ArticlePDF Available

Futures Literacy - Embracing Complexity and Using the Future

Authors:
  • Ecole des Ponts Business School; University of New Brunswick; University of Stavanger

Abstract and Figures

The world is not more complicated or complex today than yesterday; when it comes to seeing and acting in any specific situation it is capacity that makes the difference, not the absolute number of permutations or even unfamiliarity. What seems complicated to a child may seem like child's play to an adult. In particular, what matters is the sophistication of our sense-making: our ability to discover, invent and construct the world around us. To date, considerable effort has been made to improve sense-making capabilities. Policymakers call on familiar and intuitive methods of everyday experience (preparation and planning), as well as techniques (such as forecasting, horizon scanning, scenarios, expert opinions) considered adequate based on past perceptions of our needs and capacities. Nevertheless, the perceived proliferation of so-called " wicked problems " in recent times has added to a mounting sense of uncertainty, and called into question both the decision-making value of these business-as-usual approaches as well as their sufficiency in accounting for complexity in practice. Recent advances in understanding complexity, uncertainty and emergence have opened up new ways of defining and using the future. The question is therefore not how to cope with a universe that seems to be getting more complex, but how to improve our ability to take advantage of the novel emergence that has always surrounded us.
Content may be subject to copyright.
23
WHAT IS THE CHALLENGE?
GETTING THE QUESTION RIGHT
The world is not more complicated or
complex today than yesterday; when
it comes to seeing and acting in any
specific situation it is capacity that
makes the difference, not the absolute
number of permutations or even
unfamiliarity. What seems complicated
to a child may seem like child’s play to an
adult. In particular, what matters is the
sophistication of our sense-making: our
ability to discover, invent and construct
the world around us.
To date, considerable effort has
been made to improve sense-making
capabilities. Policymakers call on
familiar and intuitive methods of
everyday experience (preparation and
planning), as well as techniques (such
as forecasting, horizon scanning,
scenarios, expert opinions) considered
adequate based on past perceptions of
our needs and capacities. Nevertheless,
the perceived proliferation of so-called
“wicked problems” in recent times
has added to a mounting sense of
uncertainty, and called into question
both the decision-making value of these
business-as-usual approaches as well
as their sufficiency in accounting for
complexity in practice.
Recent advances in understanding
complexity, uncertainty and emergence
have opened up new ways of defining
and using the future. The question is
therefore not how to cope with a universe
that seems to be getting more complex,
but how to improve our ability to take
advantage of the novel emergence that
has always surrounded us.1 We need to
bring our capacity to use the future into
alignment with both our perceptions of
the complex, emergent reality around
us, and our aspirations.
Futures Literacy — Embracing Complexity and Using the Future | Riel Miller
Riel Miller
Futures Literacy —
Embracing Complexity and
Using the Future
If policymakers want to address complexity, they must define and
then use the future more effectively, argues futurist Riel Miller.
Opinion
ETHOS | Issue 10 | OCTOBER 2011
24
ANTICIPATORY SYSTEMS AND THE
THREE DIMENSIONS OF THE FUTURE IN
THE PRESENT2
In practical terms, embracing complexity
means, at a minimum,3 thinking about
the future in terms of anticipatory
systems, and being able to distinguish
three types of future. It is failure to
do so appropriately that more often
than not muddles the sense-making
processes supporting policy formation
and implementation.
Since we live in an anticipatory
universe,4 characterised by time and
motion, it is not surprising that many
phenomena and organisations exhibit
or contain anticipatory systems. Thus
trees lose their leaves in anticipation
of winter and humans plant crops in
anticipation of hunger. Understanding
the future from an anticipatory
systems perspective takes into account
animate and inanimate, conscious
and unconscious mechanisms for
integrating the non-existent future into
the present.
Once the diversity of these “futures
in the present” can be uncovered, the
next step is to distinguish the three
dimensions of such futures.
Contingency
Contingency futures are phenomena
expressed within a system that emerge
due to the intervention of an extra-
systemic event. One can prepare for
or pre-empt a contingency future,
but when it happens, it arises from
an exogenous force. This potential
of the present rests on the threats or
opportunities posed by external forces.
Threats can take the form of predators or
disasters such as tsunamis, earthquakes,
pandemics or other wildcard events.
Contingency futures can also be positive
such as winning the lottery or having
resources beneath desert sands suddenly
become valuable.
Contingency futures can be
imagined and even calculated
probabilistically. Although statistics
and odds are just informed guesses and
“black swans” can pop up at any time,
human beings have become fairly good
at preparing for contingent futures.
We use simulation and rehearsals
(emergency drills) to generate adaptive
capacities (open minds, transparency,
good communications) that allow us
to react to contingency futures that
emerge from outside forces.
Optimisation
Optimisation futures are things we
believe can be “caused” to happen in
the future through premeditation and
planning, generally in circumstances
where the rules and resources are
assumed to be xed. The idea is to
impose our will on the future
Futures Literacy — Embracing Complexity and Using the Future | Riel Miller
ETHOS | Issue 10 | OCTOBER 2011
25
imagining, if “all goes well”, that we can
“colonise” tomorrow so that it conforms
to our desires and expectations. Here,
the potential of the present is like
a chess game, with many possible
permutations and alternative paths,
but the ends, means and rules of play
are given. Farmers plant seeds with the
expectation of a future crop, knowing
full well that many factors can intervene
in the meantime: from locusts and war
to good weather and enough “hands” to
bring in the harvest.
As with contingency futures, humans
have become pretty good at managing
optimisation futures. Even when efforts
to shape the future may only be partially
successful, we have generally offered the
rationale that the end (e.g. having food to
eat later in the year) justifies the means
(imposing a plan).
Exploration-Discovery
However, the potential of the
present goes beyond contingency and
optimisation futures. A top-notch plan
to improve the product line and beat the
competition may be rendered entirely
obsolete as novelty emerges. Toyota may
beat GM because the way it plans its
production of cars is better than that of
GM, but the decline of the automotive
era can leave both high and dry. Of
course, emergence- driven systemic
transformation need not be fatal, but
the question is how to perceive it and
use it. The first step is to recognise this
distinctive category of the future.
Exploratory futures are those aspects
of the present that need to be discovered.
Exploration is about “seeing” the present
differently; novelty and discontinuity
are hallmarks. Exploratory futures are
about identifying and making sense of
phenomena that emerge like the Big
Bang: part inspiration, part legacy, part
chance, and part mystery. Exploring this
dimension of the potential of the present
is a delicate and ephemeral balancing
act when compared to optimisation
or contingency, and depends on the
paradoxical, even contradictory task
of building scaffolding that enables
“rigorous imagining”.
The danger is that formal,
preconceived sources of inspiration,
intended to enable discovery, are all
too often exactly what snuffs it out. By
insisting and imposing the patterns,
words, and ideas of the past on the
present, the new and not-yet-meaningful
cannot be invented and brought into our
sense-making processes. Exploration is
not about the paths not taken which
are only the possibilities of the past
brought to life by the present. Instead, it
is about futures unimagined and hence
a present that does not yet make sense.
Until recently, most deliberate
systems for anticipating the future
Futures Literacy — Embracing Complexity and Using the Future | Riel Miller
ETHOS | Issue 10 | OCTOBER 2011
26
have only addressed the rst two
dimensions of the future: both of which
can be understood in ways that largely
ignore complexity. It takes all three,
incorporated into our anticipatory
systems, to see the rich potential of
the present.5
MAKING EXPLICIT OUR ASSUMPTIONS
ABOUT THE FUTURE
There is nothing unusual about making
explicit the “assumptions” underlying
policy choices: this is just best practice.
In general terms, a “good” policy
process will have explicitly considered
the nature of the model(s) being used
(and hence its assumptions including
ones about the future), although the
details of such an analysis may be in the
background documentation rather than
in the main text.
However, all too often the
assumptions that underlie a model
used to conduct a policy analysis are
constrained (for a variety of reasons)
to either:
(i) simple presentations of why
the assumptions are considered
“reasonable” simplifying depictions/
predictions of “reality” in the present
and future, or
(ii) descriptions of “givens” that are
considered exogenous to the model
— imposed by an outside force of
some sort and usually assumed to
apply in the future.
Such limitations do not pose
much of a problem when it comes to
“contingenc y” and “optimisation”
futures, since in such cases the subject
is already constrained by specific
operational or current configurations
of the system no changes in the
conditions of change need to be taken
into account.
Such is not the case when trying to
address complex phenomena rife with
emergent novelty. These problems pose a
design challenge — how to live with and
use the creative novelty of the universe.
The challenge is to find practical ways to
use the future as part of the process of
discovering and creating the present.
This is different than meeting
the implicitly optimisation-oriented
challenge posed by Douglass North
when he pointed out that most of the
models being used for policy analysis are
ergodic,6 failing to incorporate changes
in the conditions of change. North was
highlighting the fact that most policy
analyses, rooted in attempts to estimate
what will happen in the future, still fail
to consider how the policy goal might
change or be achieved differently under
different conditions or when looked at
in the light of other models.
Instead, we should abandon the
effort to try to be so clever that we can
choose the right model, find the right
data, or make the best guess. There
Futures Literacy — Embracing Complexity and Using the Future | Riel Miller
ETHOS | Issue 10 | OCTOBER 2011
27
is no way to outsmart the complexity
of reality; unforeseeable novelty is a
certainty. Instead, the approach should
be to try and develop the capacity to use
the future in a range of different ways,
and not be limited by prediction or by
narrow conceptions of a desired future.
It is about being Futures Literate.
FUTURES LITERACY AS THE CAPACITY
FOR IMPROVISATION
A Futures Literate policymaker is able
to identify and distinguish different
forms of the “potential of the present”;
to use the future in the same way
that an accomplished reader can
distinguish and invent (co-create)
many meanings from a given text. As
a specific approach, Futures Literacy
(FL)7 focuses on the capacity to discover
and invent anticipatory assumptions.
FL enhances the sophistication of our
anticipatory systems.
Working through structured
conversations that treat the future
as an explicit part of shared sense-
making, FL approaches complexity not
by abandoning assumptions about the
future, but by better understanding
the different kinds of futures we use
when we make decisions and enhancing
the richness of each. FL encompasses
traditional techniques for discovering
what might happen in the future
contingency and optimisation futures
that are depicted with the help of a
vast range of familiar predictive and
probabilistic methods. However, what
makes FL distinctive is the integration
of anticipatory systems and the different
categories of the future into each phase
of the action-research processes of sense-
making and making sense.
As indicated in Figure 1, the foresight
process must be designed using a
threefold framework that pays equal
attention to:
1. Narrative — developing sense-making
frameworks and stories that are
meaningful to the participants in
the process and “targets” decision
makers relevant to the process;
2. Collective intelligence — generating
evidence through action research
that uses imaginary futures to
invent and create collaborative maps,
enabling all participants to bring
Futures Literacy — Embracing Complexity and Using the Future | Riel Miller
FIGURE 1. FUTURES LITERACY AS A
LEARNING PROCESS
Narrative
Capacity
Capacity to
Reframe
Collective
Intelligence
(Interactive sense-making)
ETHOS | Issue 10 | OCTOBER 2011
28
the World Futures Studies Federation. He
has worked in the Ontario Civil Service
and the OECD, and is widely published on
topics ranging from the future of the global
economy, the financial sector, the Internet,
education systems, to social equity. Riel
holds a PhD in Economics from the New
School for Social Research, New York and
can be reached at www.rielmiller.com
NOTES
1. Reality is not more or less emergent from one moment
to the next, even if the dominance and stability of systems
and hence degrees of openness and adaptation vary over
time and context.
2. Adapted from: Miller, Riel, “Which Anticipatory System
for University Foresight,” Chapter 6 in The For-Uni Blueprint:
A Blueprint for Organizing Foresight in Universities, Executive
Agency for Higher Education and Research Funding,
(Romania, 2010).
3. In my view, there are three necessary components to
being able to effectively “use the future” for decision-
making. Understanding all three is what I call being
Futures Literate and entails a practical grasp of a)
anticipatorysystems, b) the three ontological aspects of
the future, and c) scientific sense-making capabilities. As a
capacity, Futures Literacy provides a command of the “design
principles that can be applied constantly in order to use the
future to embrace complexity.
4. For an exploration of this topic, and a discussion of “what
is the future, see Special Issue: Anticipatory Systems and
the Philosophical Foundations of Futures Studies, Foresight,
Vol. 12, No. 3, Emerald, 2010.
5. This is a way of connecting a multi-ontology reality with
a multi-epistemology design for action. See Aaltonen M.,
The Third Lens: Multi-ontology Sense Making and Strategic
Decision Making, (Ashgate, 2007).
6. “Ergodic” describes a model or system that remains
stable over time. To use the terminology of Karl Popper, an
ergodic system is one in which there is no “ch ange in the
conditions of change”.
7. Riel Miller, “Futures Literacy: A Hybrid Strategic
Scenario Method”, Futures: The Journal of Policy, Planning
and Future Studies, 39 (Elsevier, May 2007), pp341-362, and
“From Trends to Futures Literacy: Reclaiming the Future”,
Centre for Strategic Education, Seminar Series Papers, No.
160 (Melbourne, Australia, December 2006).
their deep and specific knowledge
into the “story”;
3. Reframing usi ng “rigorous
imagining” to develop and question
the theories and models that define
the variables and relationships,
metrics and definitions being used
to make sense of the present (note:
pattern recognition/data mining
is insufficient).
The point of FL is to become
more adept at inventing imaginary
futures: to use these futures to
discern system boundaries, relationships
and emergence; to invent and detect
changes in the conditions of change;
to rethink the assumptions we use to
understand the present. The emphasis
is on the imaginary: since the point is
not to test present assumptions against
some predictive future, but to use the
future to question, unpack, invent what
is going on and what is doable now.
By increasing our capacity to
improvise and be spontaenous, live with
permanent ambiguity and novelty, FL
frees us up to go beyond the predictable,
and enables us to embrace complexity.
Riel Miller is a faculty member in the Master
of Public Affairs, Sciences-Po, Paris, France,
a board member of the Association of
Professional Futurists, and a Fellow of
Futures Literacy — Embracing Complexity and Using the Future | Riel Miller
ETHOS | Issue 10 | OCTOBER 2011
... This is a call for educators to engage with anticipatory analyses (Poli, 2017) and foresight practice (Hines, 2020). In investigating the post-COVID-19 new normal, the aim of this paper is to highlight the value of crisis learning as part of FL to enhance awareness and understanding of diverse futures (Miller, 2007(Miller, , 2011(Miller, , 2018. Given the salient role of crises in our contemporary world, we propose to situate crisis learning and FL across educational curricula. ...
... FL promotes conscious efforts to make sense and expand awareness of the dynamics of emerging situations (Slaughter, 1990). Further, FL embraces complexity by accommodating diverse attitudes and different modes of engagement with futures (Miller, 2011). FL recognises that there are different approaches and motivations for sense-making, meaning-making and futures thinking and the lens applied influences and determines the types of futures imagined and futures-oriented actions. ...
Article
Purpose Crises are major events or periods faced by individuals, groups and society. This paper aims to explore the value of facilitating (un)learning in and from crises. Educators have a key role in building futures literacy (FL) for dealing with uncertainties, understanding emergence and responding to rapid, complex change. Integrating crisis learning as part of FL is important for enhanced anticipatory and crisis responses. Design/methodology/approach Adapting from causal layered analysis (CLA) methodology, experimental virtual futures workshops were designed and hosted during the coronavirus pandemic. Participants discussed COVID-19 crisis responses and imagined the “new normal”. Sessions explored mindsets applied to make sense and derive meaning from the crisis, myriad ways of adapting to uncertainty, as well as lenses used to imagine post-crisis futures. Findings In the exploratory and participatory CLA exercises, participants shared on the COVID-19 pandemic and imagined post-crisis futures. Related hopes and fears concerned self, collectives and nature. Overall, despite the dramatic nature of crises, opportunities exist for learning and transformation. Educators play a central role in heightening awareness about the dynamics and nature of crises, and integrating crisis learning into FL, as important and transformative capabilities. Research limitations/implications In exploratory dialogues, the “new normal” was applied as a frame for uncertainty. The workshops were hosted during the COVID-19 pandemic as a specific type of crisis. The workshop design is intended to be replicable in various crisis contexts and for iterative rounds with diverse groups. Therefore, futures images exemplify context-specific crisis-time sentiments. The findings presented here do not aim to be generalizable. They are liable to change across different crises, as a crisis evolves and across diverse stakeholders. Practical implications Dramatic change and crisis events offer potential moments for development, advancement and transformation. Educators have an important role in facilitating (un)learning in and from crises, elevating FL and expanding futures consciousness. The CLA methodology can assist educators to engage with multiple facets, layers and dimensions of crises. By considering crises intently, educators can help in anticipating emergence, imagining and preparing for diverse alternatives. Social implications The contemporary world is volatile, complex and ambiguous volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA), as revealed by multiple crises. Crises can spotlight new possibilities and horizons and may be possible turning points. The COVID-19 is an example of a crisis disruption, which provoked thinking and contributed to action about novel prospects. To realise transformative change however, it is important to integrate crisis learning as part of FL, and here educators are an important influence. Originality/value Integrating crisis learning into FL is proposed to improve responses to the rapid pace of change and uncertainty as well as to boost crisis preparedness. As part of this, there is value in applying and developing techniques such as CLA that help explore and question assumptions, to understand diverse, possible and transformed futures. This way, we can explore, imagine and expand new horizons.
... Futures literacy is (i) the ability to identify and distinguish different pathways from the potential of today, and (ii) the capacity to discover and invent anticipatory assumptions [74]. The aim of futures literacy is to enhance people's ability to conceive imaginary and creative futures. ...
... Still, foresighted visions and scenarios are required to trigger questions about the consequences of current actions and choice, to identify potential undesirable trajectories [113] and potentially, to guide strategic action that can lead to desirable outcomes for ocean sustainability. Removing barriers to thinking more creatively about the future [6] and improving futures literacy will be key to enhancing shared capacity to imagine and co-create plausible and desirable ocean futures [74]. ...
Article
Climate change, overexploitation, pollution, and other pressures continue to degrade and threaten the marine environment and associated systems. Successfully managing and governing marine socioecological systems in light of these compounding pressures requires approaches that move beyond reactive and business-as-usual responses. Specifically, achieving ocean health and sustainability in these socioecological systems requires strengthening and applying processes that proactively imagine alternatives and plan for preferred futures. This paper contributes to emerging dialogue on the need to co-create visions of ocean futures, with a focus on the concept of foresighting. Foresighting is a process of creatively identifying possible, plausible, alternative socioecological futures in the medium to long term, and is increasingly seen as an approach that can support decision-making under uncertainty about the future. Here, we explore the origins and practical applications of foresighting from across the literature, before focusing on its (potential) application in the marine context. We discuss which elements are potentially useful or require more engagement to facilitate the visioning of shared futures for marine socioecological systems. We consider key dimensions of foresighting that require greater attention, including futures literacy, inclusivity, and inter- and transdisciplinarity. We also highlight important issues for consideration, including whether foresighting efforts should be informed by experts or by broader community participation, and discuss potential ethical issues associated with engaging marine stakeholders in foresighting. We determine that foresighting has considerable potential in the marine context for connecting stakeholder groups in the process of imagining and shaping equitable and sustainable ocean futures, but several methodological and ethical issues – including who gets to participate, and how - require further critical and careful consideration to create conditions for success.
... We make a claim to contingency (on the meaning and discussion of the term "contingency" as applied to philosophy, futures studies, social sciences and semiotics, see, for example, [51][52][53][54]). In the context of this study, the meaning of "contingent" refers to an understanding of social phenomena as "fluid, contingent and changing in relation to context, history and culture" [38]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Computational thinking (CT) is in the midst of an ongoing debate about its scope and definitions. There is a trend away from a “traditional” computer science-inspired agenda towards a focus on universal competences for today’s labor market. However—and this is the motivation behind the research—the shift described is just an unconscious attempt to reveal the immanent nature of CT as an evolving semiotic phenomenon. The aim of this study is to explore directions and perspectives for the further development of CT and related methodological design approaches. As a research strategy, this article utilizes a case study on the presented set of resources dedicated to CT early education and reveals it in terms of multimodal discourse analysis. As a result, a landscape of future CT trends is presented, uncovering CT from a multimodal semiotic perspective. This article discusses various issues related to CT and its multimodal semiotics nature, perspectives on the design of CT-related resources and additional educational issues such as the perspectives on instructional approaches for CT teaching. We conclude that CT as a social phenomenon is in the process of an evolutionary transformation of its constitutive structure in the direction of further revealing its agentive semiotic nature.
... Briefly, anticipation has been used for theorisation and empirical analysis in various fields, including its genesis in biology by Rosen (1985), future studies (Miller 2011), anticipatory public policy (DeLeo 2012) and psychology (Fukukura, Ferguson, and Fujita 2013). According to Davies and Selin (2012) anticipation is focused on the future, and it is thus defined as "the act of looking forwards. ...
Article
Full-text available
In Rosen’s Anticipatory systems theory, it is generally accepted that modelling relations correctly is important to improve anticipatory capacity. Recently it was accepted that social systems can also be seen as anticipatory systems in which their internal predictive models are generally meaning facilitated through information. However, it is not clear how these externalised models in social systems are measured, thus how “good or bad” they are before deciding on a course of action. Drawing on the Science of Conceptual Systems, these models are regarded as conceptual systems, which include, policies, theories, code of ethics, etc. that guide human decisions and action. In this study using the Integrative Propositional Analysis methodology, the structure of the models provides a useful measure for their anticipatory capacity. The more structured models encode the natural environment more accurately, enhancing their social utility. This research is expected to support inter-, multi-, and transdisciplinary scholars and practitioners.
... The ideas and expectations developed through improved futures literacy contribute to more robust decision-making in the present about the preferred trajectory of local development. By increasing our capacity to improvise and be spontaneous, live with permanent ambiguity and novelty, futures literacy enables us to embrace complexity (Miller, 2011). When framed as a tool for advancing forward-looking collaborative problem-solving, creative placemaking can help communities evolve by increasing futures literacy. ...
... To this would have to be added: 5) founding new global cooperation institutions with regard to futures, foresight and anticipation, as already existent in a nutshell in the above-mentioned unesco's "Futures Literacy" (R. Miller & Feukeu, n.d.;unesco, 2019;R. Miller, 2010) approach headed and coordinated by Riel Miller in Paris (R. Miller, 2018;. This approach should be strongly further developed and obtain international funding in order to lead to more effect on international prevention, risk and futures exploration and coordination patterns, among others by the institution of more interacting unesco Cha ...
... 3 This program aims to help people (individually and collectively) to think about their precarious relationship to the future in terms of "anticipatory systems." That is we need to always be able to distinguish three types of futures: contingentcaused by an external event such as the coronavirus pandemic crisis; optimized -a future that we can somehow plan and control for; and explorative -based on seeing the present di erently and identifying novel ways of making sense of what is going on (Miller, 2011). Miller suggests that much of our debilitating feelings about the future and our lack of control over it stem from an underdeveloped "capacity to discover and invent anticipatory assumptions" (27). ...
... Miller [7][8][9][10] labels a novel kind of literal mastery 'futures literacy' (FL). According to Miller [1], FL is a cumulative capacity or competence to explore the potential of the present to give rise to the future, and he deems FL 'a capability' . ...
Article
Full-text available
This article proposes a functional historicist explanation to explicate the core ideas and underlying logic embedded in the futures literacy concept. Futures literacy assumes a capacity to reflect on the past, sense and make sense of the present and use this reflective body of knowledge when anticipating the future. Arguably, futures literacy must be learned, sustained, and regained; it requires a continuous, anticipative, and recursive loop. Recursivity, where an effect in an initial period acts as a cause in the next period, retroacts between the future and present, regaining anticipation. Anticipation has causal effects in the way it structures our images of the future and the avenue we follow when striving to achieve this image. Such a causal structure implies both feedforward and feedback control and is contained in the logic of functional explanations used in sociology.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The concept of "mediatization" as a metaprocess is a central theoretical contribution to media ethics. In the following, we understand this to be a philosophical-scientific reflection on man's conceptions of norms with regard to his medial practices, above all on the plausibility of their normative implications, their legitimizing principles and the associated objectives for concrete actions (morality), as well as the preparation of the next generation to realize these morals (education). In this paper, however, we want to differentiate this presupposition of mediatization in its significance for media ethics. To this end, we will first explore the question of how the manifold further developments (Teter, 2019) that follow from what Krotz (2001, 2007) called the "mediatization thesis" have taken up this thesis and opened up new thematic aspects ("mediatization 2.0" and "3.0"). Then we outline the relevant aspects and consequences of our versioning proposal "Mediatization 4.0", in short the abandonment of the speciesist definition of mediatization as an aspect of humanity. At the same time, we understand these remarks as an outline of a "research programme" as postulated by Imre Lakatos. Such a programme allows for a multitude of different research efforts, but keeps these differentiations compatible with each other by means of a "hard core" of theoretical basic assumptions - by no means "anything goes" (Feyerabend). These basic assumptions of the "hard core" formulate a claim to theoretical agreeableness that is not itself empirical, but grounds empiricism. Finally, in an outlook, we will discuss the consequences of this concept of mediatization for the current central topic of inclusion.
Article
Full-text available
This article calls on sustainability researchers to place visions of the future at the center of their analyses. Recognizing humans as reflexive elements of socio-ecological systems, it proceeds from the premise that how people think about the future has significant consequences for the realities that ultimately ensue. The ideas presented here are informed by a qualitative/open-form survey designed to illuminate respondents' visions of the future. Completed by participants in the Transition movement for climate change resilience, survey responses indicate that Transition participants' visions are both exceptionally holistic and consciously connected to their present actions. These findings have important implications for the development of sustainable programs and systems. More broadly, this article argues that exploring how individuals and groups envision the future offers (1) a new appreciation of conceptions of the future as distinctive (sub)cultural attributes, (2) an understanding of how visions of the future influence actions in the present, (3) an enhanced capacity for anticipation and proactive response, and (4) opportunities to inspire diverse audiences by conveying the possibility of positive futures. Acknowledging the ability of engaged scholarship to change not only how people imagine the world but also how the material world takes shape, this work underscores researchers' moral obligation to contribute to the creation of more sustainable futures. Supplementary information: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s43545-022-00356-1.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.