Earlier Work: Futures

This section contains earlier futures work from the 1980s and 1990s.

Assessing the QUEST for future knowledge (1990)

This paper discusses the QUEST technique, pioneered by Professor Nanus and Dr. Selwyn Enzer in the early 1980s. Since that time, QUEST has been taken up and applied by many people in a number of countries, including Australia and New Zealand. Several versions of the basic approach now exist, and the paper explains why I expect this process to continue. My intention is to provide a critical overview and to comment upon the significance and possible future evolution of this technique in relation to forecasting and the futures field. It appears to incorporate a shift of perception which may be of fundamental importance to the field as a whole. (Read more…)

Promise of the twenty-first century (1992)

The end of one millennium and the prospect of another to follow is not merely symbolic; it provides us with an opportunity to take stock and consider our position. Why are such turning points important? They reflect two powerful aspects of our reality. One is the capacity (even the need) of the human mind to range at will over time past, present and future. The other is the fact of our interconnectedness with all things past and future. (Read more…)

Cultural reconstruction in the ‘post-modern’ world (1995)

How can one reconstruct a culture? After all, we have seen the decline of certainty during the present century and the rise of various perspectives that have greatly complicated our view of the world. The idea of cultural reconstruction can all too easily suggest a kind of hubris that is unjustified in post-modern conditions. The construction metaphor itself implies a tangible subject and an assumption of control that may seem inappropriate in this context. So why use it? This is a good time to remind ourselves of the active role of humans in shaping their present and future. If there is a central idea underlying the foresight principle, it is that humans are creators of culture, makers of meaning, conscious agents in the social/historical process. (Read more)

Changing images of futures in the 20th century (1991)

The 20th century has seen a rise in dystopian images of futures and an apparent decline in imaging capacity. The article considers responses to this ‘imaging dilemma’. They include critique, futures workshops, accessing cultural resources, renegotiating aspects of a worldview and ‘image-ining’ a different historical dynamic. It concludes that there is a substantive basis for informed optimism and empowerment. The keys to each lie in the nature of human responses to what is desired or feared. (Read more)

Futures beyond dystopia (1998)

The speculative imagination is an higher-order human capacity that can productively explore the not-here and the not-yet. To some extent it is already doing so. But these explorations are limited by prevailing cultural assumptions. The purpose of this paper is to suggest that there are other arenas to explore that, if they were taken seriously, could exert sufficient ‘pull’ to qualify as desirable images of futures. They could then begin to act as ‘magnets’ for the realisation of possibilities that are currently obscured. (Read more)