Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Next Generation of Futurists

For the past three years, I’ve had the pleasure and opportunity to chair a committee for the Association of Professional Futurists the, Student Recognition Project. This project has given me the opportunity to correspond with futures educators around the world, and to read papers from the brightest and the best of the next generation of futurists. The quality level of some of these papers is amazing. I know that word is overused, but it’s the best description I can think of.

When I was a student in Studies of the Future at the University of Houston Clear Lake (1998-1999) I was impressed with the quality of students that I was competing/collaborating with at that time. Most of them are professional futurists now. But the quality level of the work being done today, all around the globe, should help elevate the entire profession.

One thing troubles me though. And that is that I’m only seeing a fraction of the work that is being done by students of Foresight and Futures Studies. We are only receiving the papers that are written or translated into English. That means that many of the schools that conduct foresight classes in another language are not participating; for which I take some responsibility. In our first year of the project, we paid for translations of student papers. Only one school submitted papers for translation, but the expense surprised me. It also surprised the Board of APF, because it represented an open-ended risk. One Board member, Stephen Aguilar-Milan, argued strongly for offering full translation, but, although I and most of the Board agreed with his point of view, the risk was too high.

So the second and third years, we asked for papers in English. I offered software translation, but no takers. So we will be looking for a solution that will make the Student program more inclusive.

We have received all the student entries from school year 2010 in mid-January, and our chief judge, Jim Mathews is getting ready to send the papers out to the judges who will read the papers and pick the best. Not an easy job, but it certainly gives perspective on the next generation of futurists!

As those papers are being read, we on the APF committee will start to think about the Student Recognition Project for 2011. What can we do to improve the Project? How can we make it more inclusive? How can we resolve the translation problem?

If you have suggestions or ideas for improving this project, please email me at

In closing, I would like to invite you to visit my web sites, (with free downloads including the Personal Futures Workbook, 4th edition) (my books and other writing—read the first chapter of It’s YOUR Future… Make it a Good One!) The Personal Futures Network has a page on Facebook (new). Come be a fan! Finally you can follow me on Twitter @urfuturist . I’ll be sending updates from Mumbai during February.