This is a temporary space for recent work. Over time these articles will be moved to other locations.
How ‘Development’ Promotes Redundant Visions: The Case of the Queens Wharf Casino Project, Brisbane
‘Development’ is a term freighted with divergent meanings. To many it has positive connotations and is often linked with other contested terms such as ‘growth’ and ‘prosperity.’ But there is a dark side to development – at least as it is being practiced in and around Brisbane where it seems to denote ruthless ‘urban infill’ and the endless replication of poorly-conceived and badly constructed high rise buildings. Very, very few of these projects are being built with an eye to the future or the challenges and changes that it has in store. In other words much of what is currently called ‘development’ is based on redundant thinking, questionable values and what I argue in this paper are redundant visions. The Queen’s Wharf project now under way is perhaps one of the most perverse examples of this unfortunate trend. Whatever Brisbane ‘needs’ it is arguably NOT another casino placed in the heart of the government district and surrounded by one of the most tasteless and ill-conceived mega-developments ever undertaken. So in writing this article I tried to dig under the surface of the glossy advertising campaign to try and find out what is really going on. The paper was published in the Journal of Futures Studies 21, 1, 2016 pp 77-84. The abstract is below.
Pathways toward ‘overshoot and collapse’ futures are not always or exclusively determined by international trends, national governments, wars and large-scale events. While these gain considerable attention their overall impact is arguably no greater than the constant ‘drip, drip, drip’ of conventional decision-making around more mundane activities that fall under familiar headings like ‘business strategy’, ‘economic growth’ and ‘development’. While cities have master plans and strategic goals most of them evolve within, and are expressed through, a continuous series of commercially inspired projects founded on narrow short-term economic assumptions. They emerge from a typically up-beat, entrepreneurial (profit-oriented) and finance-based worldview that is little short of delusional. As a result, many large-scale projects are poorly conceived and end up working against shared community interests. The central purpose of this paper is therefore to contribute toward a broad re-appraisal of such projects in the hope that future ‘developments’ can be turned toward more consciously proactive and socially responsible ends. Read more…
Academic Publishing in Transition: the Case of Foresight
Jim Dator’s introduction to the new series of World Future Review under his editorship, he made it clear that the focus of the journal would now be ‘on futures studies itself as an academic discipline and as a practical, consulting activity’ (Dator, 2015). A concern for professional standards in futures studies and applied foresight is has been around for a while and arguably represents one of the main ways by which the profession can advance and prosper (Slaughter, 1999). The reverse is obviously also the case. Either way, journals play a major part in this process since they perform a number of critically vital roles that include: reviewing professional activities, reporting on new and significant work, assisting in the dissemination of ideas, providing a platform for individual opinions and so on. Yet remarkably little attention has been paid to the question of standards within the journals themselves. Meanwhile, academic publishing is passing through a profound upheaval due to the continuing fallout from the ‘digital revolution.’
The paper begins by considering the declared aims and objectives of Foresight. There follows an outline of the method used to carry out the content analysis over several volumes and relate this back to the original study. The rest of the paper reviews the content and themes that emerged through four categories: social interests, methods, focal domains and capacity building. Mention is also made of special issues and ‘outstanding works.’ Finally, suggestions are put forward for further consideration and action. Read more… (World Future Review, Sage, 2016)
Beyond the Global Emergency: Integral Futures and the Search for Clarity Read more…
This paper argues that external, technology-led views of futures tend to be one-sided and overlook significant interior aspects of reality. Since everything is socially constructed it follows that no technology stands alone. They arise from social processes that are, in many cases, centuries old. Human beings also enact their own individual and shared interior worlds. An Integral perspective and the four-quadrant model gives equal attention to interior / exterior and individual / collective phenomena. It also helps us to embrace and respect the contributions of many different disciplines. Part one uses these distinctions to raise questions about the views of prominent Silicon Valley figures and their particular framing of the ‘Digital revolution’. Part two suggests how Integral methods help us to ‘see with fresh eyes’ and open up new and renewed strategies or ‘proto-solutions’ to pressing global issues.
Getting to the Heart of Things Read more…
This paper reflects on four decades of activity in the futures arena. Overall, it tracks a process of deepening insight and growing appreciation for the richness and complexity of life in all its myriad forms. Coupled with this is what I have come to regard as our inescapable responsibility for being active in ways that protect and nurture our natural and cultural heritage, both of which are under sustained and ever deepening threat. To do so we need to recover a clear perception of how extreme and ‘abnormal’ our present situation vis-à-vis Planet Earth really is. This entails removing the veils from our eyes, setting aside convenient fictions and gaining the courage to face reality. This view can also be read as ‘finding ways forward in impossible times.’ Part one provides an overview of early influences and experiences. Part two summarises some core learnings. Part three provides examples of the kinds of ‘depth appreciation’ that I believe prefigure long-term solutions to the global emergency.
The Denial of Limits and Interior Aspects of Descent Read more…
The primary purposes of this paper are as follows. Part one seeks to re-examine the role of denialism in the context of proposals advanced through the much-abused Limits to Growth (LtG) project. The wide-ranging consequences look increasingly like a ‘global trap’ for which humanity is manifestly unprepared. The paper suggests, however, that that moving from ‘collapse’ narratives toward those focused on ‘descent’ opens out new conceptual and practical spaces. Part two uses three sets of criteria (domains of reality, worldviews and values) to characterise some of the interior human and social aspects of the ‘denial machine.’ It uses these criteria to address some vital, but currently under-appreciated ‘interior’ aspects of descent. Finally it considers examples of promising work and concludes by advancing suggestions about ways forward in the light of the ‘global emergency.’