Design and Futures Studies are our bread and butter.

WHAT’S WHAT of Futures Studies:

Futures Studies

The scientific study of images of the future

The future is difficult to “examine”, because it does not yet exist. Futures Studies, therefore, rather works with “present futures”, i.e. a myriad of ideas and visions for the future that exist in the present. Starting from the assumption that the future is open and can be shaped, futures scientists make various possible, probable and desirable futures visible, illuminate them critically, and ultimately provide orientation and knowledge for creating a desired future.

Futures

Future exists in the plural

As futures scientists, we usually speak of futures in the plural. This is because we work on the basic assumption that the future is wide open and, therefore, we have a multitude of possible, probable and desirable futures to choose from.

Images of the future

Our ideas about the future

Images of the future refer to the ideas we have about the future today. They can exist unconsciously in people’s minds, but they can also be made explicit and visible. Images of the future can reflect fears, as well as hopes, desires and needs. Visions exist as representations of possible, probable or even desirable futures. Their form is manifold: futures can exist as linguistically formulated texts, but also in visualized form (for example, as a comic, video or even theatre performance).

Utopia

The imagined world of wishes

Utopia is an imagined desirable place or entire world which is fed by present hopes, wishes, criticism, expectations, fears and assumptions. Most often, utopia refers to a place that can never be reached – only a “concrete” utopia describes a world that is realizable.

Uncertainty

Future scenarios create orientation knowledge

An important goal of Futures Studies is to navigate uncertainty. Even if the future is uncertain – particularly the distant future – it can be helpful to discuss the probable, possible, and desirable futures. To this purpose, futures scientists do not only analyze existing images of the future, but also work on the development of alternative future scenarios.

Wild card

Radical breaks with future forecasts

A wild card is an unexpected or even “impossible” event that radically changes the expected course of events. Wild Cards alter developments, accelerate or redirect trends, and generally act as catalysts.

Futures Literacy

Future as ability

Futures Literacy describes the ability to understand, contextualize, and navigate futures. Just as we learn to read, we can learn to consciously anticipate and even harness uncertainty.

Futures Thinking

Understanding the plurality of futures

Whereas Futures Literacy describes a skill, Futures Thinking can be both a method and a way of thinking. Starting with the idea that there is no such thing as “the” future, we orient ourselves to a variety of probable, possible or desirable futures. In this way, we learn to think critically about change or even develop alternative futures to the status quo.