• Stellenbosch Business School

Futurism and Business: Dealing with Complexity

Learn practical skills to help you predict trends in business and prepare for the future with this free online course.

2,974 enrolled on this course

  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    4 hours

In a world of new opportunities, where change is happening faster than ever, knowing how to think about the future is a skill that is becoming vital for effective leadership in business, government and community organisations.

This course will help improve your ability to prepare for the future and teach you some practical skills for helping predict it.

Explore how to think about the future

We’ll get started by looking at the area of future studies - exploring its definitions and history, before moving on to look at the different ways and systems that we can use to think about the future.

Learn how to measure the future

We’ll also look at some practical ways to assess the future, including: practical modelling techniques for predicting trends in multivariate complex systems, scenario planning, and emerging ethical frameworks.

Finally we’ll discuss various emerging trends - from the sociological to the technological - examining how these trends have been predicted, and whether they can be considered accurate.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 14 seconds Good day, my name is Andre Roux. I’ve been involved in futures studies, futures research, thinking about the future for about the last 20 years in various ways. One is at this university. We have an institute for futures research. It’s been around since 1974, which has quite a few, around about 100 corporate and government clients, who want to know more about the future and how to use that knowledge to formulate their strategies. My other involvement is being in charge of two post graduate programs on future studies. Either way, I think a very important feature in reality of human beings is we have almost a love-hate relationship with the future. On the one hand, many people fear change. They fear the future.

Skip to 1 minute and 0 seconds They fear what might happen. At the same time, we crave to know more about the future. And since time immemorial, we often find ourselves thinking not so much about the past but about the future. In fact, that’s one of the exciting things about the future is only space and time that it can influence. Having said that, we can’t predict the future. That’s not the intention of any program or course related to thinking about the future. The intention that applies equally to this course is to equip you with various ways and means– structured ways and means, tools, which will enable you to get a better knowledge about how the future may unfold in different ways.

Skip to 1 minute and 41 seconds Hopefully upon completion of this course, you’ll be better acquainted with some of these tools, the way of thinking. Like in any discipline, we have different ways of thinking per discipline. You’ll hopefully discover that thinking about the future is both a science and an art. And you’ll discover that tools, such as scenarios, are something that can be used in an everyday context, not just by experts– to not fear the future but embrace the future, to embrace change, and to use that in preparing ourselves individually and collectively for a more desired, more ideal kind of future.

What topics will you cover?

The key themes covered in this course include:

  • Understanding the world of futurism
  • Practical modelling techniques for predicting trends in multivariate complex systems
  • Scenario planning
  • Emerging ethical frameworks

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Establish how (not) to think about the future
  • Review the futurist's toolkit
  • Gain more understanding of the contextual environment within which organisations operate
  • Learn about and apply the scenario methodology to better understand the implications of unfolding futures

Who is the course for?

There are no special requirements for this course but an interest in future planning and analysis might be useful.

Who will you learn with?

My name is André Roux. I have been involved in Future Studies and Futures research for the last 20 years. I work at the Institute for Futures Research at the University of Stellenbosch in Cape Town.

Who developed the course?

University of Stellenbosch Business School Executive Development

The University of Stellenbosch Business School strives to develop responsible leaders through well-grounded business education and research.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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