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The Three Tomorrows of Postnormal Times

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The Three Tomorrows of Postnormal Times
Ziauddin Sardar, John A. Sweeney*
Centre for Postnormal Policy and Futures Studies, East-West University, Chicago, IL, USA
Article history:
Received 29 June 2015
Received in revised form 11September 2015
Accepted 15 October 2015
Available online 4 November 2015
Postnormal times
Menagerie of postnormal potentialities
The Three Tomorrows of Postnormal Times is a new method for foresight and futures
researchers and practitioners. Designed and developed to explore the complexity, chaos,
and contradictions of postnormal times and what might come next, the three tomorrows
method uses a multi-layered approach to situate and analyze trends, emerging issues, and
imaginings of the future(s), including complex, horizonspecic forecasts. In this paper, we
provide a theoretical overview of the key concepts underlying our approach, including the
three forms of ignorance and uncertainty as well as the Menagerie of postnormal
potentialities, which we developed as a mechanism for challenging deeply held
convictions, illuminating entrenched contradictions, and enlivening novel considerations.
ã2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
1. Introduction
Everything changes and nothing stands still. So said Heraclitus, as reported by Plato in Cratylus(402a), over two millennia
ago (Sedley, 2003). But nowadays everything is changing at an accelerating pace on a variety of scales: social, political,
cultural, technological, including geologic, as the emergence of the notion of the Anthropocene (Crutzen & Stoermer, 2000)
or the more radical concept of the Technopocene (Berthon & Donnellan, 2011;[331_TD$DIFF] Sweeney, 2014) suggests. On a smaller, yet
interrelated, scale, the very idea of what is the human body and what it means to be human is changing in ways seemingly
beyond our control and capacity to comprehend the implications for what might lie ahead. As Enriquez and Gullans argue in
Evolving Ourselves, we are intentionally and unintentionally changing the very conditions of possibility for evolution. While
we have always adapted our being-in-the-world through artefacts, tools, and prosthetics, the compounded effects of ourall-
too-modern lives have ushered in an era of unnatural selectionand non-random mutation(Enriquez & Gullans, 2015).
Globally, rates of obesity in humans nearly doubled from 1980 to 2014 (World Health Organization, 2015). In the U.S. alone,
the rate of autism rose by 119 percent from 2001 to 2010 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015).
Moreover, the changes we are facing todayare not incremental and isolated but occur simultaneously and are connected
and interconnected. Often when these changes come together they create a sense of crisis, as noted by the UN Secretary
General, Ban Ki-moon. The world, he declared at the UN General Assembly in 2014, was living in an era of unprecedented
level of crises(Borger, 2014). The world faced a daunting list of crises which ought to be read chaotic behavior in 2014:
Ebola, ISIS, Central African Republic, Gaza, Iraq, Myanmar, South Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, nancial instability within the EU,
and the deteriorating relationship between Russia and the West, in addition to the long-standing, and decidedly
unaddressed, problems of climate change. What does it all mean?
Our thinking has been greatly aided and strengthened by the many critical comments and insights of Jordi Serra del Pino, Scott Jordan, Wendy Schultz,
Jim Dator, Merryl Wyn Davies and Ted Fuller. We are grateful to the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) for supporting this research
* Corresponding author.
E-mail address: (J.A. Sweeney).
0016-3287/ã2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Futures 75 (2016) 113
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All of the above adds up to a snap shot of our lives in postnormal times (Sardar, 2010, 2015). In light of such far-reaching,
rapid, and simultaneous changes a major characteristic of postnormal times (hereafter PNT) an important new question
arises for futurists and foresight researchers and practitioners: are existing methods able to cope with futures that are
intrinsically complex, chaotic, contradictory, uncertain, and rapidly collapsing in and upon themselves? Traditionally,
Futures Studies deals with plurality of alternative futures by differentiating between plausible, probable, possible, and
preferable futures (Henchey,1978, p. 26). But what is probable in a world where uncertainty and chaos is the norm? What is
plausible in futures dominated by contradictions? Are our conventional methods, such as forecasting, scenarios, and
modeling t for purpose in PNT? Do scenarios about future(s) take note of changing change? Do existing scenario modeling
methods adequately allow for the requisite pluralism and polylogues, including amongst humans, non- and, un-humans,
needed to confront PNT? How do we produce viable policies to navigate PNT? Or, to put it another way, do our stories about
the future(s) tell us something meaningful that can generate policies and strategiesto cope with complexity, uncertaintyand
chaotic behavior?
This paper provides a theoretical overview of the concepts comprising a novel method (The Three Tomorrows of
Postnormal Times) we have developed to address the above queries. In this work, we outline what we believe is a pressing
need for our methodological framework and how our approach ts into the eld of Futures Studies. As this research builds off
established and related concepts, we believe bothcasual and expert readers will benet from reviewing the core readings of
PNT theory (Sardar, 2010, 2015). Ultimately, this paper represents the rst in a series of research articles that will feature case
studies showing the applicability of our method.
2. From [332_TD$DIFF]dialogues to polylogues
When all is uncertain, nothing is predictable, writes Gardner in Future Babble (Gardner, 2012, p. 139). Many, if not most,
predictions invariably turn out to be wrong, as Scientic Americanrecently found out when it performed a review of its past
pronouncements about the future (von Reibnitz, 1988). In fact, Gardner argues, expert predictions and forecasts, despite the
cautious probabilities, the kind we use in Delphi, add to our problems because they do away with complexity,
incomprehension and uncertainty(Gardner, 2012). As a means to remedy this problem, scenario planning is often used. But,
as Glenn and Gordon argue, scenario is probably the most abused term in futures research. What usually passes for a
scenario today is a discussion about a range of future possibilities with data and analysis [ ...].Itislike confusing the text of
a play's newspaper review with the text of the play written by the playwright(Glenn,[333_TD$DIFF] Gordon, & Millennium Project, 2009,
p. 2). Scenarios can never take into account, however carefully they are generated, many, if not most, of the changes that may
occur between now and one's designated time horizonwe believe this very much applies to scenarios emphasizing
plausibility as well.
Plausibility has always been a contentious term within Futures Studies, if only because one of the primary aims of
foresight is to call into question the normative and logical lenses with which we perceive what might lie ahead. It is
interesting to note that the root of the term plausible is the Latin plausibilis:worthy of applause. In short, plausibility is as
much about acceptability as it is about logical coherence, which is to say that it has much more to do with the present than it
does with the futurea point well and directly addressed by Dators Second Law of the Future: any useful idea about the
future should appear to be ridiculous(Dator, Sweeney, & Yee, 2015).
This is not to say that current futures methods are in any way irrelevant but simply to point out their inherent
limitationsparticularly in relation to PNT. If Futures Studies is rst and foremost about analyzing imaginings of futures,
then perceptual plausibility is certainly something to be considered when modeling scenarios, but it need not be the onlyand
most important metric. After all, the goal of any scenario planningexercise is to generate actions for the futureby disturbing
the present, but we do not believe that futures methods are keeping up with the forces and drivers that are actually
disturbing the present and moving us toward Unthought Futures. An analysis of the increasingly popular Three Horizons
method helps to contextualize our point.
Originally devised to help business clients engage simultaneously with short-term, medium-term, and long-term futures,
the rst iteration of Three Horizons aims to wind tunnelstrategy and policy initiatives using successive S-curves to model
change over time (Curry & Hodgson, 2008, p. 4). Moving beyond standard management-oriented approaches, Three Horizons
received a major overhaul through the work of Sharpe and Hodgson (2006, p.6), who reframed the tool to see our current
situation in a variety of ways and help illuminate the choices available. First, one creates an x-axis using the metric of time
(present to future) and a y-axis using the metric of strategic twith a low (bottom) to high (top) spectrum as depicted in Fig. 1.
Next, one plots the three horizons. The rst horizon articulates the predominant paradigms and ideologies of today,
which, as the method presumes, will decline as one moves forward in time. Then, one charts the third horizon, which is
composed of emerging issues or weak signals including those most aligned with ones preferred or feared future that are
extrapolated using a growth S-curve model. Finally, one maps the second horizon to modelthe challenges and uncertainties
relative to the rst horizon, and, as it were, challenges facing both horizons. There is no question that this is the most
interesting dimension of the Three Horizons method, especially as this is the only space where truly postnormal conditions
might emerge, at least in theory. Our qualication, and contention, centers on the fact that the only true site of conict in this
method occurs in the mid-future, so to speak, which is to say that this approach takes little account of the complex and
accelerating dynamics that continuously usurp our best practices in the here and now. In other words, the Three Horizons
helps us prepare for a future that might have alreadypassed or, perhaps even worse, might inadvertently cause us to presume
2Z. Sardar, J.A. Sweeney / Futures 75 (2016) 113
that change unfolds in a predictable, if not cyclical, fashion. To be fair, no tool or method is perfect, but we believe that
something more is needed to help us navigate PNT.
As we, and others, have argued elsewhere, PNT demands that we get away from linearity and focus our attention on the
interconnections amongst complexity, chaos, and contradictions. Moreover, all stories we tell about the future(s) ought to
emphasize their dynamic and mind bogglingly diverse nature, chaotic potential, contradictory possibilities, and invoke
imaginationand creativity (Montuori,2011).This is why we, as well asothers, prefer to speak of globalweirding(Armour& Roe,
2011) ratherthan global warming,andFutures Studiesmust do better at not justengaging but embracingthe truly weird, if only
to remain relevant in the wake of the changes tocome (Sweeney, 2014). In light of this phenomenon,Schultz argues that Dators
Second Law mustbe expanded as ridiculousonlychallenges assumptions,and any truly useful idea aboutthe future(s) should
appear to be transgressive (challenge paradigms) and repellent (challenge values)(Schultz, 2014).
The scope and scale of global weirding, which we still do not fully comprehend, has led some to pen manifestos in
response to the postnormal challenges of the present and possibilities for what might lie ahead. The founders of
Accelerationism, Williams and Srnicek, argue:
What the left must reconnect to is its roots in the Enlightenment [ ...]tolayclaim to a positive vision of the future,
capable of supplanting our current economic and political systems with ones which enable, rather than suppress, a
generalised human ourishing . . . For it is only once the left takes command of the future, and modernisation once again
becomes synonymous with radical left politics, rather than neoliberalisation, that we can collectively come to grasp our
world such that we might change it (Williams & Srnicek, 2013).
Although The Accelerationist Manifesto cites the concept of future shock, they seem woefully unaware of Futures
Studiesboth as an academic discipline and eld of praxis. While it is perhaps foolish to expect research-drivenanalysis from a
manifesto, PickardsGonzo Futurist Manifesto locates itself squarely within the dynamics of PNT and gestures toward the need
for new modes of thought and action (Pickard, 2012). What is interesting about both manifestos is their difference with regards
to scale; while one (accelerationist) focuses on the macro, the other (Gonzo) relishes in a tribe-of-afnity; your personal
community-of-interest(Pickard, 2012). If anything is evident in PNT, it is that one must not simply choose between grand
political enterprises and echo-chamber cliques. What is needed? Polylogues of various scope and scale (Kristeva, 1977).
Coined in 1977 by Kristeva, who has a book with the same name, polylogues denote multiple logics, speeches, and
existences(Chen, 2010). As we see it, polylogues require the creation of new physical and mental spaces where diversity,
pluralism, and contending perspectives are present on their own terms but also deeply invested in engaging others in
creating and sharing information and knowledge.
For some, this was the hope of Wikipedia, but the English version has
been deemed a colossal failureas only a tiny proportion of users now edit articles and the overwhelmingly majority of those
editors are male(Kleeman, 2015, p. 35). In addition to nding better and more egalitarian ways to share what and how we
know, we must continuously seek out collaborative and dynamic means to craft and share our stories. As Latour points out,
story-telling is not just a property of human language, but one of the many consequences of being thrown in a world that is,
by itself, fully articulated and active. It is easy to see why it will be utterly impossible to tell our common geostory without, all
of us novelists, generals, engineers, scientists, politicians, activists, and citizens getting closer and closer within such a
common trading zone(Latour, 2014, p. 14). Latourscommon trading zoneis precisely what we seek in our invocation of
Kristevas polylogue, and we believe this notion is sorely lacking in much, if not most, of ongoing discourses on the present
and futures. Establishing such zones through the formation of event or issue-specic polylogues
will not be an easy task,
especially as this endeavor demands that we rethink deeply held traditions, practices, and customs of knowledge sharing and
Fig. 1. [329_TD$DIFF]The Three Horizons.
We very much recognize the vastcontributions of many over the past decades who have sought to expand discursive feedback loops for foresight-driven
policy and decision-making processes, and we particularly want to call attention to the work of Amara (1972),Linstone (1999), and Functowicz and Ravetz
(1994) in this area, especially the critical notion of forming of an extended peer community.
In May 2014, we held our rst polylogue at East-West University. We are currently planning another workshop-based polylogue for Fall 2015, and we
plan to experiment further with this concept and develop another research paper featuring case studies.
Z. Sardar, J.A. Sweeney / Futures 75 (2016) 113 3
production. As such, any analysis of the present and futures also needs to acknowledge that many things we take for granted,
including a variety of complex systems, are going to (continue to) get weird. It might be true that there is no such thing as an
historical possibility, but, in our estimation, this is very much a future(s) fact.
3. Normalcy, postnormalcy, postnormal creep and burst
The rst weird fact that we must acknowledge is thatnormalcy and postnormalcy both overlap and exit side by side.Not all
systemsare affected in the same wayand to the same extentby complexity, chaos and contradictions (hereafter3Cs)—‘the forces
that shape and propel postnormal times(Sardar, 2010, p. 436). Equally, not all systems are inherently postnormal and will
become postnormalin the same way. For example, isolated communities, structures and organizations that are self-sufcient
and not connected to the global economy and international system can and might be more resilient in the wake of climate
change. However, many normalsystems will not continue to operate normallyin PNTsooner or later, the 3Cs will have a
direct or indirect impact on them.Moreover, there are some systems that are already postnormal, such as science, intelligence,
privacy, and other networked systems looming with postnormal potentialitysuch as our cars (Higginbothan, 2015)and
refrigerators (Greenberg,2015). Whenone stops to reect on the changes allaround us, things can certainly feelpostnormal. For
generations born into this milieu, however, postnormal will be normalthe world as they know it and inhabit it.
With that said, the notion of normalcy itself is somewhat weird, especially in PNT. This normalcy does not conform to
accepted denitions: standard, common, conventional, usual, regular, and natural. Rather, as Rao points out, it is a decidedly
manufactured normalcy(Rao, 2012). It is manufacturedin the sense, as outlined by Herman and Chomsky in
Manufacturing Consent, that such norms have been developed by powerful international institutions and organizations,
including the media and technology companies, that function by relying on market forces, internal, unquestioned
assumptions, and subtle manipulation to generate ideological and consumer desires and dreams. But more importantly, it is
manufactured by our reactions to and perceptions of changeboth past and present. As Rao notes, when people are faced
with new technological experiences they put all their effort in maintaining a familiar sense of a static, continuous present
(Rao, 2012). Indeed, we change our mental models and behaviors in an attempt to overlook or ignore the changes that are
taking place in front of our eyes. We look back to create stories and metaphors that relate new changes we are experiencing to
something we already know and understand. The smart phone used the phone metaphor to make mobile computing
comprehensible, word processing uses page and document metaphors that have been in use for a millennia, and we
understand Facebook in terms of school year-books(Rao, 2012). Then we make deliberate choices to de-emphasize the
strangeness of the new. Rao explains this using the example of air travel:
Airline passengers donty. They travel in a manufactured normalcy eld. When you are sitting on a typical modern
jetliner, you are traveling at 500 mph in an aluminium tube that is actually capable of some pretty scary acrobatics.
Including generating brief periods of zero-g. Yet a typical air traveller never experiences anything that one of our
ancestors could not experience on a fast chariot or a boat (Rao, 2012).
As Rao elucidates, the manufactured normalcy eld (hereafter MNF) is a means of re-orienting our perceptions of what is
and is not normal, and as a eld that expands and contracts relative to our individual or communal focus, the MNF is shaped
by the forces of ignorance and uncertainty. Fig. 2 provides a rendering of this relationship.
Normalphenomena move toward postnormalcy through the process of postnormal creep (hereafter PNC): when
systems become interconnected and complex, when social media, 24-hour television and other forms of technologies are
used to generate positive feedback, chaos emerges, sometimes rapidly, and things get weird. This concept is captured
Fig. 2. Our modied futures cone.
4Z. Sardar, J.A. Sweeney / Futures 75 (2016) 113
brilliantly in the BBCs award-winning series, Black Mirror, which deftly imagines the many and varied changes surrounding
new and emerging technologies, and explains the decidedly human interactions and reactions underlying various mutative
media(Dator et al., 2015). A number of scholars have noted the diffuse ways with which net-based information and
communication tools may serve as powerful accelerating factors of social protest(Stepanova, 2011, p. 6), of which the
uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, commonly known as the Arab Spring, and recent protests in Baltimore,
Ferguson and other cities in the U.S. leading tothe emergence of the #blacklivesmatter movement, are clear examples of how
communication technologies can hasten PNC.
Although the forces driving PNC can be powerful, not all embrace the ows of such strong currents. There are some who
cannot see, or rather ignore or refute, the emergence of PNC and cling to manufactured normalcy in face of the weird. They
suffer from Postnormal Lag (hereafter PNL): a perceptual condition of denial. An obvious example is climate change deniers.
In psychology, the concept of abnegation explains how one continues to deny something in this case one of the greatest
threats facing the world even in the face of overwhelming evidence. With abnegation as with PNL, one chooses, perhaps
consciously, not to know. Thus, PNL is a disavowalone that can only be overcome through postnormal burst (hereafter
PNB): when the system goes totally postnormal and there is no place to hide.
Consider the case of how our digital lives constantly keep us at the edge of chaos. Take Twitter, which demands instant
reactions and multiplies your reaction manifold; a thoughtless tweet can instantly take you toward unthought horizons as
Justine Sacco, the PR head of an American publisher, discovered on 20 December 2013. On her way toCape Town, she tweeted
to her rather miniscule 170 followers just before boarding the plane at Heathrow: Going to Africa. Hope I dont get AIDS. Just
kidding. Im white(Ronson, 2015, p. 64). Although Sacco saw her tweet as a comment on white privilege, the Twittersphere
overwhelmingly saw it otherwise. By the time she landed in Cape Town, eleven hours later, she was topping the world-wide
trendinglist. Within 11 days, Sacco was Googled 1.22 million times, and a few days later she was red. Sacco has yet to nd
gainful employment or nd a date (Moses, 2015). As the Sacco example illustrates, PNB can have a range of effects on a
number of scales, including the intensely personal. Another example of PNB is the European refugee crisis, which has been
creeping toward chaos for some time, and the complexityunderlying and contradictions surrounding it are now undeniable.
4. The Three Tomorrows of Postnormal Times framework
Given our ages weird characteristics, exploring futures within the PNT framework presents us with specic challenges.
We need to focus on simultaneity and complexity as well as the dynamic nature of PNT. We need an appreciation of
uncertainty as well as of different levels of ignorancein postnormal times the unknowns cannot be reduced to measurable
risks. We need to take account of empirically observable trends, theoretically understand the mechanisms that produce PNC
and PNB, and incorporate as much imagination and creativity in the whole exercise as possible. The framework we have
developed to understand and navigate PNT, as well as explore futures, is The Three Tomorrows of Postnormal Times
(hereafter 3T).
In the 3T framework, we need to consider that the present is dynamic, networked, consists of manufactured normalcyand
systems that are pregnant with the potential to go postnormal: in other words, the present is complex, pluralistic and partly
postnormal all of which has to be introduced right at the beginning of our exploration of the future. But the present is not
simply the now. The present is extendedbecause many empirically observed trends are deeply embedded in the now and
will manifest themselves in the coming years. This Extended Present is the rst tomorrow; as a common term in Futures
Studies, it is what most people mean when they talk about the future. As we see it, the Extended Present is dominated by
and populated with trends (global, regional, and local) and emerging issues or weak signals that cannot be averted; they
simply expand and extend the present to cover the next ve to ten years, although the temporal particularities are elastic in
relation to the thematic context. In other words, the future represented by the Extended Present has already been largely
colonized (Dator,1975; Sardar, 1993). Here the best we can do is use the lens of PNT to identify systems that may be creeping
toward postnormality, or on the verge of PNB. To suggest that the Extended Present is already colonized smacks of
determinismsomething that is anathema to Futures Studies, which is also rather averse to predictions. However, the fact
remains that a variety of trends and phenomenon are embedded in the Extended Present and are foreseeable, although
perfect knowledge of what might be ahead remains impossible.
Consider the rather trivial example of Apples iWatch. In the November 2014 issue of T3: The Gadget Magazine, the nal
letter from the publications (now former) Editor, bragged, We predicted the iWatchin my rst issue, almost four years
ago...Onalong enough timeline, we all get something right, and now the iWatch is here(Hill, 2014 ). Hills prediction is not
exceptional or right. The trends toward wearable computerswas well established by 2008 (Rhodes, 1997), and as the
corporation that had established the iline of products that made Apple a $1 Trillion Company(Yarow, 2014), it was hardly
surprising that Apple would produce an iWatch, especially as the market for wearables is considered by many to be the next
big thing. There was a small problem with Hill's assertion: a European-based rm registered the name iWatch back in 2008,
which means that Apples smartwatch, which appeared on the market in April 2015, was not able to join its line of i
products. It is simply called the Apple Watch. What is interesting about Hills claim, and its relevance for contextualizing the
Our choice of name for this method is not meant to allude to Frank Brennan's Three Tomorrows, which is ction-driven, English-language learning
Z. Sardar, J.A. Sweeney / Futures 75 (2016) 113 5
Extended Present, is that he identied an embedded trend that would take its natural course, but missed, or rather
misidentied, the details. In the Extended Present, it might be possible to accurately predict or forecastwhat might lie ahead,
especially in areas of technological development, but one must look beyond mere extrapolations to understand the
postnormal dynamics of this horizon.
After the Extended Present comes the familiar future(s), which can and might extend from ten to twenty years but,
regardless of time horizon, seems familiar because it is mediated by images and imaginings of the future(s)from data-
driven projections to science ction. Trends embedded in the Extended Present along with images from advertising,
corporate visions, popular futurologyand science ction novels, lms and television shows are extrapolated and projected
to create a picture of the future that is all too familiar. Consider, for example, how many technological developments have
originated, or are about to start, based on the images of science ction lms: cyborgs from Terminator (1984) and robots from
StarWars (1977) have morphed into Google military robots such as the Atlas, the agile anthropomorphic robotand Pet Man,
the soldier robot, both in development and to be unleashed in a decade or so (Peckham, 2012). Or, how built environments
and urbanization have come to reect the cityscapes of Blade Runner (1982) and Dark City (1998); and Disneyland itself has
inspired so many cities such as Putra Jaya, Malaysia, and Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Or, how the behavior of the characters in Mad
Max (1979, 2015) is replicated by the fanatical Jihads of the Islamic Caliphate(Harnden, 2015). Or, the possibility of merging
technology, biology and human physicality depicted in Ex Machina (2015) that heralds the fashion industrys push to develop
adigital skin: nanotechnology will allow manufacturers to embed functions into the simplest articles of clothing, while a
network of sensors in and on the body, injected or worn,will envelope the body with a second skin (Holmes, 2011). Reect on
how many technologies portrayed in various Star Trek lms and television shows are already in everyday use and how many
others could follow suite. Indeed, we are embarking on futures that are, at once, highly familiar and, yet, conceal intensely
weird dynamics.
Inayatullahs notion of the used futureresonates with the intended scope of the Familiar Future(s), which is meant to
explore and challenge extant imaginings for what might lie beyond the Extended Present (Inayatullah, 2008). By inherently
pluralizing the future(s) through a double reading, the familiar future(s) is simultaneously meant to be both singular and
plural. It is singular in the sense (Future) that it aims to nd what is familiar amongst a range of complex possibilities and
plural (Futures) in the sense that it engages with alternative, and at times divergent, imaginings.
Beyond the familiar future(s) lies the unthought future(s), a horizon of pure possibility that extends beyond the next 20
years. The unthought future(s) is not unthinkable but rather a horizon where something always remains unthought, which is
to say that it is populated with seemingly innite alternative futureseach necessitating their own polylogue to begin to
explore the divergent perspectives surrounding them. Although there are seemingly innumerable data sets about these
worldsfrom demographic to economic projectionsthere are few, if any, models that can provide adequate insight into
what might transpire in this tomorrow. Thus, collaborative creativity and ethical imagination[s]are not simply the best
tools for constructing scenarios in this tomorrow, they are the only tools(Sardar, 2010, p. 444). Furthermore, the unthought
future(s) is not simply something that is not expected or anticipated; rather, it is something outside the framework of
conventional thoughtsomething that does not allow us to focus on or think about it. On the other hand, the unthought can
also be an opportunity so uncommon that it appears utterly unreachable. As such, the unthought is not just limited to the
unthought future(s); it can and might exist in the Extended Present and Familiar Futures. But, it is only in the unthought
future(s) where full implications are brought to bear and we are forced to confront it head on.
In order to locate our method within the broader eld of Futures Studies and strategic foresight, we have adapted, or
rather mutated, the well-known futures cone (Candy, 2010 ;[334_TD$DIFF] Hancock & Bezold, 1994;[335_TD$DIFF] Taylor, 1993; Voros, 2003; von Reibnitz,
1988), to show the relational dynamics between each horizon. Fig. 3 shows the perceived relationship between each of the
Fig. 3. Temporal-only 3T rendering.
6Z. Sardar, J.A. Sweeney / Futures 75 (2016) 113
three horizons. In this image, the thickness and trajectoryof the lines within each horizon symbolizes perceptual acuity, the
degree to which one has the capacity to see trends emerge, persist, and/or be disrupted; and potentiality, the capacity for
something to move from mere possibility toward actuality.
Although this two-dimensional image suggests separation, the 3Ts are not isolated entities but deeply interconnected
spatial and temporal zones of actual and perceptual phenomena that have a dramatic effect on the here and now. The
familiar future(s) is an integral part of the Extended Present; and both contain a great deal of unthought future(s). It is also
important to emphasize that any event or phenomenon from the furthest horizon has a real potential of having an impact on
the here and now. In PNT, what seems unthought becomes part of tomorrow's everyday life. As such, the exploration of the
future(s) in this framework has to involve and engage with all 3T's simultaneously. Moreover, there are systems and
phenomenon with the potential to go postnormal in all three, which means that we should be able to examine the contextual
components in each tomorrow that may be exhibiting PNC or be on the verge of a PNB. Thus, 3T actually operates more as
represented in Fig. 4.
5. Ignorance, uncertainty,[336_TD$DIFF] and the Menagerie of Postnormal Potentialities
Each tomorrow has a particular type of uncertainty and ignorance attached to it.
When complexity, chaos and
contradictions come together, it should not surprise us that uncertainty is the result. The most basic variety of uncertainty
emerges when the direction of change is known but the magnitude and probability of events and consequences cannot be
estimated. This is the situation we nd within the Extended Present, where the future is largely colonized and certain trends
are deeply embedded. We have a limited set of possible alternative futures, at least one of which could come to fruition. We
call this surface uncertainty, which can be managed to some degree with adequate knowledge and foresight tools. In the
familiar future(s), we are presented with a broad range of alternatives and a plethora of possible futures. As such, we can say
little about the general direction of change; and even less about the emergence of postnormal phenomenon when
complexity, chaos and contradictions come together. But we do know that many of these futures are simply a projection of
common images and imaginaries of the future. Managing the resultant uncertainty presents us with a complex, not to say,
wicked problem, but we can still grasp it to some extent. We call this shallow uncertainty. Finally, the unthought future(s),
where anything can happen and nothing is known, presents us with Deep Uncertainty. Here, we arenot only unaware of the
direction, dimension and impact of change, but we are also incapable of knowing what is happening to the system because
our worldview or epistemology is totally inadequate. The three varieties of uncertainties are entrenched in an environment
where change is accelerating and new innovations, processes, social and political relations are constantly transforming the
emerging landscape. Fig. 4 captures how we striate the three uncertainties.
Each type of uncertainty is associated with a particular category of ignorance. The simple or plain ignorance (signied as
) can be dened as the absence of knowledge; it relates to those items or phenomena that we do not comprehend. This is
the ignorance we may encounter in a complex or contradictory situation, which may be overcome by understanding the
We plan to do further research on and analysis of existing typologies of uncertainty and ignorance in a subsequent paper on this topic. At present, we
believe the models presented for both uncertainty and ignorance best suit our methodological approach.
Our thinking has been greatly aided and strengthened by the many critical comments and insights of Jordi Serra del Pino, Scott Jordan, Wendy Schultz,
Jim Dator, Merryl Wyn Davies and Ted Fuller. We are grateful to the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) for supporting this research.
Fig. 4. Spatio-temporal 3T rendering.
Z. Sardar, J.A. Sweeney / Futures 75 (2016) 113 7
complex networks involved, or appreciating the simultaneous truthsof actors with contradictory demands (for example, a
government that needs development and a community that wants to preserve its environment, land and heritage). This is
the dominant variety of ignorance in the Extended Present: it can be overcome, and Surface Uncertainty reduced, through
learning, research, appreciating the viewpoints of others, and asking the right questions. The Familiar Futures present us
with a deeper level of ignorance, associated with shallow uncertainty, when we do not even knowwhat questions to ask. But
it also has another dimension: the answers to any pertinent questions, if we could ask them, can only be found over the
horizon. For example, we do not know for sure how genetically modied food will affect the food chain, or how genetic
engineering will affect the human body, or what impact infectious connectivity(Sweeney, 2015) will have on the human
mindthe answers can only be found sometime in the future after a generation at least has experienced the impacts and
effects of these developments. We call it Vincible
Ignorance (signied as i
): it cannot be overcome in the present by
learning as there is nothing to learn, but it creates an awareness of what we do not know and must seek to know in the future.
Associated with Familiar Futures, it generates shallow uncertainty, which could also be transformed into surface uncertainty
in the future. Then, of course, there are Rumsfeldsunknown unknowns:the ones we dont know we dont know(Morris,
2014). It is related tothe Deep Uncertainty of the unthougtht future(s) and is categorized as Invincible Ignorance (signied as
The unthought lies beyond our imagination; we are unable to think about things that lie outside our imagination which is
determined by and limited to our worldview and frameworks of our assumptions and axioms, and often because we do not
have a language to deal with such thought. Invincible Ignorance is thus the ignorance of our ignorance, the in-built
ignorance of the potential risks of recent developmentsthat requires radically new ways of thinking(Sardar, 2010, p. 440).
In other words, Invincible Ignorance cannot be overcome by our conventional tools as it is connected to the unthought parts
of our own worldview; it is the ignorancethat compels us to action with a false sense of condence in existing paradigms and
modes of knowing, being and doing. We can only grapple with Invincible Ignorance by questioning our axioms, bycritiquing
our basic and long cherished assumptions, and by totally rethinking our worldview. Fig. 5 captures how we situate a unique
uncertainty and ignorance within each horizon.
The three levels of uncertainty and ignorance enable us to begin to understand and chart the degree of actual and
perceptual postnormalcy surrounding a particular issue, system, or horizon. In the Extended Present, we attempt to reduce
Surface Uncertainty by processing the available information to produce hypotheses that could throw some light on what we
are seeing. If available information is not enough, we will have to determine if gathering more data will help or not. If
uncertainty continues to increase, it would be an indication that we are moving toward Vincible Ignorance of Familiar
Futures: we would now have to determine what lines of inquiry could possibly produce appropriate knowledge and the time
horizons involved in acquiring that knowledge. Finally, if the situation has reached a chaotic stage, we know we are dealing
with Deep Uncertainty of Unthought Futures. We now have to consider if it is our paradigm itself that is failing us, which
would indicate the presence of Invincible Ignorance. The most appropriate action now is to work toward an alternative,
better paradigm.
However, all three horizons Extended Present, Familiar Futures and Unthought Futuresinclude systems and sub-
systems that are either on the verge of PNB or, at the very least, showing signs of PNC. Much of our uncertainty, and hence
ignorance, is associated with the emergence of postnormalcy. So, apart from grasping the uncertainty and ignorance
associated with each horizon, our exploration of futures, and any forecasts, scenarios and visions based on it, must also
grapple with the postnormal potentialities inherent to all three horizons.
We are intentionally re-appropriating the language of Catholic Ethics, specically Thomas Aquinas in Summa Theologica, although our denitions for
both Vincible and Invincible Ignorance differ substantively from their original deployment.
As Sweeney notes, global weirding is atting moniker for the emerging meshwork of (1) increasing technological advancement, dependence, and
ubiquity, (2) impending ecological catastrophe(s), and (3) the transnational drive and reach of postnormal actants [ . . . ](Sweeney, 2014, p. 3).
This visual is intentionally modeled after Functowicz and Ravetzs Postnormal Science image, and we are indebted to Jordi Serra del Pino for making this
important connection and developing the initial visual for Fig. 6.
Fig. 5. Levels of uncertainties.
8Z. Sardar, J.A. Sweeney / Futures 75 (2016) 113
Postnormal phenomena are most evident and most easily seen in the Extended Present. It is like a Black Elephant in the
room, which either no one can see or chooses to ignore. Or, if its presence is recognized, no one is actually able to tackleit. A
Black Elephant, notes Vinay Gupta, is an event which is extremely likely and widely predicted by experts, but people attempt
to pass it off as a Black Swan when it nally happens. Usually the experts who had predicted the event from the economic
crisis to pandemic ugo from being marginalized to being lionized when the problem nally rears its head(Gupta, 2009).
In line with Guptas concept, Markley argues for using Type II Wild Cards that are high probability and high impact as seen by
experts if present trends continue, but low credibility for non-expert stakeholders . . . (Markley, 2011, p. 1079). An obvious
example is atmospheric carbon concentrations, which were recently recorded at 400 parts-per-milliona level which
predates humanity by millennia and foreshadows immense climatic changes (Biello, 2013). While there are many, including
a large majority of Americans, who deny anthropogenic climate change, the scientic consensus is just that, and one of the
earliest proclamations of the CO
climate problem comes from a report given to President Johnson in 1965 (Keith, 2000;
Royal Society, 2009). As such, Black Elephants are a sort of known unknown, as Rumsfeld puts it, especially as the chasm
between expert and public opinion adds complexity and uncertainty to the issue (Morris, 2014). Normally, events with high
postnormal potential require collective, global action as was the case in remediating 2014s Ebola pandemic. Black
Elephants capture the postnormal dynamic of the Extended Present, and they are decidedly contextual and ought to be
situated and/or articulated from more than one perspective, if only to capture the contradictions inherent to their
emergence. Finally, Black Elephants indicate that PNL is present, and perhaps dominant, within a particular system.
Nasim Nicholas Talebs popular notion of the Black Swancaptures the essence of the familiar future(s). In contrast to the
Black Elephants of the Extended Present, Black Swans in the Familiar Futures are not perceptible or articulated, even by
experts; they appear as outliersand come out of the blue,as Taleb notes, they are very fragile to miscalculation, with a
general severe underestimation mixed with an occasional severe overestimation(Taleb, 2007, p. 420). Black Swans are
fundamentally unknown unknowns; and, in contrast to Black Elephants, Black Swans can and might be positive, which is to
say that their impact might illuminate previously unimagined opportunities, which is what suits them for the complex
dynamics of the familiar future(s). Indeed, it has been argued that Black Swans are responsible for some of the greatest
societal changes of history. However, they can equally be negative and serve as a signal for emerging PNC or PNB. As such,
dealing with Black Swans requires a higher level of analysis.
Postnormal phenomena are not easy to foresee in the unthought future(s) but, of course, they are there. We represent the
postnormal potentiality of the unthought future(s) with Black Jellysh; like Black Elephants and Black Swans, Black Jellysh
are high impact, but they are normalphenomena driven toward postnormalcy by positive feedbackor increasing growth
leading toward systemic instability. Why jellysh? Climate change is having a dramatic effect on the world's water systems.
Increasing oceanic temperatures and acidity levels are creating perfect conditions for jellysh blooms, which have forced
shut downs at coastal power plants around the world, including nuclear reactors (Gershwin, 2013). Epitomizing the weirding
inherent to Unthought Futures, jellysh are also known for undermining the world's largest military and fostering political
unrest(Sweeney, 2013, p. 6). Demonstrating how small things can have a big impact driven by positive feedback, jellysh
blooms provide us with the ideal representation of postnormalcy in the unthought future(s).
In Rumsfelds accounting, Black Jellysh are unknown knownsthings we think we know and understand but which turn
out to be more complex and uncertain than we expect. In centering our concept on the escalation of jellysh blooms, we aim
to draw attention to scale: in Unthought Futures we need to examine small things and imagine their impact on larger scales
and upon multiple overlapping systems over time. Black Jellysh are all about how normal situations and events become
Recently, Frederick Grinnell penned a short editorial for Nature suggesting that Postnormal Science offer[s] a more coherent approach and permits a
more nuanced analysis than the current regulatory frameworkfor research with human participants (Grinnell, 2015, p. 257).
Fig. 6. [330_TD$DIFF]Ignorance and uncertainty matrix.
Z. Sardar, J.A. Sweeney / Futures 75 (2016) 113 9
postnormal; how they mutate through PNC by becoming interconnected, networked, complex and contradictory. In this
sense, Black Jellysh resonate deeply with Molitor's seminal work on emerging issues analysis, and we envision Black
Jellysh as decidedly catalytic eventsthat herald unthought possibilities, although we do not believe that theyall must and
follow the famed S-curve model of change (Molitor,1977), which is useful for charting the impacts of a single event or impact
but does not enhance our radar/sonar [ ...]foridentifying new elements in the territory that have either arisen since the
map was drawn, or which are in motion(Schultz, 2006, p. 7). As with de Jouvenels concept of futuribles,there is not time at
which we can enumerateBlack Jellysh exhaustively(de Jouvenel, 1967, p. 19).
Collectively, we call Black Elephants, Black Swans, and Black Jellysh the Menagerie of postnormal potentialities
(hereafter Menagerie), which aims to focus our attention on the postnormal potentiality of the 3Tssimultaneously. The
Menagerie, however, should not be seen as an assortment or range of purported wild cards. Writing on the critical
importance of introducing disruptive examples within foresight consultations, Barber contends, designing a Wildcard that
expands the client's perspectives will provide an essential framework that will enable many other foresight methods and
tools to be leveraged benecially(Barber, 2006, p. 79). While we believe that modeling postnormal potentialities are crucial
to robust, and ultimately useful, foresight, we shy away from using wild cardas this designation situates one squarely
within the connes of risk management.
If anything is true in PNT, it is that our command-and-control impulses will only
serve to heighten our ignorance and entrench uncertainty, and we cannot manage risk but rather our perceptions of
risksfrom inevitable surprises(Schwartz, 2001) to things that remain unthought. In PNT, the rules of the game have
changed such that all cards have the potentiality to be wild. As such, we must, as Miller contends, become Futures Literate
and enhance the sophistication of our anticipatory systemsby using the future to question, unpack, invent what is going on
and what is doable now(Miller, 2007, pp. 2728). As an ensemble aimed at challenging deeply held convictions, illuminating
entrenched contradictions, and enlivening novel considerations, we believe our Menagerie does just that.
6. Working with 3T
The 3T framework has three specic functions: to aid our exploration of alternative futures, with an emphasis onplurality
and postnormal potentialities; to critique existing projections and extrapolation; and to structure and shape policies that are
specically geared to navigating postnormal times. It helps if we frame a set of specic questions for each horizon:
6.1. Extended Present
What trends are embedded in the Extended Present?
What do we not know? (plain ignorance)
What are the surfaceuncertainties of the Extended Present?
What are the obvious dangers we are ignoring?
Are there elements of Extended Present displaying PNL?
What issues/things are people afraid, embarrassed, and/or uncomfortable to talk about? In other words, what Black
Elephants are staring us in the face?
What polylogues do we need to explore the impacts of potential Black Elephants?
6.2. Familiar Futures
What imaginings of the future and trends are pullingus toward this horizon?
What do these Familiar Futures reveal to us about what we might need to knowvincible ignorance?
What do we understand to be the shallow uncertainties of these Familiar Futures?
Are there elements of these futures with postnormal potentialities?
What do people think would never happen? In other words, what are the Black Swans?
What polylogues do we need to explore the impacts of potential Black Swans?
6.3. Unthought Futures
What axioms and assumptions are made into projections and forecasts on this horizon?
Can we consider these axioms and assumptions to be valid in the face of Deep Uncertainty and Invincible Ignorance?
What elements of the Unthought Futures contain postnormal potentialities?
What might quickly escalate into something with an extreme impact? In other words, are there any Black Jellysh showing
signs of PNC?
Are conditions ripe for PNB? What would need to happen to foster PNB?
What polylogues do we need to explore the impacts of potential Black Jellysh?
10 Z. Sardar, J.A. Sweeney / Futures 75 (2016) 113
Shaping policy to cope with PNT requires an appreciation of 3Ts spatio-temporal simultaneity. It also needs some
understanding of the ignorance and uncertainty associated with each horizon as well as an appreciation of the contextual
elements, which could be whole systems or subsystems, with the potential of going postnormalwhat we have identied as
Black Elephants, Black Swans and Black Jellysh. Any policy that aims to deal with future possibilities must take all this into
account. Collectively, the three varieties of ignorance and uncertainties and the Menagerie [337_TD$DIFF]points toward PNC: the process
through which normal things and events become chaotic and go postnormal.
To examine PNC, decision and policy makers have to study the complexity of a system, examine whether the system is
interconnected, whether it displays obvious contradictions, and identify potential avenues of positive feedback: if these four
factors are present, it is likely that the system will become postnormal. Within many systems, there are institutions and
structures that are already so complex and networked that they can go postnormal anytime, such as nancial markets and
infectious diseases. In general, PNC develops in three phases. In phase one, the system is complex and interconnected but
functions normally. That however does not mean that it will continue to function as usual. Any small change or perturbation
in the system, that can emerge by ignoring certain level of ignorance or overlooking uncertainty, can rapidly produce
consequences that cannot be controlled and usher postnormalcy. A Black Elephant or a Black Swan could also be present in
the system. In phase two, positive feedback emerges, and possibly a postnormal potentiality has been activated, and the
system begins to show signs of chaos. Phase three is reached when chaos takes over and the system becomes postnormal. We
need different policies to deal with each phase.
What can we do when a system is exhibiting PNC? In phase one, the best option is to simplify the system: complexity
condemns us to limited and uncertain knowledge and the need for simplication. In our globalized world, there are no closed
systems; all systems are open and open to interconnection. But even open systems have (unnecessary) interconnections that
can be reduced, which would lead to decrease in its complexity. Here we need to be aware of sensitive dependency: any
intervention such as a badly thought policy, protest, conict, act of gross injustice, degrading effect on the environment, can
accelerate the system toward postnormalcy. Moreover, we also need to identify specic elements of the system with
postnormal potentiality what are the Black Elephants in the room that have to be urgently addressed. In our globalized
world, all national governments are complex, interconnected systems, with Black Elephants sitting on the tipping point
toward postnormalcy. The recent attention toward migrant crises in Europe and Asia speak directly to this point. In phase
two, when positive feedback has kicked in, we need to pay attention to attractors enhancing the positive feedback. In any
dynamic system, there will be a number of factors policies, contradictions, campaigns, protests, conicts, digital media,
new technologies, social change, power shifts which create and enhance positive feedback and toward which the system
tends to evolve regardless of the initial conditions or rights and wrongs of a particular issue.
To prevent the system from going postnormal, we need to identify, and if possible block, the avenues of positive feedback,
unpack systemic interconnections, and identify the contradictions. There is a legitimate sense of urgency; but this shouldnot
mean an unthought reaction. The emphasis should be on deeper analysis, an integration of plurality and diversity, and on
quality. This requires both simplication as well as complexication at the same time. We need to complexifybecause
complex systems can only be handled by othercomplex systems (Keune, 2012). Moreover, all of this has tobe undertaken in
the context of vincible ignorance and shallow uncertainty. This requires, notes Stirling, a more rigorous approach to
assessing incomplete knowledge, avoiding the temptation to treat every problem as a risk nail, to be reduced by a
probabilistic hammer. Instead, experts should pay more attention to neglected areas of uncertainty as well as deeper
challenge of ambiguity and ignorance(Stirling, 2010). There is nothing we can really do when the system reaches phase
three except perhaps to continue to resolve the contradictions in the system and try to reduce positive feedback as much as
Shaping postnormal policy (hereafter PNP), that is, policy that enhances our ability to navigate PNT, is not about
management and control; these notions are redundant and even dangerous in PNT. Rather, PNP's aim is to be aware of our
ignorance in its three varieties, to understand the complexity and uncertainties involved, to anticipate postnormal
potentialities, and thus chart a viable, even if unpalatable, way forward. The function of a conventional policy is to guide
decisions to produce pre-dened rational outcomes, and the whole process assumes a linear cause and effect relation
between policy and outcome. PNP, on the other hand, does not offer the luxury of such an assumption, and its main function
is to deal with, and if possible prevent, PNC, to draw attention to the practical complexities that confront us not just with
essential questions but also fundamental challenges, and thus assist us in charting and navigating postnormal futures. While
we believe that there are a few examples of innovative policy initiatives, such as the extension of legal rights to the
Whanganui River (Isaksson, 2014, p. 52) or the proliferation of guardians of future generations, we have yet to see PNP
7. 3Ts place in the futures eld
While Futures Studies emphasizes alternatives, many methods of futures and foresight seldom incorporate pluralism and
diversity intrinsically in their frameworks, and few, if any, emphasize the dynamic and merging nature of futures
As with many of the other concepts developed in this paper, PNP is worthy of its own article-length inquiry. We certainly plan to do further research in
this area and will produce another paper focusing on this concept with case studies.
Z. Sardar, J.A. Sweeney / Futures 75 (2016) 113 11
possibilities, or highlight the ignorance and uncertainties we constantly confront. In response to this need, many
practitioners and researcher have concocted mash-upsby combining and layering different techniques to enrich outcomes
(Curry & Schultz, 2009, p. 58). The 3T framework offers just such a multi-layered approach that can serve as a useful tool of
critique and exploring critical futures, or for critical complexicationof alternative futures (Keune, 2012, p. 4). 3T can also
serve as an analytical tool for situating and contextualizing trends, emerging issues, and imaginings of the future(s),
including complex, horizon-specic forecasts, and we believe it can be complimentary to many, if not most, other futures
methods and research, including the Three Horizons approach.
From scenario modeling to visioning and backcasting to cross-matrix analysis, 3T can amplify how ignorance and
uncertainty are analyzed, framed, and/or mapped. We have already seen our Menagerie adopted by a U.K. government
foresight unit, who integrated it into their stakeholder engagement process. We have designed the 3T framework to be both
digestible and pluralistic; as such, it locates the future within the context of simultaneous alternatives that are both distant
and ever present. It emphasizes complexity and draws our attention to ignorance and uncertainty at each step. 3T aims to
consistently focus on the unthought, forcing us to ask associated questions, as well as challenging our assumptions, values,
and basic axioms. And nally, it attempts to provide a space for us to articulate postnormal potentialities Black Elephants,
Black Swans and Black Jellysh to focus on resistance, both in the sense of the contradictory resistance of a particular
context, not to see the challenges ahead, and the notion of building a resistance to such short-sightedness. Although adapting
to and taking advantage from coming changes is at the heart of foresight, we also believe that a critical aspect of 3Tcenters on
that which we must sustainand a host of indigenous and native peoples continue to embody this ethos.
In PNT, pushing the boundaries of plausibility requires a new kind of thinking coupled with creativity and imagination,
and we must be able to deal with complexity and incomplete knowledge, link what is compartmentalized, and tackle
interconnections and interdependence. As such, our approach must be both radical and modest to be realisticand ef cacious.
And creativity and imagination, as Montuori has argued, must move from the individualistic/atomistic view of modernity
toward a more contextual, collaborative, complex approach breaking with the mythology of genius and inspiration that
informs philosophy, ethics, and action (Montuori, 2011). This is the direction the 3T framework ultimately takes us toward
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Z. Sardar, J.A. Sweeney / Futures 75 (2016) 113 13
... Going one step further to transform this communal context in the discourse of metamodernism, it seems that metamodernism cannot limit the dialogue as occurring only between two elements (not necessarily opposite). Relationships in the metamodernist world would also demand the transition from dialogue to polylogue, as already suggested by (Sardar and Sweeney 2016). Coined for the first time by Julia Kristeva in 1977 in a book with the same name, polylogue is described as multiple logics, speeches, and existences, going beyond the dialogue, being aware that contradictions can only be transcended, not resolved. ...
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At this moment, humanity is confronting several global metacrises that demand a new image of science to deal with the complex problems associated with these crises. In addition to natural sciences and humanities, social sciences can become an equally efficient resource for use in this transformation if they succeed in constructing new frameworks congruent with the new reality. The purpose of this theoretical paper in the discourse of philosophy of science is to discern the features of the social sciences within a new paradigm of metamodernism. For the first time, the authors elaborate on the new principles of metamodernist philosophy and apply them to the ontology, epistemology, axiology, and methodology of the social sciences. The set of six transversal principles comprises the ontological principle of paradoxical simultaneity, caused by oscillation, epistemological principles of paradoxical understanding of truth and grand narratives, as well as metaxis-based thinking and dia/polylogue, axiological negotiation between rhizomatic and hierarchical social relations and values, and methodological pluralism. The last principle showcases the coexistence and interlinkage of previous stages of metamodernism. The application of these principles to the social sciences was designed from the perspectives of a specific discipline, inter/transdisciplinarity, and instrumental level of social practice. The paper concludes with a discussion of additional avenues for the development of metamodernism in the social sciences.
... No se resigna, sino que se preocupa por la proyección de futuros alternativos desde dimensiones fundamentales como los imaginarios y la participación comprometida. En este artículo nos planteamos profundizar en la relación entre la EpF y los imaginarios, entendiendo que el primer paso para la construcción de futuros alternativos es poder imaginarlos (Sardar & Sweeney, 2016;Slaughter, 1988). Para hacerlo, revisamos los principios de la EpF y los planteamientos ontológicos que la vinculan a la imaginación. ...
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En un momento histórico en el que el futuro se concibe como una amenaza, parece altamente relevante educar en la capacidad de imaginar futuros deseables. En esta línea, la Educación para el Futuro (EpF), de tradición anglosajona, representa una referencia de trabajo para responder a las imágenes negativas sobre la idea del provenir. Por otro lado, las competencias de cultura democrática definidas por el Consejo de Europa dan pie a la elaboración de un marco teórico que incluye la imaginación de futuros democráticos y sostenibles como uno de sus principales ejes conceptuales. Dada esta interjección teórica, el presente estudio analiza documentos oficiales de políticas públicas llevadas a cabo en ámbito ibérico, para examinar el tratamiento de la idea de futuro en los sistemas educativos. Concretamente, se han estudiado políticas públicas a tres niveles: leyes educativas estatales, currículos de Educación Primaria y políticas institucionales de formación docente, para indagar cuál es la presencia del eje conceptual sobre la imaginación de futuros en estos documentos. Las políticas públicas han sido analizadas mediante el método normativo de análisis de contenido, con una estrategia de muestreo sintáctico, calculando la frecuencia absoluta y relativa de unidades de análisis. Los resultados muestran que hay escasas referencias a la construcción del concepto de futuro en las políticas públicas, y dan a entender que se puede estar desaprovechando la oportunidad de educar para la imaginación de futuros deseables.
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The current state of inclusive education policy and activities in Mongolia Mongolia’s Long-Term Development Policy Vision 2050 and the Medium-Term Education Sector Development Plan aims to strengthen the education system to ensure equal access to quality education for all children. In order to implement the commitments made to the international community of Mongolia, such as the Sustainable Development Goal 4 and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the inclusive education policy is implemented by the Parliament and the Government. has arrived. These steps have laid the foundation for an equitable inclusion system tailored to Mongolia’s specific circumstances, raising public awareness, changing attitudes, and responding to the needs of children and youth with disabilities and other needs at the governmental level. However, due to repeated amendments to the Law on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and national programs and other legal documents, the integrity of the legal environment for education has been compromised, especially in some areas of the Law on Primary and Secondary Education. There is a need to address the issue of misunderstanding among education stakeholders. The researcher assessed the current state of equity policy, legal environment, and operations and concluded that it is “in the early stages”. We have identified the policy, legal environment reform, and steps needed to move forward to the next stage, “strengthening the system” and then “leading the way”.
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The aim of this study was to investigate the future of agricultural sector in region three of the national survey (Lorestan, Kermanshah, Ilam, and Hamedan provinces) in which scenario planning and system dynamics were used. The method was descriptive-analytical. The population consisted of researchers, managers, and experts in the field of agriculture. The data collection was done through library study, questionnaire, group panels, and expert panels. The data were analyzed through cross sectional and relational methods using MacMic and Nasim software. The findings showed that in the future of the agriculture in region 3 of the countries, 34 elements are playing roles. Among them, five have the most significant impact and the most uncertainty, including: commercialization, cutting the value chain, agricultural technologies, international commerce and market internationalization, expert and climate change. Based on the cross scenario analysis borrowed from two aspects of value chain of agricultural products and agricultural product technologies, four scenarios could be suggested for region 3: 1. agricultural sustainability, 2. increased pressure on natural resources, 3. agricultural unsustainability, and 4. non-economic agriculture. At the end, the condition of main agricultural indexes in each scenario are noted.
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This publication is the outcome of the International Scientific Conference: Discourses of Childhood and Social Education that took place in Warsaw on 2-3 of June 2022. It is co-financed from the conference grant from the Ministry of Education and Science “Excellent Science” DNK/SP/513983/2021 It is also co-financed by the Maria Grzegorzewska University in Warsaw and is an Educational Resource for the UNESCO/Janusz Korczak Chair International Summer School 2022 organized under the Patronage of the Polish Commission for UNESCO and UNICEF Polska.
This short essay reflects on the process of running a Causal Layered Analysis scenario exercise with the Institute for Professional Development at the Academy of Public Administration in Kazakhstan in collaboration with John Sweeney (from the then Qazaq Research Institute for Futures Studies). We worked with approximately 50 public administrators over a 3 day period, culminating in a Causal Layered Analysis scenario process that challenged and reviewed the national vision. The process surfaced fundamental dynamics and tensions in national identity and representation. The findings and process are detailed here.
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This article re-reads John 11:1-45 in light of post-normal times. It analyses aspects such as 4Ss, 3Cs, and 3Ts, in order to expound on the Johannine community situation and to understand the paradigmatic significance of John's narrative artistry within the contemporary context. The study elaborates on the speed with which the narrative develops from John 11:1-45; the scope of the story that extends from the local Bethany to universal realities; the scale of the story, as it changes directly between both the local and global situations, and the simultaneity of the event, as it initiates multiple interactions within the macro-narrative framework. The article attempts to explore the complexities, chaotic situations, and contradictions embedded within the narrative master plan of the story. In order to suggest a new way forward, the narrator develops her/his arguments by focusing on the three tomorrows of the story, as s/he provides several narrative clues about the extended present, the familiar futures, and the unthought futures. Using hope as a significant hermeneutic key within the Johannine community context, the narrator elaborates on the community's attempts to reframe their faith and praxes and their aspirations to embrace a new normal situation. The article concludes that the Johannine experience of a post-normal situation and the hope for a new normal can be considered a hermeneutic paradigm in the contemporary global scenario.
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The ‘post-normal science’ framework would make regulatory decisions about research in humans more effective, says Frederick Grinnell.
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Postnormal times (PNT) have been characterised by complexity, chaos and contradictions. But PNT theory has come under criticism for (allegedly) suggesting that ‘the world has entered an Omega phase’, using Alliterative Logic, and being western in nature. This paper answers some of the critics of PNT, provides further evidence of postnormal phenomenon, and examines the current trends that are taking us towards a postnormal ‘extended present’. Finally, it explores what PNT implies for futures studies and what it means to ‘be postnormal’.
Using the concept of Postnormal Times to investigate the Internet’s infectious connectivity, this study deploys a new foresight method to explore the emerging forces and issues pushing and weighing the Internet in the years to come. The Centre for Postnormal Policy and Futures Studies’ Three Tomorrows method explores temporally diffuse, yet interconnected, alternative future(s) scenarios through the lens of a single phenomenon or thematic. In this instance, affect is the locus of inquiry. While affect has received greater attention in philosophical and theoretical circles, it remains an understudied concept in Futures Studies and within scenarios for the future of the Internet specifically. Wielding black swans, black elephants, and black jellyfish—a new concept for emerging issues analysis—to seed scenarios for and within the context of postnormal times, this chapter uses the Three Tomorrows method to construct and extrapolate the concept of infectious connectivity, which aims to understand the ways with which Internet-related factors and forces can and might affect our all-too-human bodies.
This book presents a global reintrepretation of the Cratylus, which bears on the relationship of language to knowledge, a topic that has never ceased to be of central philosophical importance. It is designed to be accessible to anyone interested either in Plato or in the history of linguistic thought. The main text does not presuppose prior expertise in Plato or knowledge of Greek; such scholarly aspects are confined to the footnotes.
Among the many problems raised by political ecology is one of language. The distribution between what is inert object and what is made of talking subjects does not do justice to science nor to literature—nor, of course, to politics. Hence, an effort to describe a relation with agency that focuses not on their characters (humans or nonhumans, animated or deanimated) but rather on their common source. This source is recognized here—both semiotically and then ontologically—as a “metaphorphic zone.” It is just such a common articulation that could allow speaking with and about former “facts of nature” in a different way, a way better adjusted to the new political situation.