As the years went by, as the centuries went by, the art of future studies started developing as both an art and also a kind of science. Possibly the first fairly well-known futurist, although not recognized as such then, was H.G. Wells, well-known science fiction writer, who was actually more serious than that. Way back in the early 1900’s he started writing serious works on how the future might look 100 years later, around that year 2000. Some of these things he got right. Some of those awfully wrong. But let’s start establishing a very real meaningful discipline in future’s thinking.
About 50 years later, the late 1950s, future’s thinking, futures research started becoming a very serious science. One of the first known applications, or public applications, was The US military and also the RAND corporation, obviously also in America. Based on using future’s thinking scenarios as part of their war games. Then a few years later, also very well-known in early 1970s, we had something called the Club of Robe. And they started looking at the long term future of the world, limits to growth, they called it, this again, awakened the idea of the importance of long term thinking amongst the general public. Meanwhile, also in the 1970s, Shell, Shell came out with a set of something now known as scenarios.
And they were able to anticipate or take into account using those scenarios, the possibility of a major oil price increase. Ever since then, we’ve seen the further development and the refinement of future studies. In fact, in 1974 in South Africa at the university, we see the establishment of the Institute for Future’s Research. That’s about more than four decades ago. And along with the fact that this Institute not only provides a strategic advisory service to hundreds or just over 100 corporate clients, it has also established discipline, the postgraduate diploma and master’s degree in future studies. Not all that many in the world. All of these developments are still ongoing.
The future studies remains a fairly young discipline, but is gaining attraction in many parts of the world including South Africa. In fact, this course you are now doing is an offshoot from our post-graduate and masters courses in future studies. It’s used in many areas, both at a public level, international level, and also at a corporate level. And as it develops, we are finding increasingly it’s part science part art. There’s a science behind it that has to be plausible. It has to be credible. It’s based on sound principles.
At the same time, the crucial ingredient of think about the future is a strong dose of creativity, a strong dose of innovation, people– that includes you– need to be able to think outside the box, need to think creatively, need to suspend judgement, need to suspend disbelief, need to expect the unexpected. So it’s a constant attempt to blend an art with being a science.
Learning unit one one, topic three. Where are we today? 00:03:42.390 –> 00:03:44.270 align:middle line:84% Well, as said a bit earlier, we
have seen since the 1960s and 1970s the development of future studies as an art and a science. I’ll also mentioned briefly it’s also taken on a very strong academic component in certain parts of the world. Along with that, we’ve also seen the institutionalization of future studies in the form of professional values. Way back in the late ’60s, we see the establishment of the World Future Study Federation, and then not long after that, The World Future Society where habits of futurists, interested parties gathered regularly have a need to talk about future issues of global interest, of national interest, of regional interest. And we see various professional publications, scientific publications, peer-reviewed publications in the field of future studies.
I said earlier the discipline is still evolving. And it’s actually a very exciting field for that reason alone. It means there’s still lots of fellow grounders at work, or further research in this broad field of future studies.