Slide 10 of 42
One of the challenges of pursuing futures research in an academic environment is the lack of data. When data are available – whether data on change, or on people’s attitudes and values regarding change – a credible futures report will clearly track where change and value data originate, and how they are processed through various forecasting and futures tools.
Environmental scanning: the process of monitoring reality for trends of change and emerging issues of change; an ongoing, broad-based research process which skims various media for indications of change in all the ”STEEP” (Social, Technological, Environmental, Economic, and Political) sectors.
Futures wheels (of which an example exercise sheet is offered in the pages that follow): a tool to brainstorm and map primary, secondary, tertiary, etc. impacts of potential changes. Cross-impact matrices allow the systematic comparison of the impacts of multiple changes, one upon the other. Does the increased extinction of marine species increase or decrease the likelihood of global warming? Conversely, does global warming increase or decrease the likelihood of increased extinction of marine species? Several trends may be evaluated against each other in this fashion using a table format.
Scenarios: images of alternative possible futures, created by combining the extrapolation of current trends and emerging issues of change with their potential impacts, designed to help people explore both the possible opportunities and challenges they may face in the future. Any given scenario should, like reality, contain both positive and negative characteristics.
Visions: images of preferred futures, articulated to express a group’s jointly held values, hopes, desires, and goals – as statements of preferred future outcomes, they should be both wholly positive and idealistic.