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Image by Norman Bosworth. CC BY-SA 3.0

We discovered the hard way that when you change the email on your Medium account, Medium splits the account into two: before and after.

SOIF has therefore consolidated all of our Medium posts at the new address, although this process will take a few days to complete. If you want to follow our new posts, please go over to that account.

This Medium site will remain as a legacy site, but there will be no new posts here.

Click here if you want to see the latest posts.


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Higher education could be on the edge of a huge change. To make it fit for the future we need to think long-term — and involve the next generation.

Cat Tully writes: Today is only the second UN International Day of Education. So it’s a good day to reflect on the value of foresight for the global education sector, and (for me personally), a good day to reflect on participating in UNESCO’s recent Global Futures Literacy Design Forum [SR1] and my collaboration, as Chair of Futuristic Thinking at Kuala Lumpur’s UNIRAZAK University, with the Malaysian Higher Education sector.

For those with an interest in building positive long-term futures there is perhaps no more important area of global public policy. Education is a driver of long-term economic growth, a source of human flourishing, a key to human capital development, a motor of national cohesion and an important tool of nation-branding and soft power. …


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Image: pxfuel.com/CC0

Cat Tully writes: The year 2020 is full of a kind of futuristic resonance for many of us — somehow a little like living in the future. Seeing 2020 on the calendar this January summons specific memories for me of my time a decade ago as a Strategy Director in the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. At that time, 2020 served as a useful mid-term time horizon to ask clients and colleagues to imagine themselves into, to help design future scenarios and tease out the policy implications. …


by Andrew Curry and Emma Bennett

‘Business as usual’ is no longer enough. It won’t meet the growing pressures from consumers, policymakers and the planet, while also ensuring business value. The old ways of doing strategy are not fit for purpose in this environment. The new decade demands new approaches and new thinking.

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Fernand Leger, The Railway Crossing, 1919. Art Institute of Chicago.

Most of the models that drive our businesses are breaking down. The signs are all around. Profit margins are being squeezed. Each round of incremental innovation seems to produce less bang per buck than the last one. Suppliers are finding just-in-time deliveries harder to guarantee. …


Futurists don’t often feature as fictional protagonists. And there is even an oblique reference to the SOIF Retreat at Hartwell House. This is a guest post by Corinne Roëls, of the French futures organisation, Futuribles. Corinne also attended the SOIF Retreat in 2017.

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Photograph of the reviewer, Corinne Roëls, taken at a SOIF Retreat by the novel’s author, Jean-Philippe Toussaint.

Followers of Futuribles ought to enjoy The USB Key, the new novel by Jean-Philippe Toussaint. It is set against the backdrop of foresight and futures work, and even features the Futuribles’ former offices.

The hero of the novel, Jean Detrez, is a strategic foresight specialist at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre in Brussels. His backstory: before becoming an EU official, he worked in the 1990s as an editor at the journal Futuribles. …


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Detail of Lady Writing a Letter With Her Maid, by Vermeer. Public domain.

Cat Tully writes: Last week, I and a group of other global Fellows at the Salzburg Global Seminar published a Recommendation setting out a new project idea: that people from across the globe should sit down and write letters to their grandchildren’s grandchildren, living in 2200.

The idea was the result of a futures lab convened by SOIF for Salzburg Global Seminar, bringing together inspiring young policymakers from across the globe, from Denmark to Japan, and aiming to encourage the authors — be they leading decision-makers or ordinary citizens — to think through their hopes and fears for future generations and examine more closely how their own actions will shape the world in which their descendants live. …


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Chris Skelly was a member of the facilitation team at SOIF’s 2019 Retreat — held at Hartwell House in Buckinghamshire, in the south of England. This is the third of three Medium articles he’s written about the learning journey during the week of the retreat.

Day 1 is here; Days 2 and 3 here.

Too Long; Didn’t Read (TL;DR)

Scenarios are a hugely important aspect of the futuring process. Getting from scenarios to strategy is an art form, but it would seem that thinking on incorporating predictive data analytics into the futuring process is still at a very early stage of development. It may even define the ‘cutting edge of futuring’ practice? …


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Source: Kristel Van der Elst. Image: Chris Skelly.

Chris Skelly is a member of the facilitation team at this year’s SOIF Retreat, when policy-makers and practitioners come together to learn with us about how to use futures to improve outcomes. It’s held at Hartwell House, in the south of England. He meant to post daily, but the facilitator’s role is a demanding one. Here are his thoughts on Days 2 and 3.

Chris Skelly writes: Days 2 and 3 were long, hard days. I am finishing this blog on the morning of day 4.

Last night we had drinks in the library after the formal sessions finished listening to some words of wisdom from the former EU President José Manuel Barroso, followed by a fantastic dinner, music, and conversation… where does one find the time to write? …


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Hartwell House: the view from the window

It is the week of the SOIF 2019 Retreat, when policy-makers and practitioners come together to learn with us about how to use futures to improve outcomes. It’s held at Hartwell House, in Buckinghamshire in the south of England. Chris Skelly, a member of the facilitation team, will be posting daily on how the event unfolds.

Chris Skelly writes: I’m participating in the 5 day SOIF Workshop. My first. And only my second ever 5-day futuring event ever. Looks like a wonderfully eclectic group. And the first day has set us on course for an enjoyably intense week.

I will write about what it is we are doing each day, and then when I get ‘back to the ranch’ I will start planning the next Public Health Dorset futuring event. …


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Photo by elycefeliz, from her ‘100 Strangers’ project. CC by-nc-nd/2.0/

Cat Tully writes: Philanthropy has traditionally paid relatively little attention to foresight, but the sector urgently needs a stronger focus on becoming ‘future-fit’. It needs to understand better how the trends of the next 10, 20 and even 50 years will affect its focus, operations and legitimacy. And if institutions want to innovate in untested or ‘frontier’ areas, they need new skills and a foresight mindset.

Following the publication of our article on future-fit philanthropy, SOIF, the School of International Futures (SOIF) is hosting a series of roundtable discussions exploring how philanthropy can harness strategic foresight to create transformative social change. …

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SOIF, the School of International Futures

Using futures and foresight for public impact

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