Futures Literacy Workshop

Interactive method developed by UNESCO


“Futures Literacy” (in French « littératie des futurs ») is the UNESCO method conceived by its Director of Foresight Riel Miller as a tool for (re)thinking about the future. The method aims to develop our imaginative and reflective potential concerning the future into a skill that enables us to cope with the uncertainty of the future.

Futures Literacy follows an experiential approach that harnesses the creativity and collective intelligence of the group. It fosters imagination by inviting us to consider the future from different angles, thereby challenging assumptions and conventional views of the future. During this process, our understanding of the future deepens and new questions arise. It then becomes possible to perceive new opportunities in the environment and to consider a wider range of actions in the here and now. Expanding our horizon of future possibilities means expanding our scope of action today.


A new way of thinking about the future

Unlike conventional foresight, whose approach is limited both in time (one-time exercise) and scope (generally 3 to 6 different future scenarios), Futures Literacy, as its name suggests, aims to develop a literacy, i.e. a ‘future competence’, which can then be put to use in any circumstance.

The approach proposed by Futures Literacy is part of a relatively recent paradigm shift in the field of foresight (i.e. modern futures studies), which replaces the desire to know the future with an ability to act spontaneously, creatively and opportunistically, without limitations due to predefined visions, expectations or imperatives. It is about encouraging a capacity to navigate the uncertainty of the future, or a “capacity to dance with the unknown” as Riel Miller puts it.

The approach proposed by Futures Literacy is part of a relatively recent paradigm shift in the field of foresight (in French “prospective,” i.e. modern futures studies), which replaces the desire to know the future with an ability to act with spontaneity, creativity and opportunism, without the usual limitations resulting from pre-established visions, expectations or imperatives. It is about encouraging a capacity to navigate the uncertainty of the future, or a “capacity to dance with the unknown” as Riel Miller puts it.

Resources

Medium article: What Is ‘Futures Literacy’ and Why Is It Important?
Introduction to the method on the website of UNESCO
The method booklet
Publication “Transforming the future: anticipation in the 21st century”


Applications

The Futures Literacy method lends itself well to:

  • A reflection on the future of a more or less large domain (e.g.: future of democracy, future of the cultural field, etc.), in particular when a specific challenge or the need for change arises (e.g.: digitalisation, climate change, social transformations, etc.)
  • A reflection on the future of an organisation or a company (e.g. the future of the organisation by 2030), which can represents the first step in a process to (re)define the organisation’s mission/governance, or in a foresight process building different scenarios of plausible futures, or simply as a team building exercise


Ideal for groups of 12 to 50 people
Duration: 5 hours (short version), one day (long version)
Form: online via zoom and Miro or on request in person (requires a beamer and a board or wall with post-its)

Offer

I offer this method on themes in the cultural, environmental and social fields.
Drop me a line in case of interest!

  • Cultural field: strength and diversity of the cultural field, organisation and modes of production of culture, future trends and innovations in artistic practices, new modes of dissemination and performance.
  • Environment and climate change: visions for a sustainable society, socio-economic transformations in relation to climate change and IPCC scenarios, future mobility, sustainable lifestyles, etc.
  • Society and social innovation: modes of participatory governance, urban or regional developments, transformation of lifestyles and living together, etc.


The workshop was great, the whole team is delighted!

Nelly Niwa, Director of the Competence Centre for Sustainability (CCD) at the University of Lausanne, on the workshop on the future of CCD to 2030 organised for the CCD team on 22 April 2021.