ArticlePDF Available

“Learning, the Future, and Complexity: An Essay on the Emergence of Futures Literacy”

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


Futures Literacy is the capacity to design and implement processes that make use of anticipation, generally with the purpose of trying to understand and act in a complex emergent context. This article examines the potential of Futures Literacy to contribute to the realisation of a better balance between learning that is shaped by the supposition that what needs to be learned is knowable in advance, what I will label ‘push’ education, and ‘pull’ learning, that starts from the discovery of not knowing something, initiating the search for hypotheses, experiments, and evidence that eventually lead to understanding. Insufficient Futures Literacy impedes the expansion our anticipatory activities beyond preparation and planning, with the result that at both the individual and institutional levels it is difficult to find the motivation and capability to undertake and organise learning that goes beyond ‘push’ education, or what people ‘need’ to know now in order to get: a ‘good job’, be ‘good citizens’, etc., in the future. As a result humanity may be less able to embrace complexity or pursue a diversification approach to resilience.
Learning, the Future, and Complexity. An Essay
on the Emergence of Futures Literacy
Riel Miller
The claims made in this article start from six simple propositions:
The first proposition is that the phenomena that make up the emergent
present can be divided into two very basic categories, those that display conti-
nuity and those that display discontinuity. Phenomena that repeat from one
moment to the next are characterised by continuity. Phenomena that are dif-
ferent display discontinuity or manifest a difference between a previous
moment and one later on.
The second proposition is that there are different kinds of discontinuity or
change, some that follow on from the past, like a child growing taller over
time, others that are inherently unknowable in advance, such as the invention
and implications of the atomic bomb, birth control pill or Internet.
The third proposition is that humans use sensing and sense-making capabil-
ities to identify and distinguish the continuity and discontinuity of phenom-
ena in the world around them.
The fourth proposition is that part of the human capacity to identify and give
meaning to continuity and discontinuity arises from the ability to use our
imaginations, in a variety of ways, to anticipate what does not yet exist. The
always imaginary future plays a key role in being able to distinguish and tell
stories about different kinds of continuity and discontinuity.
The fifth proposition is that the anticipatory systems and processes that
enable humans to think about the imaginary future influence sensing and
sense-making in ways that can make it easier or harder to discern or invent
different kinds of discontinuity.
The sixth proposition is that the basic learning cycle starts from the appre-
hension of forms of discontinuity or something that is unfamiliar or inexplica-
ble, the realisation of not knowing.
All these propositions form the foundation for the claim in this article that a specific
change in the conditions of change, the diffusion of Futures Literacy, is one way of
improving the capacity of individuals and organisations to: a) detect and give mean-
ing to discontiniuty, and b) thereby become more capable of initiating learning
processes (undertaking research of all kinds, from the banal to the sublime).
Put negatively, today’s dominant anticipatory systems and processes impede the
identification and invention of discontinuity (difference/change) and hence the ini-
tiation of learning. The lack of Futures Literacy (or the widespread state of Futures
Illiteracy) helps to explain why it is so difficult to achieve a better balance between
learning that is shaped by the supposition that what needs to be learned is knowable
in advance, what I will label ‘push’ education, and ‘pull’ learning that starts from
the discovery of not knowing something, initiating the search for hypotheses,
experiments, and evidence that eventually lead to understanding. Lacking Futures
C2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
European Journal of Education, Vol. 50, No. 4, 2015
DOI: 10.1111/ejed.12157
Literacy, we are significantly less able to expand our anticipatory activities beyond
preparation and planning. As a result, it is difficult to find the motivation and capa-
bility to undertake and organise learning that goes beyond ‘push’ education that
rests on the presumption that we can know the future or impose today’s idea of the
future on the future and therefore know now what people ‘need’ to know in order
to find a ‘good job’, be ‘good citizens’, etc., in the future.
Using the Future: an anticipatory systems and processes perspective
The term ‘using the future’ is somewhat awkward in the English language and not
yet in common usage. Most people do not think of using the future as they might
use a hammer to sink a nail or use a car to take a trip. Furthermore, strictly speak-
ing, the future does not exist like a hammer or a car; it cannot take material form.
In this sense, it is more than rare, it is non-existent. Yet if we think of the future as
anticipatory systems, processes, and assumptions, then the non-existent later-than-
now is all around us. For instance, evolutionary processes have introduced non-
conscious anticipatory systems into trees. A tree cannot ‘know’ the future, but it is
an organism that, in functional terms, integrates anticipatory assumptions that
cause the shedding of leaves as winter approaches.
Human immune systems engage in a form of anticipation when the detection of
a potential threat, even one that turns out not to be a danger, provokes greater pro-
duction of white blood cells. Pedestrians deploy anticipatory systems and processes
when they cross the street. Indeed, calculating the trajectory of an oncoming bus in
order to decide when and at what speed to cross the street engages such familiar
anticipatory systems and processes that we do not even notice them. Similarly, no
one pays much attention to anticipatory systems when they plan to go to a movie,
easily thinking through when, with whom and how to get there on time. Again and
again, anticipatory systems and processes are largely taken for granted as we build
houses to protect ourselves from a range of potential threats or plant crops in the
hope of having food for next year.
Even less remarked is that these everyday uses of the imagined future, central
for our survival and viscerally connected to our emotional status (hope, fear, etc.),
generally engage only two out of three basic kinds of conscious human anticipation.
For the most part, humans’ conscious anticipatory systems and processes, including
everything from horoscopes and weather forecasts to bookmaker’s odds and the dis-
count rates used by an economist to estimate current value, belong to only two out
of three basic categories of conscious anticipation (please note that, unless other-
wise stated, the remainder of the article uses the term anticipation to refer to con-
scious human anticipation, which remains just a sub-category of all the different
kinds of anticipatory systems and processes).
The first two are preparation and planning, or what might be considered efforts
to: a) be ready for identifiable or known contingent events or risks
, and b) discern
a target and the optimal path to the target so as to impose today’s vision of tomor-
row on tomorrow (colonize the future). Both these kinds of anticipation are closed
in the sense that it is impossible to prepare for something if it is not knowable
planning requires making assumptions or fixing the goals, means and rules that will
be used to construct the plan. There is, however, a third general category of antici-
patory systems and processes that targets the discovery or invention of the unknow-
able. Such anticipation is pertinent for novel phenomena or what might be called
514 European Journal of Education
C2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
discontinuity. These anticipatory systems and processes enhance the capacity to
make sense of change (difference) in the emergent present.
This third category of anticipatory systems and process offers humans an avenue
to use their consciousness to sense (invent, discover) and make sense (explain, tell a
story) of differences such as discontinuity in the present. New phenomena happen all
the time, at many different levels, from inventions that are generalisable such as the
printing press, electricity, penicillin and urbanisation to the unique or locally meaning-
ful realisation that something is new here and now. Initially, such changes are often
invisible, even unnamed. Discontinuity, the emergence of unknown unknowns is often
rendered invisible or unimaginable because past futures – the imaginary futures gener-
ated in the past – that we use in the present do not include these new phenomena and
therefore we do not try to understand or even name what was unknowable moments
before. By becoming more adept at expanding the futures we imagine beyond the con-
straints of both probabilistic thinking and agency as preparation/planning we can use
our ability to detect and invent, sense and make-sense of the ‘new’ in ways that enable
a greater appreciation of the constant differences that emerge in our creative universe.
Futures Literacy (FL) is a capability built on an understanding of the nature and
attributes of anticipatory systems and processes. A Futures Literate person has the
ability to select and deploy different anticipatory systems and processes, depending
on aims and context. This skill can assist in overcoming some of the confusion and
ignorance that arise when the future is reduced to a discoverable target for the pur-
poses of preparation and /or planning. FL exposes the anticipatory assumptions and
conceptions of the relationship of action to consequences, human agency, that shape
the imaginary futures that human consciousness is able to conjure. As a result, it
brings greater clarity and depth to sensing and sense-making in the present. FL is
not to be conflated with decision-making, since the futures we imagine first play a
role in what we see and only once we have searched or identified the menu can we
move on to making choices. Because FL helps to make sense of emergent change in
the present it is a critical pre-condition, in terms of both content and confidence, for
taking both a more improvisational and spontaneous approach to learning, it is a
way of enhancing our capacity to be free.
FL provides an ability to take into account all three categories of anticipatory
systems and processes. One of the implications is an enhanced capacity to seek and
design learning systems that go beyond education ‘push’, as per most of the formal
educational curricula that aim to prepare young people for what is expected to hap-
pen and plan the future to learning provoked by the pull of more easily and continu-
ously discovering or inventing difference (not knowing) that is the impulse for
seeking to know. Through a better grasp of the role of anticipatory systems and
processes in the search for difference FL enhances our ability to appreciate the
unknowable as it emerges
. From this perspective, it can help to establish a better
balance between push and pull because it enables a more diversified view of human
agency, one that enlarges what it means to exercise our capacity to be free. The
next challenge, posed in a way that parallels the largely solved problem of how to
acquire the ability to read and write, is how to become futures literate?
Futures Literacy and the Microscope of the 21
Let us start with two thought experiments and a very brief true story. The first
thought experiment runs as follows. One day you meet an old friend in the street.
Riel Miller 515
C2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
After exchanging the usual ‘how are you?’ and ‘nice to see you’, she starts to whis-
per, acting as if she was telling you a valuable secret. But what she is telling you
seems pretty incredible, even a bit crazy. She claims that there are immense resour-
ces all around us, but that we cannot see them. Furthermore, she asserts that there
is an easy way to see these resources and put them to good use. You exchange a few
more pleasantries and then you walk away scratching your head. Muttering under
your breath, ‘What the heck?? What is this treasure I’ve been missing? How come I
don’t know how to see it?’ Then you just conclude that she has lost it and that it is
best to forget all about her strange ideas.
For the second thought experiment, imagine that you are illiterate – unable to
read. All around you are amazing resources in the form of written texts. Someone
might tell you that it is not all that hard to learn to read and that if you did know
how to read there would be amazing resources at your disposal, resources that
would help you to navigate in everyday life, find new opportunities and share
what you know with others. In a society of illiterates, with few books and few
people able to read, you might come to the same conclusion as the thought
experiment above – what is this crazy notion that there are hidden resources, easy
to acquire, all around us. Nonsense. But if you are illiterate in a literate society,
with the written word all around, the opposite conclusion makes the most sense:
I must learn to read.
Now, a very brief history of the microscope. When the microscope was first
invented around 1670 it offered an amazing surprise. Hidden in a drop of water,
invisible to the naked eye, were all sorts of creatures. People exclaimed: how
amusing, how strange! Some 200 years later, after many breakthroughs in how to
conduct research and many demonstrations of the vast power of research to alter
people’s lives, the connection was made between the creatures seen in the drop of
water and the infections killing patients in hospitals. Doctors started to wash their
hands. Terrific, but it had taken 200 years to make sense of the invisible things
the microscope made visible. Today, a new microscope is being invented,
deployed, and tested. Like the microscope of old, it renders the invisible visible,
and like many scientific tools before, it takes time to fully grasp its utility. In this
case, the tool is collective intelligence knowledge creation processes. What I call
KnowLabs for short (see Box). KnowLabs take many and varied forms and are
being designed and implemented in many parts of the world by a wide range of
pioneers and practitioners. All these processes share a common operational goal:
to tap into the knowledge of a specific group of people at a specific time and
place in order to sense and make sense of phenomena of all kinds (see list of
topics in the box). The mechanism used to tap into this collective intelligence is
conversation and the catalyst or fuel that turns the heuristic is the challenge of
sensing and making sense of some aspect of the world around us. People bring
tacit and unarticulated thoughts together with the capacity to invent and negotiate
variables and meaning.
There are similarities with ‘crowd sourcing’ mechanisms, such as stock markets,
polling and Delphi techniques that collect and give meaning to diverse views. But
the difference is that the granularity or localism of KnowLabs points to a different
purpose and hence a different way of working. KnowLabs are about time-space
specificity, the uniqueness of every moment and place – the amazing richness of the
ephemeral. Here, collective intelligence is yoked to the elucidation of the here and
now, what is gone and no more soon after. This may seem futile and the opposite
516 European Journal of Education
C2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Futures Literacy KnowLab
FL KnowLabs are a specific example of the more general tool for harness-
ing collective intelligence to generate descriptions of reality. The FL
KnowLab uses anticipatory systems and processes as ways to structure
and direct a conversation about a topic (Miller, 2006, 2007, 2011).
Experimentation over the last decade aimed at testing designs and out-
comes of Futures Literacy Knowledge Laboratories (FL KnowLabs) has
demonstrated the effectiveness of collective intelligence knowledge crea-
tion processes designed with an understanding of anticipatory systems in
generating new questions (making sense of difference). This is not the
place to present the design principles and specific operational rules that
shape the customisation of the FL KnowLabs (UNESCO, 2011), however
the point of departure is indicative: The fundamental source of data in
intentional human anticipation is the descriptive model and vocabulary,
the assumptions and variables that enable us to consciously imagine some-
thing that does not yet exist – the future. Thus, the easiest way to map
and make sense of human anticipatory systems and processes is to ask
people to describe the future. To do so, they have no choice but to reveal
the assumptions and variables that allow them to generate an imaginary
later than now. Their ways of using the future are made explicit. This is
the first step to becoming Futures Literate.
In 2013 and 2014, as part of UNESCO’s role in advancing knowledge
creation, FL KnowLabs were conducted around the world (UNESCO,
2014). The aim of this project was to reveal anticipatory systems and
processes in different contexts and work on testing and refining the FL
KnowLab design so that it could be used easily and effectively to build
FL capabilities and better understand the emergent attributes of local
20-21 June 2013, Paris: Knowlab Design Test Session “Scoping the
Know-Lab: Tomorrow’s Knowledge Creation Microscope” A Primer
and Images
June, 2013, Baku: Scoping Global Anticipatory Capacities
11-12 July 2013, Brasilia: The Future of Science
15 July 2013, Sao Paolo: Changing the Way Universities Use the
19 July 2013, Chicago: The Future of Futurists
21-22 October 2013, Oslo: Innovation as Learning, Knowing as Learn-
ing, Knowing as Science: Imagining a Universal Innovation Society in
25-26 November 2013, Bogota: Using the future to think about local
labor markets
28-29 November 2013, Rio de Janeiro: Imagining the Future of Science
in Society
13-14 January 2014, Paris: Imagining the Future of the Transition from
“Youth” to “Adult”
Riel Miller 517
C2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
of what is considered the purpose of knowledge creation and the tools we apply to
creating knowledge. But it is the critical 180 degree flip needed to hone our capacity
to appreciate novelty through a tool that makes it easier to make sense of specificity
– the difference and repetition of every moment. This is the microscope of the 21
century and, even as we deploy it, we hardly know what it is good for.
Convergence: bringing together anticipatory systems and processes with
Collective Intelligence Knowledge Creation
Two convergent innovations are occurring ‘in the wild’, meaning developments are
emerging from the actions of daily life without being embedded in pre-existing
rationalities or institutions/norms. People are inventing and exploring both anticipa-
tory systems-processes and collective intelligence knowledge creation processes (the
tool for rendering the invisible visible) which makes the specific, rather than the
general, more discoverable, meaningful. Taken together, these two breakthroughs
can transform humanity’s relationship to reality, rebalancing our attention, long
dominated by the search for norms, standards, scale and common denominators. It
is not that statistics, averages, samples and mass-products are ‘bad’, they are just
incomplete and, if too dominant, become a source of poverty in our appreciation of
the richness of the now because difference is harder to discern or invent. Brought
together Futures Literacy and the microscope of the 21
century can facilitate the
discovery or imagining of the meaning of novelty – the spontaneously invented steps
or notes that enable the inspiration of the steps and notes of improvisational dance
or jazz.
20-21 January 2014, Freetown: Youth & Rites of Passage in Sierra
5-6 February 2014, Munich: Imagining the Future of Sports in Society
27-28 March 2014, Paris: Inhabiting Planet Earth 2100: Beyond Cities?
26 April – 1 May 2014, Calceta, Bahia de Caraquez, Monta: A Series
of Future Literacy Knowledge Labs in Ecuador
2-3 May 2014, Rangoon: Addressing the future of education in
21-24 May 2014, Laoag City: Resilient Cities, Brighter Futures -A
Forum-Workshop on Anticipatory Thinking and Strategic Foresight
Methods for Sustainable City Futures
26-28 May 2014, Johannesburg – All Africa Future Forum
4-5 June 2014, Ottawa: The Future of Innovation Ecosystems in the
Public Sector
FL KnowLabs as action-research experiments generated: a) significant
amounts of data on anticipatory networks and systems, providing impor-
tant evidence regarding the theory and practice of the emerging Discipline
of Anticipation; b) valuable insights on how to best design and adapt the
generic FL KnowLab architecture – as a research-action method – to local
settings, and c) capacity at the local level and amongst participants in the
UNESCO global foresight network on how to be more effective at using
the future for decision making.
518 European Journal of Education
C2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
At present, this hypothesis may seem far-fetched and perhaps incomprehensible.
Lacking the ability to read, to be Futures Literate, we are like an illiterate in an illit-
erate society who is told about the treasures of being able to read, but we cannot
even understand the promise. There first needs to be a change in the conditions of
change, a chicken and egg problem, how to convince the illiterate of the utility of lit-
eracy before the society as a whole becomes literate? As for the microscope of the
century, we are still stuck with an old way of seeing the utility of collective intel-
ligence knowledge creation processes – the search for the common denominators of
mass society. Lacking these two ‘breakthroughs’, we keep treating uncertainty as an
enemy and complexity as a curse. The improvisational leg of a two-legged approach
to reality fails us and we hop along on the deterministic thinking of preparation and
Five Observations by Way of Conclusion
The claim made in this article that Futures Literacy combined with the microscope
of the 21
century enable more learning may be easier to understand by taking into
account five observations.
Beyond Statistics: The first observation is that we are currently pre-occupied with
generality, scale and statistics based on variables that have common denominators.
As a result, there is relatively little interest in specificity and information that do not
easily find a common denominator that enables statistical collection, aggregation
and comparison. However, much of complex emergent reality, generated by the
fact that the information around us is always time-place specific, does not fit into
the powerful but mostly reductionist point-of-view of statistical descriptions of real-
ity. Consequently, processes for observing and describing time-place specific infor-
mation seem like bad statistical approaches, with poor samples and no common
denominator; useless for generalisation, bench-marking or scaling up for mass solu-
tions. Nevertheless, as noted in the next observation, alternatives are emerging.
Epistemology of the Unique (or how to sense and make-sense of different kinds of dis-
continuity): The second observation is that we are witnessing a proliferation, world-
wide, of experimentation with collective intelligence knowledge creation processes
(CIKC) (Scharmer,2007, Inayatullah, 2004, 2008, Hassan, (2014)) that are effec-
tive in revealing ephemeral specificity – time/place unique sensing and sense-
making. This is occurring in the face of the still dominant belief (noted above) that
the best and most important way to describe reality from the pointofview of deci-
sion making is by using models and variables that provide common denominators
that can be aggregated and compared across space and time. Evidence is mounting
that CIKC processes, despite often being poorly designed and misused due to a fix-
ation with seeking and describing generalities, do generate, detect and give meaning
to conjunctural emergence of both continuity and discontinuity. The power of this
‘microscope of the 21
Century, is that it gives practical expression to the desire to
grasp and make use of specificity, time-space uniqueness and context – rooted in an
interest and need to respect the locally or contextually distinctive past and present.
Enlarging Agency: The third observation is that the dominant view of agency
today is typically constrained to the search for cause-effect interventions – where
what is done now has consequences later on. Today’s ‘make-a-difference’ obses-
sion, rooted in the immodest heroic model of leadership and revolution (humans
are like gods, they engineer the future), depends on the anticipatory systems and
Riel Miller 519
C2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
processes for determining targets in the future and mapping the best way to get
there. This preoccupation with causal or instrumentalist approaches to creating or
imposing today’s idea of the future on tomorrow largely crowds-out non-causal per-
spectives (or what has been called, long ago, ‘not-doing’). In effect, this results in a
lack of interest in spontaneity and improvisation; as well as a bias towards actions
that promise, through path dependency or sunk cost constraints, the ‘colonisation’
of the future. Choices that are ‘uncertainty proof’ have the attributes of pyramids
and monuments that last thousands of years, demonstrating that today’s ideas can
be imposed on tomorrow. To this kind of physical proof of the power of planning it
is worth adding the dominant form of narrative about the past, the story of the her-
oes who knew what they were doing and won the day. Again, this reduces interest
in mechanisms for sensing and making-sense of unknown unknowns as such phe-
nomena emerge. Focused on inventing or implementing the genius plan that will
impose today’s idea of tomorrow on tomorrow there is less interest in developing
the skills that underpin the capacity for spontaneity needed to take advantage of the
richness of difference: specificity and novelty (unknown unknowns) in the present.
Futures Literacy or How to Live With Complexity and Love It: The fourth observation
is that we can take advantage of the fact that we live in an anticipatory universe, which
is chock-a-block with anticipatory systems and processes, in order to become Futures
Literate. This is a learning-by-doing strategy that invites people to think about the
future in structured ways that help reveal the nature and functioning of anticipation.
Using the future to understand how we use the future. Certainly there are other ways
to learn about a subject, but since anticipation enters into so much of what we do and
is so central to both psychological and physical well-being, it helps to take a rather
practical, solution oriented approach. Furthermore, this strategy dovetails nicely with
the need for a pragmatic, user oriented response to the first three observations regard-
ing: the dominance of statistics in the way we describe the world, the lack of familiarity
with tools for grasping the unique, and the tunnel vision of action hero agency.
Not-doing: The fifth observations is that an old ‘solution’ now seems very perti-
nent. Lao Tsu (1972) offered insights into the meaning and power of ‘not-doing’ in
the Tao Te Ching some 2500 years ago. Now, in 2015, not-doing takes on new sig-
nificance because it offers a practical way to understand and act on some of the key
discoveries of the 20
century. What I am referring to is a long and somewhat
familiar list of scientific advances that help us to better appreciate the richness of
reality, ranging from quantum physics and mathematical category-theory to theo-
ries of complexity, reflexivity and Senian freedom as a capability (Sen, 1999, 2009).
In effect, after a long period during which much of humanity sought various forms
of certainty, including ‘scientific certainty’, there is a new problem – how to inte-
grate the open creativity of the universe into our thinking. Close to 30 years ago,
Edgar Morin put the challenge this way: ‘We are still blind to the challenge of com-
plexity...This blindness is part of our barbarism. It makes us realize that we are still
in the era of barbaric thought. We remain in the pre-history of the human spirit.
Only the capacity to embrace complexity will allow us to civilize our thinking.’
Finally, more as an invitation to further reflection than as a conclusion, I want
to point out that a ‘push’ approach to learning, rooted in the planning and prepara-
tion roles attributed to education, may bias human decision making towards
choices that generate excessive path dependency and undermine a more robust
resilience strategy – diversification. To be very speculative, this could ultimately
reduce the survival chances of the species. Or to condense down the hypothesis –
520 European Journal of Education
C2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
education, as it is practiced today, dominated by aspirations to prepare and plan for
the future inhibit the development and acquisition of Futures Literacy and may
therefore be inimical to humanity’s capacity to understand complexity in all its rich-
ness, undermining diversification and diversification strategies for continued
Riel Miller: or
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author in a private capacity
and do not in any way represent the positions of UNESCO or any other organisa-
tion or institution.
1. Such contingent events are usually characterised as being from low to high
probability, low to high impact and can be incorporated into probabilistic
anticipatory systems by making a series of assumptions that close the model.
Yet, strictly speaking, even a trend as probable as the sun rising tomorrow is
only an assumption and our ability to know what will happen under the sun
remains non-existent, unless it turns out that time machines can be built.
2. The exception, of course, is the topic of this article: preparation that enhances
our capacity to make sense of the unknowable when it happens. This distinc-
tion is sometimes referred to as the difference between risk and uncertainty
(North) and it is one of the primary contentions of this article that preparing
for the unknowable involves significantly different anticipatory systems and
processes than closed system risk estimation.
3. Novelty can be entirely ‘local’ in the sense of being a new or ‘ah ha’ moment
for anyone, anywhere. This idea of novelty starts from where consciousness is
at, the couplet of realisation that ‘I do not know, so I seek to know’.
4. UNESCO will publish a book on the subject: Transforming the Future: Anticipa-
tion in the 21
Century, in 2016.
5. ‘Nous sommes encore aveugles au proble
`me de la complexit
e. (...) Cet aveu-
glement fait partie de notre barbarie. Il nous fait comprendre que nous
sommes toujours dans l’e
`re barbare des id
ees. Nous sommes toujours dans la
ehistoire de l’esprit humain. Seule la pens
ee complexe nous permettrait de
civiliser notre connaissance’. Edgar Morin 2005, p.24.
AALTONEN, M. (Ed) (2010) Robustness: anticipatory and adaptive human systems
(ISCE Publishing).
ADAM, B. (2009) Cultural future matters: an exploration in the spirit of Max
Weber’s methodological writings, Time and Society, 18, Issue 7.
BELL, W. (1997a) Foundations of Futures Studies: history, purposes, knowledge
(Human Science for a New Era), Vol.1(Transaction Publishers, 3
Riel Miller 521
C2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
BELL, W. (1997b) Foundations of Futures Studies: values, objectivity and the good
society (Human Science for a New Era), Vol. 2 (Transaction Publishers, 3
BERGER, G. (1957) Sciences humaines et pr
evision, La Revue des Deux Mondes,3.
BERGSON, H. (1946) The Creative Mind (New York, The Greenwood Press).
CHERMACK,T.J.&JOHN, S. W. (2006) Scenario planning as a development
and change intervention, International Journal of Agile Systems and Manage-
ment, 1, pp. 46–59.
CHERMACK, T. J. (2006) Disciplined imagination: building scenarios and build-
ing theories, Futures, 39, pp. 1–15.
CURRY,A.&SCHULTZ, W. (2009) Roads less travelled: different methods, dif-
ferent futures, Journal of Future Studies, 13, pp. 35–60.
DATOR, J. (2006) Alternative future of K-waves, in: T. DEVEZAS (Ed) Kondra-
tieff Waves, Warfare and World Security (Amsterdam, IOS Press, pp.
DEJOUVENEL, H. (2004) An Invitation to Foresight (Paris, Futuribles).
DELANDA, M. (2006) A new philosophy of society: assemblage theory and social
complexity, Continuum.
DG RESEARCH (2010) European Forward Looking Activities EU Research in
Foresight and Forecast Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities List of Activities
2007-2010 (Brussels, Directorate General for Research, European Union).
FULLER,T.&LOOGMA, K. (2009) Constructing futures: a social constructivist
perspective on foresight methodology, Futures, 41, pp. 71–79.
FUMEE 3 Futures Meetings on the Ontology of Anticipatory Systems, http://fumee.
Handbook of Technology Foresight - Concepts and Practice. PRIME series
(Edward Elgar).
HINES,A.&BISHOP, P. (2006) Thinking about the Future: guidelines for strategic
foresight (Washington, Social Technologies).
INAYATULLAH, S. (2009) Questioning scenarios, Journal of Futures Studies, 13,
pp. 75–80.
INAYATULLAH, S. (2008) Six pillars: futures thinking for transforming, Foresight,
10, pp. 4–21.
INAYATULLAH, S. (Ed) (2004) The Causal Layered Analysis (CLA) Reader: theory
and case studies of an integrative and transformative methodology (Tapei, Tam-
kang University Press).
LAO TSU (1972) Tao Te Ching (Vintage Press).
MILLER, R. (2006) From Trends to Futures Literacy: reclaiming the future. Centre
for Strategic Education, Seminar Series Papers, No. 160 (Melbourne, Aus-
tralia, December).
MILLER, R. (2007) Futures Literacy: a hybrid strategic scenario method,
Futures: The Journal of Policy, Planning and Future Studies, 39, pp. 341–362.
MILLER, R. (2011) Futures Literacy. Embracing complexity and using the
future, Ethos, 10, pp. 23–28.
MILLER, R. (2012) Anticipation: the discipline of uncertainty, in: A. CURRY
(Ed) The Future of Futures (Houston, Association of Professional Futurists).
MILLER,R.&POLI, R. (Eds) (2010) Anticipatory Systems and the Philosophical
Foundations of Futures Studies, special issue of Foresight, 12(3).
522 European Journal of Education
C2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
MORIN, E. (1990) Introduction
a la pens
ee complexe (ESF).
OGILVY, J. (2010) Strategy and intentionality, World Futures, the Journal of
General Evolution, 66, pp. 73–102.
OGILVY, J. (2002) Creating Better Futures: scenario planning as a tool for a better
tomorrow (Oxford University Press).
POLI, R. (2010) The many aspects of anticipation, Foresight, 12, pp. 7–17.
POLI, R. (2011) Steps toward an explicit ontology of the future, Journal of
Futures Studies, 16, pp. 67–78.
POLI, R. (Ed) (2013a) The theoretical basis of Futures Studies, On the Horizon, 21.
POLI, R. (2013b) Overcoming divides, On the Horizon, 21, pp. 3–14.
ROSEN, R. (1985) Anticipatory Systems. Philosophical, Mathematical and Methodo-
logical Foundations (Oxford, Pergamon Press) (2
ed Springer 2012).
ROSEN R. (2000) Essays on Life Itself (New York, Columbia University Press).
ROSSEL, P. (2010) Making anticipatory systems more robust, Foresight, 12, pp.
SARDAR, Z. (2010a) The namesake: futures; futures studies; futurology; futuris-
tic; foresight—what’s in a name?, Futures, 42, pp. 177–184.
SARDAR, Z. (2010b) Welcome to postnormal times, Futures, 42, pp. 435–444.
SCHARMER, O. (2007) Theory U: leading from the future as it emerges (Berrett-
Koehler Publishers).
SEN, A. (1999) Development as Freedom (Anchor Books).
SEN, A. (2009) The Idea of Justice (Belknap Press, Harvard University Press).
SLAUGHTER, R. (2004) Futures Beyond Dystopia: creating social foresight (Falmer
TUOMI, I. (2010) Foresight aware strategic management, in: The FOR-UNI
Blueprint: a blueprint for organizing foresight in universities (Romania, Execu-
tive Agency for Higher Education and Research Funding Romania).
ULANOWICZ, R. E. (2009) A Third Window: natural life beyond Newton and
Darwin (Tempelton Foundation Press).
UNESCO (2014) Networking to Improve Global/Local Anticipatory Capacities – A
Scoping Exercise.
VAN DER HEIJDEN, K. (2005) Scenarios: the art of strategic conversation (John
Wiley & Sons, 2
WACK, P. (1985) Scenarios: unchartered waters ahead, Harvard Business Review,
September–October, pp. 73–89.
WALTON, J. S. (2008) Scanning beyond the horizon: exploring the ontological
and epistemological basis for scenario planning, Advances in Developing
Human Resources, 10, p. 147.
WILKINSON, A. (2009) Scenario practices: in search of a theory, Journal of
Futures Studies, 13, pp. 107–114.
Riel Miller 523
C2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
... The word "use" refers not to knowing the future but to thinking about it in a useful way (see, e.g., Facer & Sriprakash, 2021;Mangnus et al., 2021;Poli, 2021;UNESCO, n.d.; see also Page, 2002); after all, the future and its uses exist in the present through our thoughts, beliefs and subsequent actions. Thus, FL relates to the capacity to understand "anticipatory assumptions", the role of action in the present, and how and why various futures are imagined (Miller, 2015). ...
... As one example, to act to improve our circumstances, we must first have the "capacity to aspire" (Appadurai, 2004). FL involves both systematic and valuebased thinking, but also creativity, imagining discontinuities and embracing the sense of "not knowing" as opposed to resignation when faced with unknowns (Miller, 2015;UNESCO, n.d.). Future discontinuities may include newly arising or previously unnoticed possibilities as well as new risks -issues extremely relevant to sociotechnical change, as argued in chapter 4. ...
... These holistic goals, reminiscent of the Bildung tradition (Fellenz, 2016;Sjöström et al., 2017), root futures thinking in a broader educational philosophy of "the individual in society" (Nordenbo, 2002, p. 346), analogously to Vision III scientific literacy (Sjöström et al., 2017). Crucially, to recall Miller's (2007Miller's ( , 2015 definition of FL, educated futures thinking uses the future to guide action. As Häggström & Schmidt (2021) argue, educationally promoting FL means promoting sustainability, critical thinking, justice and agency. ...
Full-text available
My dissertation addresses the roles of science and technology in young people’s images of the future and the potential of future-oriented science education in developing their futures thinking. In my dissertation I analyse students’ perceptions of future (technological) change and technological agency for the future and how these relate to scientific literacy. I also address how science and technology education can help develop these perceptions. In this manner, the dissertation integrates ideas from science education and futures education. Currently existing research indicates that technology has a central role in young people’s images of the future. Science and technology are generally seen as forces shaping the future, but these perceptions are not necessarily deeply connected with active agency and scientific literacy. This is a challenge, because the goals of science education increasingly relate to the significance of science and technology for society and sustainability. Two of the three part-studies in the dissertation analyse Finnish upper-secondary students’ images of the future. These images were found to relate to various technological developments from everyday devices to further large-scale digitalisation of society. Technology was depicted impacting convenience, the environment, employment, privacy and general societal progress. These issues were paired with both radical and incremental sociotechnical changes and discussed with varying levels of problematisation. Clear depictions of human agency were scarce, but some students constructed visions where agency was attributed to general publics, specialised experts or the student themselves. The third part-study was conducted by interviewing students of an experimental future-oriented science course. The study analyses what changes students self-reported in their perceptions of futures and agency after participating on a course on quantum computing and the futures thinking. The students reported seeing the future and technological change as more positive but also more unpredictable. Agency was mostly connected with professional life and one’s communities. The students also noted they felt more capable of employing creative, open thinking on questions of both their own future and large-scale societal issues. These results elaborate on the multitude of roles attributed to technology in imagined futures. The dissertation further captures phenomena and concepts that are useful for understanding students’ thinking in socioscientific contexts. By situating these phenomena within science education research, the dissertation contributes to the development of future-oriented science education.
... Our conception of the future influences our actions in the present (Mangnus et al., 2021;Poli, 2021;Schreiner, 2006)-for example, to act to improve our circumstances, we must first have the "capacity to aspire" (Appadurai, 2004). FL involves creativity, imagining "discontinuities" and embracing the sense of "not knowing" as opposed to simple preparation (Miller, 2015;UNESCO, n.d.). Here, future discontinuities may of course involve previously unseen possibilities as well as risks. ...
... Conceptually, if the way we perceive the future draws the boundaries for how we perceive opportunities for agency, and if the way we see the future is outlined by our "anticipatory assumptions" (Miller, 2015), then the otherwise implicit concept of future becomes central to promoting Vision III scientific literacy. In our view, promoting SL is not simply about preparing students to make individual judgements, but also engaging in "a dialogue with young people about the sorts of futures they might wish to see emerge" (Facer, 2012, p. 99). ...
Full-text available
Various current trends in education highlight the importance of pedagogies that address societal and environmental questions while preparing and inspiring students to take action. Meanwhile, how we view the future influences how we act, and how we act influences the future. Research on young people’s images of the future has shown how technology plays a central role in how we imagine the future and the changes that shape it. This suggests a need to address the role of perceptions of future sociotechnical change and agency in students’ thinking, as it may instruct the development of action-oriented critical scientific literacy. Thus, in this study, we examine how images of the future reflect students’ perceptions of sociotechnical change. Employing abductive qualitative content analysis on 58 upper secondary school students’ essays describing “a typical day” in the future, we focused on how students’ depictions of future sociotechnical change vary along three dimensions: from static futures to radical transformation, from nonproblematic change to issues deeply relevant to societal deliberation, and various framings of who, if anyone, has agency. We found that students’ images of the future contained wide variation in the discussed range of sociotechnical change, while technology was discussed typically in nonproblematic and sometimes in more critical, problematised ways. Indications of agency were mostly vague, but students occasionally attributed agency over sociotechnical change to the general public, specialised experts and themselves. We conclude by discussing the potential implications of the results in regard to recent definitions of scientific literacy as well as future-oriented pedagogies in science education.
... Participatory future visioning processes are a foundation of futures thinking, research and practice (Schultz 2015a). Foresight and futuring approaches allow individuals, organisations, or communities to explore the future to prepare for known risks, discern a target to aim for, or understand possible future "discontinuities"-substantial and possibly abrupt future changes that lead to novel and unexpected pathways (Miller 2015). Importantly, futures thinking is not merely a prediction tool, estimating future conditions based on current conditions and defined drivers of change (e.g. ...
Full-text available
Invasive alien species (IAS) pose a key threat to biodiversity, the economy and human well-being, and continue to increase in abundance and impact worldwide. Legislation and policy currently dominate the global agenda for IAS, although translation to localised success may be limited. This calls for a wider range of responses to transform IAS management. An under-appreciated strategy to achieve success may come from bottom-up, experimental innovations (so-called “seeds”), which offer alternative visions of what may be possible for IAS management in the future. We present an application of a participatory process that builds on such innovations to create alternative visions of the future, with actionable pathways to guide change. Through a series of workshops with practitioners and academics, we used this process to explore alternative positive futures for IAS management in South Africa. We then identified a set of domains of change, that could enable these visions to be actioned by appropriate stakeholders. The domains of change highlight the social–ecological nature of the IAS sector, with interconnected actions needed in financial, cultural, social, technological and governance spheres. Key domains identified were the need to shift mindsets and values of society regarding IAS, as well as the need for appropriate and functional financing. This participatory futuring process offers a way to interrogate and scale bottom-up innovations, thereby creating optimism and allowing stakeholders to engage constructively with the future. This represents an important step in fostering the potential of bottom-up innovations to transform IAS management.
... Because the way we anticipate -i.e. think and use the future (Miller, 2015) -shapes our actions in the present, the practice of anticipation is central to conduct transformation toward sustainability. ...
Full-text available
Urgent calls to transform societies toward more sustainability make the practice of anticipation more and more necessary. The progressive development of computational technologies has opened room for a growing use of quantitative methods to explore the future of social-ecological systems, in addition to qualitative methods. This warrants investigating issues of power relationships and discontinuities and unknowns that arise when mingling quantitative and qualitative anticipatory methods. We first reflected on the semantics attached to these methods. We then conducted a comparative analysis on the way the articulation of quantitative and qualitative methods was conducted, based on an in-depth analysis of a set of eleven anticipatory projects completed by several external case studies. We propose insights to classify projects according to the timing (successive, iterative or convergent) and the purpose of the articulation (imagination, refinement, assessment and awareness raising). We use these insights to explore methodological implications and power relationships and then discuss the ways to inform or frame anticipatory projects that seek to combine these methods.
... Mindful of dominant political and ideological frames on the policy level, and the difficulty to imagine one's future in a protracted situation of crisis on the individual level, this study shifts from questioning Syrians in Lebanon about their intent to return to supporting them to become actors and researchers of their own futures, in other words, to become futures literate (Miller 2015(Miller , 2018. As a team of migration researchers and Syrian futures literacy practitioners trained by Feukeu, Who Owns the Future of Syrians in Lebanon? 3 Downloaded from by guest on 21 May 2023 we adopted a capability-based approach and implemented three futures literacy labs with three Syrian families in Lebanon in 2020 and 2021, of which two form the basis of this article. ...
Full-text available
For both political and ideological reasons, return is the most favoured future imagined for refugees by policy makers and protection actors. This article analyses how humanitarian migrants in a context of limited durable solutions can be supported to reclaim ownership of their futures, as well as how this can result in deeper insights for social scientists and policy makers. For the case of Syrians, this study deploys futures literacy labs as a participatory and capability-based research methodology that allows participants to become researchers of their own lives. Based on two futures literacy labs with two Syrian families in Lebanon in 2020 and 2021, the article demonstrates that a futures capability-based approach provides humanitarian migrants with the cognitive space and agency needed to go beyond foreclosed decision-making processes. The research methodology allows researchers to become witnesses to intimate reappropriation and learning processes by humanitarian migrants themselves. As a result, we are able to argue that ‘returns’ as a durable solution are essentially about a return to a state of well-being and possibilities, which may or not entail a spatial return.
... Але в період швидких соціальних змін когнітивні карти стають украй застарілими для розуміння майбутнього (Ahvenharjua et al., 2018). Конфлікт старого і нового вимагає розроблення нових карт з огляду на різні варіанти майбутнього і здатність до спонтанності мислення (Miller, 2015). ...
Full-text available
Sushyi, O. (ed.) (2023). Psychology in Forecasting Social Processes. Authors: T.Danilova, O.Kuharuk, O. Malkhazov, O.Sushyi, & V. Zhovtyanska. Kropyvnytskyi, Imex-LTD. The monograph presents for the first time the theoretical and methodological bases of psychology of social forecasting as a scientific knowledge and practical work. The psychological principles of developing strategies and technologies for social forecasting are described. Psychological approaches to forecasting social processes are proposed. The prospects, possibilities and limitations of socio-psychological forecasting of the processes of post-war reconstruction in Ukraine are outlined. Addressed to representatives of the social and human sciences – psychologists, sociologists, political scientists, social philosophers, representatives of civil service and public administration, as well as to everyone who is interested in the problems of future research and social forecasting. У монографії вперше подано обґрунтування теоретичних і методологічних засад психологічного забезпечення соціального прогнозування як науково-теоретичної та предметно-практичної діяльності. Представлено психологічні принципи розроблення стратегій і технологій соціального прогнозування. Запропоновано психологічні підходи до прогнозування соціальних процесів. Окреслено перспективи соціально-психологічного прогнозування процесів повоєнного відновлення України. Адресовано широкому колу представників соціогуманітарних наук – психологам, соціологам, політологам, соціальним філософам, представникам органів державної влади та управління, а також усім, кого цікавить проблематика досліджень майбутнього та соціального прогнозування.
Full-text available
Designing a Futures Literacy Laboratory so that it takes participants on an action-learning/research voyage to explore imaginary futures rests on four distinct foundational theories or pillars: learning, laboratories, collective intelligence, and anticipation. Each of these frameworks for organizing our thinking about each specific topic provides a set of design principles that get applied by the core team while they customize each Lab to its specific context. First, is the theory of learning that envisages the learning process as a sequence of steps that arise from the disruption of routine or familiar knowing. Such moments, when we realize that there is something we don’t fully understand and would like to understand better, gives rise to efforts to propose and explore different explanations of what we don’t know. We then experiment or play with the explanation and evidence, testing to see if we have arrived at a better understanding or not. Then we either incorporate what we’ve learned, an explanation that helps us to understand something, or not, into our memory and habits, or we discard and forget. This is the universal human learning cycle that is used by the core team to design the layout or steps in the pathway participants will take as they experience an FLL. Second, is the theory of laboratories as situations where propositions or hypotheses are invented/expressed and tested/assessed – this is the terrain, ‘playground’ or forest/garden, that serves as the environment for the Lab’s learning voyage. The design of the laboratory needs to be fit for purpose – for instance, a biology lab is not set-up in the same way as a psychology lab. In the specific case of Futures Literacy Labs we are designing ‘living laboratories’, meaning the interactive learning voyage of a Lab does not require a standard physical space. What it does require is a context, physical or virtual, that will enable a specially selected and carefully invited group of participants to explore and learn together. The participants must be engaged with the topic of the Lab and the invitation to the Lab must be formulated in such a way that they will be willing and able to work in an open and collaborative fashion. Third, is the theory of joint or collective creation of knowledge through human interaction or how people can work together to invent and share their ideas. Using our collective intelligence to create knowledge together depends on designing the circumstances, ones that are different for different groups, that will offer all participants the sense of safety and motivation that is necessary for them to make the effort to explain and listen, create and negotiate meaning inter-actively. In this respect, the general topic of all Labs – the future of … – is helpful because no one can visit the future, no one knows the future better than anyone else. It is up to the design team to find the exercises, experiences, opportunities for expression and performance, that make a safe, open, and nourishing environment a fertile context, one that is conducive to reflection, questioning, and sharing. And fourth, is the theory of anticipatory systems and processes that allows for the categorization and sequencing of efforts to imagine and use-the-future. Without a theory of what is the future and how to distinguish different kinds of future all the steps of the learning voyage would be mixed up in a confusing fog – like trying to read poetry before learning the alphabet. In the ‘living lab’ part of a FLL each phase focuses on a distinct kind of future. Phase 1 invites participants to imagine probable and desirable futures. Phase 2 breaks away from conventional futures, offering an opportunity to play with different reasons and methods for imagining the future. Designing such a process, one that allows participants to focus on distinct kinds of the future and thereby help them to understand the nature and role of different futures, is made possible by a theory of the future. What we call the ‘discipline of anticipation’. Each of these theories helps formulate design principles to be followed as the core team jointly creates the step-by-step script or pathway for the learning voyage that takes place as an FLL unfolds. Customizing Labs to context is feasible because these theories inform the necessary design principles. There is nothing as practical, with direct impact on the specifications and configurations of FLL, as good theories.
Rationale and objectives: To evaluate a model for predicting technological obsolescence of computed tomography (CT) equipment. Materials and methods: Baseline data consisted of various models of CT scanners that have been on the market since 1974 and represent a technological leap in CT. In documenting the CT scans, a principal component analysis was performed to reduce the number of variables. A Cox regression model was used to calculate the probability of a technology leap. Results: The CT parameters were divided into three main components: detection system, image resolution, and device performance. Cox regression odds ratios show that a technology leap can be expected as a function of the variables device power (1.457), detection system (0.818), and image resolution (0.964). Conclusion: Our results show that the variables that predict the technological leap in CT are device performance, image resolution, and detection system. The results provide a better understanding of the expected technological changes in CT, which will lead to advances in planning investments in this technology, purchasing and installing equipment in hospitals where this type of technology is not yet available, and renewing the technological base already installed.
Full-text available
El Paraguay para enfrentar las tendencias, necesidades emergentes y las crisis económica, ambiental y recientemente la pandemia del coronavirus, requiere de un mayor desarrollo del sector Ciencia Tecnología e Innovación (CTI) como ecosistema. En este contexto, se planteó la pregunta: ¿Qué condiciones y transformaciones son necesarias para potenciar el sector CTI a largo plazo (2050), generar escenarios alternativos aprovechando las condiciones y oportunidades emergentes, y cómo se pueden articular los esfuerzos de los actores principales a través de programas y proyectos? Para responder a esta pregunta, se llevó a cabo una investigación prospectiva observacional-cualitativa, con el objetivo de construir escenarios alternativos para el sector CTI a largo plazo (2050), seleccionar un escenario apuesta y proponer programas y proyectos utilizando enfoques y métodos prospectivos. Para la construcción de una visión a largo plazo, se tuvieron en cuenta los vectores de cambio basados en el Heptagrama de Sinergias Transformacionales propuesto por Garrido (2021), mientras que la exploración de escenarios futuros para el sector CTI al 2050 y la selección de un escenario apuesta se basaron en la conceptualización prospectiva de la construcción de futuros múltiples: posibles, probables y deseables, propuesta por Mojica (1991). Además, se aplicaron herramientas prospectivas como paneles de expertos, análisis estructural, análisis morfológico, el Ábaco de Regnier y el método de importancia y gobernabilidad (IGO) de Godet (2000) y Mojica (2006). Como resultado final, se seleccionó un escenario apuesta denominado "Energías renovables para el desarrollo industrial", y se desarrollaron propuestas de proyectos basados en variables estratégicas del escenario apuesta.
Full-text available
Even the most determined optimists among us cannot deny we are living in dark times, with raging wars and the effects of climate change upon us. A pandemic has left us feeling uncertain about our futures, polarization has pressured social discourse. Our assumptions of the future are being challenged: even what we took for granted now seems uncertain. And instead of asking: how did we get here? We are left with the question: what made us think we would never get here? If the unimaginable suddenly becomes a reality, then what is left to imagine? Is it still worth being hopeful? It appears that we are not only suffering from the poverty of imagination, but also from the poverty of hope. But what if imagination and hope are inherently connected? In this essay we propose that we cannot be hopeful without rethinking our images of the future, in which imagining the impossible turns out to become a necessity: a radical act of hope.
Full-text available
Futurists are haunted by an unresolved problem – how to deal with the unknowable and novelty rich future. Most futurists in the APF and elsewhere have accepted for some years now that prediction and probability are limited ways of thinking about the future. But knowing what does not work is not the same as knowing what does. The paradox of futures is that we can’t find ways to ‘know’ the future, but rather we need to find ways to live and act with not-knowing the future. This requires the discipline of anticipation (DOA).
Full-text available
Theory U is a framework and social methodology that integrates systems thinking, leadership and organizational learning from the viewpoint of an evolving human consciousness. It presents a matrix of social evolution in which the current crisis of our global system is seen as a possibility to co-create a generative social field. The condition for that transformation is a shift of the inner place from which a system operates (open mind, open heart, open will).
Graham Molitor's article provides a timely prompt for reflecting on the value of scenario prac-tices, especially given several data sources indicating their usage has increased significantly since 2001 (e.g. Ramirez, Selsky, & van der Heijden, 2008, p.9). Molitor is not alone in his struggle to clarify the effectiveness of scenario practices. Others, including myself, are endeavouring to address similar questions: how to judge effectiveness and what do we mean by 'effectiveness' when referring to such practices? As he implicitly suggests, his critique does not imply that we should throw the scenario 'baby out with the bathwater'. It is all too easy to agree with some of the criticisms of scenarios raised by Molitor. Three aspects are particularly relevant: The first is that futures work seems to be characterised by highly personalised practices. Such practices can be introduced by someone who thought it was "a good idea" but who failed to fully reflect on the complexity of the situation and bases their choice of techniques on sound theoretical principles. Secondly, as much of scenario work is secret – particularly in military and corporate sec-tors-and/or difficult to assess, it is very hard to engage in comparative research. Thirdly, common to other practitioner-led fields, scenario practices are blessed with a high degree of innovation and entrepreneurship and cursed by a lack of reliable accounts that render explicitly what has worked and what has not, why and for whom in different settings. In the limited space available, however, I would like to raise three areas that I feel are worthy of further reflection: 1. Scenarios Are Not Forecasts By implicating scenarios with "any technique that may advance forecasting capabilities", Molitor contributes to the already considerable methodological confusion that characterises the futures field, in general, and scenario practices in particular. In fact, scenarios – i.e. many futures -and forecasting – one future -have different ontological and epistemological underpinnings.