures Studies Federation, “has more than ten years of experience working as a specialist, coordinator and advisor for planning, policies, foresight, technological surveillance and innovation in public and private organizations,” according to the firm’s website. Future Innovation Corp. provides knowledge and technology services “based on a perspective of long-term analysis and understanding of the complexity of the issues.” [Learn more]
  • Futurist consultant Garry Golden, along with a network of creative professionals, has launched Into the Future, a new community learning space in Brooklyn that will develop classes and programs to help people anticipate and lead change. Focusing initially on high-school students, the program currently offers classes on creative careers, AI computer vision, entrepreneurship, a Friday Night Futurists club, and more. [Learn more]

Mark Your Calendar: Regenerating Asia 2050

November 19-21 (virtual): The Asia Pacific Futures Network, hosted by the Philippines Futures Thinking Society, will hold a three-day virtual conference, Regenerating Asia 2050, to address “using futures literacy to transform governance, culture, and the economy.”

According to organizers, “This is the first-ever Asia Pacific Futures Network Virtual Conference. We are expecting to draw the biggest audience of futurists, foresight practitioners, and non-futurists thinkers and doers sharing knowledge, experiences, provocations, capabilities, innovations, questions, and insights to transform governance, arts, culture, designs, systems, leadership, and economy in the Asia Pacific.” [Learn more or register]

Resources, Publications, and Webinars

  • UNESCO has created an interactive map showing more than 80 Futures Literacy Laboratories held around the world since 2012, as well as the current and upcoming UNESCO Chairs in Futures Literacy and Futures Studies. UNESCO defines futures literacy as a competency that reduces fear and “provides individuals, organisations and governments access to better understand the world, and to act in accordance with our values through the consideration of the richness of experimentation, innovation and creativity that surrounds us.” [Learn more]
  • The latest issue of Human Futures, published by World Futures Studies Federation, is now available online. Among the features is a summary of World Future Day 2020 activities, reported by Mara Di Berardo, co-chair of The Millennium Project’s Italian node. The impacts and potential implications of the COVID-19 pandemic are prominently featured in the issue, with reflections by Patricia Lustig and Gill Ringland on foresight and by Tom Lombardo, director of the Center for Future Consciousness, on wisdom in this age of “coronapocalypse.” [Read online]
  • Tom Lombardo has launched a webinar series, conducted via Zoom, on the Evolution of Science Fiction. Using colorful slide presentations and dialogue, the series will examine the evolutionary history of science fiction from its ancient mythological origins to contemporary modes such as steampunk, cyberpunk, and “the new weird.” The next module, “Mythology, Fantasy, and Science Fiction,” will be on October 10. [View series introduction video or register for Oct. 10 module]
  • The Gordon Report newsletter has converted to a webinar format, announced publisher Edward Gordon, president of Imperial Consulting Corporation. Gordon and webinar host Ira Wolfe, a human resources and assessment expert, “will use this forum to discuss current issues in employment, economic growth, and skill development for jobs and careers.” [Learn more]
  • Marketing and communications futurist Peter Eder has prepared a talk on “Tensions between Active Aging and Risk-Group Definitions” for the 2020 virtual version of the Tenth Interdisciplinary Conference on Aging and Social Change. The talk draws on his experiences with the senior community services organization At Home In Darien in Connecticut. “The pandemic has certainly sharpened the tensions and increased the need to relieve them,” Eder says. [View the video]

Game Theorist Unshocks the Present

Many news seekers may increasingly supplement—or supplant—mainstream media news with social media sources. We have been following game theorist, intelligence analyst, and longtime futurist Eric Garland for some time, and his insightful commentary on current (and emerging) events has helped us feel less shocked by certain investigations and revelations. He now has a new podcast, Game Theory Today, offering “uncompromising news, national security, and humor.”

Garland worked as a trend analyst with the legendary Joseph F. Coates and contributed articles to The Futurist magazine on subjects ranging from music and language to sex and luxury brands. His Twitter profile reads: “Intelligence analyst and advisor to CEOs and governments. I break down global events into clear narratives and appropriate profanity.” [Visit @ericgarland on Twitter]

Remembering Marv Cetron

Strategic forecaster, consultant, and author Marvin J. Cetron died August 17, 2020, at his home in Fairfax, Virginia. He was 90.

Cetron served on the World Future Society’s board of directors and Global Advisory Council, spoke at numerous conferences, and generously contributed his insights to its publications.

As a professional forecaster for more than 60 years, Cetron was a big-picture thinker who could focus on specific trends and their potential implications, offering recommendations on issues ranging from terrorism to tourism, education to life extension. Notably, Cetron led work for a prescient 1994 study on the future of terrorism and in 1997 foresaw the convergence of the growing number of digital appliances in our pockets—computers, phones, cameras, and calculators.

Cetron was preceded in death by his wife, Gloria, a teacher who inspired much of his work on the future of education and schools in the United States. Their grandson, Justin, graced the cover of The Futurist in 1988 for a feature on “The Class of 2000.” [Read more]

In Memoriam

  • John Kettle, 91, died May 15, 2020, in Toronto. Kettle was the publisher of FutureLetter (1982−1995), a newsletter to help organizations anticipate change, and author of The Big Generation (1980), about the future of the baby boomers. [Read more]
  • Felicia Campbell, 89, died July 27, 2020, in Las Vegas. She was the longest-serving professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where she studied topics ranging from science fiction to the psychology of gambling. Her April 1976 Futurist article, “The Future of Gambling,” was reprinted by PBS. [Read more]

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Signal Thoughts

“Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations