Futurists in the Media by Stephen Layman

I love promoting the future! The University of Houston Foresight Program https://tinyurl.com/guzsb2q has been generous enough to let me shepherd an intern, Stephen Layman. Here is a passion of his in Foresight!

Futurists in the Media

Stephen Layman

The Facts:

Foresight discussion in the media is lacking. We are expanding public knowledge on foresight, while sharing a successful approach to planning for the future, but continue to be overlooked. The communication of what foresight is, and what futurists are doing is still minimal. I will be collecting all of the articles flagged by Google Alerts under foresight and futurists over the next few months (January – May 2018). So far, the results are promising, but the traffic is not enough. We average two article a day that discuss foresight. The most articles I’ve collected over a single day is four.

 

The articles range from the introduction of new methods of foresight, to keynote announcements for speaking engagements where futurists are featured. Topics being discussed are energy, technology, the environment, government, etc. It really goes to show how inclusive foresight as a field has become. Everyone plans for the future – and foresight has the tools to guide us to the most preferable.

The Positives:

Most of the articles that were tagged have either been written by futurists, are promoting a single futurist, or describe the newest influences on the foresight community. Futurists are becoming professionals at promotion. Half of the articles received are linked back to a foresight website, a foresight association, or the most recent completion of collective foresight works. The remaining articles are of a new frontier in foresight, where the applications are being applied in fields of all types, an integral approach. The spread of corporate foresight, and the growing need to retain a futurist on staff, is leading to future-thinking in medicine, farming, housing, and shipping, to name a few.

There are new research articles being released that promote foresight as a tangible improvement to the previous method of thinking on the future. The impact of having a futurist on staff is being measured, and the applications of foresight are proving impressive. Previously, articles have been informative, but the focus was simply to discuss what the studies are aiming to accomplish, not how impactful the actual work is or how the long term effects of future forward thinking have changed business outlooks for the better.

The Points:

  • Having been a tech-oriented and focused industry, as foresight has had to be, we are well adjusted to the task of self-promotion. It’s no wonder that the most widespread articles are a result of those labors. Continued self-promotion will result in more exposure for the field as a whole. The need is for continued successful research that properly explores the field and positively reflects the outcome.
  • The expansion of foresight into new markets, and new regions for increased exposure.

Focus: Latin America

The tools of foresight are diverse, like integral foresight, which can be helpful across all cultures and demographics.

  • Government promotion, the inclusion of foresight, and the backing of futurists work will instill confidence in private sector involvement. Not only will this lend to overall exposure, but also enhance the publicity of results. As the methods become more understood the credit for decisions about the future will reflect the work of foresight.

The Breakdown:

Shared research among colleagues with differing viewpoints, as well as the welcoming of inventive ideas, from those being introduced to foresight with new perspectives, will allow for the work to prosper and for the field to become even more inclusive. The previous issue was self-promotion vs. the betterment of the field. Keeping cutting-edge trends and the newest ideas a secret is limiting the exposure of our work – as are the privatized efforts by foresight firms. The culture of independent consultants and analysts needs to be broken down. Allowing the practiced tools to become public, through promotion, will add to the enhancement of foresight in its entirety and result in a better outlook for all futurists. Also, remaining receptive to incoming ideas, perspectives, and applications: like the integral approach, will push each nook of foresight further.

Lingering Questions:

Is there enough research being conducted on the expansion of foresight as a field?

Too much privatized work vs. public exposure?

Lacking in a clear path to publication for solid works?

Is there anything that foresight cannot be applied to?

How can integral applications be used to enhance futurists in the media?

Author: Terry Collins

Foresight consultant and a lecturer and researcher at the University of Houston in the College of Technology. In the Project Management Department she teaches Leadership and Team Building to graduate students. In the Human Development and Consumer Science Department she teaches Human Ecosystems and Technological Change to undergraduates online. As a researcher she has worked in conjunction with the University of Houston Foresight Department and the Lumina Foundation on Student Needs 2025+. Led and mentored the "Emerging Fellows" blogging group for the Association of Professional Futurists. Has also mentored a group for the Women's Energy Network. Terry has given five presentations at the World Futures Society and two at the regional Project Management conference. She has appeared on “Great Day Houston” and moderated a Futures Panel at the Mensa regional conference. Terry has peer-reviewed publications in Foresight, Futures Quarterly Review, and On the Horizon She has a B.A. in Philosophy & a M.S. in Foresight

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