Asia-Pacific Foresight Conference

This is the long awaited third conference organised by the Australian futures / foresight community and it takes place next month in Perth on November 16 to 18. Themes include sustainability, descent futures, city futures and Asian regional futures. For further details please click on the link below.

Overview of Asia-Pacific Foresight Conference (To open click here)


Biggest Wake-Up Call in History Wins APF Award

The Association of Professional Futurists (APF) marked its 10th anniversary with a series of events in Toronto during late July, most of which I attended. Among them was an evening get together in the Distillery District during which time a number of awards were presented. One of these was a Most Important Futures Work (MIFW) for my 2010 book, The Biggest Wake-Up Call in History. In the book I reviewed the global predicament, some of the strategies proposed to address it and possible ways forward in what look like increasingly impossible times. (Further details are in earlier posts; about a dozen reviews can be found on the Foresight International site, where the book can be purchased.)

The relevant award category was ‘published works that analyse a significant futures issue.’ The other publication thus honoured was Tim Jackson’s stimulating Prosperity Without Growth. It is indeed an honour to be recognised by the APF and to share the limelight, as it were, with such a ground-breaking work. The award may, in turn, make it a little easier to work toward a second edition and mainstream publication. Sincere thanks are due to all those who were involved in this year’s selection process.


Toronto Resources

As part of the preparation for WFS and APF events in Toronto at the end of July, I’ve gathered together a number of resources that are relevant to sessions I’m taking part in. There are obviously other resources on the other three sites I administer, but I thought it useful to assemble some of the most relevant items in one place. They are filed on the Toronto Resources page under: Education Bootcamp, APF, ‘Megacrisis’ session, Bio and Other Items.

To See With Fresh Eyes – Integral Futures and the Global Emergency

This new book will be published by Foresight International in early 2012 in soft cover and pdf, with eBook to follow. Following the publication of The Biggest Wake-Up Call in History I decided to re-visit my personal archive of previously published articles, papers and chapters. Over a couple of months I pulled together several folders on a number of topics, one of which was Integral Futures. That was as far as it went until I read an outstanding paper by Terry Collins and Andy Hines on The evolution of integral futures – a status update (World Future Review, 2, 3, 2010 pp 5-16, WFS, Bethesda, M.D.). Here is how they described it.

Integral Futures is an approach to futures studies that adapted Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory to futures practice. Integral Theory is not exclusively the domain of Wilber, but he is its leading exponent and was central in popularising the idea. The domain is expanding with new voices and ideas increasingly contributing to the conversation. A key concept underlying Integral Theory is to include as many perspectives, styles, and methodologies as possible when exploring a topic.

In their overview they provide a valuable timeline of work carried out by various people over a decade or so and, in that light, it seemed to me to be time to pull some of my own contributions together and to make them available in one place. This I’ve now done. Andy Hines has been across these developments since he visited us at the Australian Foresight Institute a year or two after teaching had commenced (in 2003) and has proven to be a discriminating and clear-eyed participant observer. So I was particularly grateful that he provided us with a Foreword to the new book. It is reproduced below with his permission, along with my own Introduction and a list of Contents. In making this work newly available I’m not expecting that it will be a best seller. I do hope, however, that it will be of some value to those who are interested in new and empowering perspectives that can and are being brought to bear on the global emergency. In my own case some of the emerging concepts, methods, perspectives and so on have certainly provided me with ‘fresh eyes’ and many new insights. Let us bear in mind, however, that integral theory, integral futures – futures of any variety at all – are of little use unless they help to shed new light upon, motivate new actions to deal with, the new realities that surround us on every side and challenge us to our very core.

Foreword by Andy Hines (To open click here)

Introduction (To open click here)

Contents (To open click here)

Education for the 21st Century Revisited


Partly as a tribute to Hedley Beare (see below) and partly because the issues raised in the earlier edition are at least as significant today as they were in the early 1990s, a revised and updated edition of this book can now be obtained from the FI site. The book, which has long been out of print, has been re-constituted from original pre-publication files. Besides a new introduction it contains new figures and appendices. The latter includes three reviews of the original book, a brief rationale for futures in education, a short ‘op ed’ piece published in The Age newspaper, a personal tribute to Hedley Beare and, finally, a short reflection piece that considers the book in the light of subsequent developments.

As the world slowly becomes aware of the global emergency humanity has created for itself, I hope that works of this kind will be taken up and used more widely. PDFs are available from the FI site:

To read the 2011 Introduction to Education for the 21st Century Revisited Click here

2010 Laurel Awards

The results of this years ‘all-time best futurists’ as voted upon by Foresight Network Members are in. They are in no particular order: Alvin Toffler, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Slaughter, and Sohail Inayatullah. There was a draw for third place so we have not split hairs and recommended to the FN Board that we accept four new Laurel Awards. Sincere appreciation to you all for your mega contributions.

The biographies of the four new recipients will shortly appear on the Foresight Network website. They join Hazel Henderson, Jim Dator and Joe Coates who were the first recipients in 2009 and Richard “Bucky” Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983), Herman Kahn (1922-1983), Donella Meadows (1941-2001), Jules Verne (1828-1905), H G (Herbert George) Wells (1866-1946) who were given posthumous Lifetime Achievement Awards by the Board this year.

In early December I was surprised and honoured to receive the above message from the Foresight Network of the on-line Futures community, Shaping Tomorrow.* Several weeks later I’m still not quite sure what to say except a profound ‘thank you.’ I think it was Fabienne Goux-Baudiment who wrote a short piece a few years ago about the difficulties of being a Futurist / Foresight practitioner. You basically do what you do because you believe in it, heart and soul, not because you expect any thanks, rewards or prizes. So it is a rare pleasure to know that one’s peers have seen fit to award this honour and I thank each of those who took part


Tribute to Hedley Beare

A tribute to Hedley Beare, colleague, friend and mentor, who died in September 2010 has been added to the Futures in Education page. I’ve also decided to re-edit and revise our book Education for the 21st Century, partly as a further tribute to Hedley and also to make this later version available to a new generation of educators. Re-reading the pre-publication manuscript that we produced together not only brought back fond memories of working with him, it also reminded me of some of the themes we’d tackled – themes that have only grown more extreme and urgent since then.

As a ‘taster’ of what will soon re-emerge I’ve also added a short ‘op ed’ piece I wrote for the Melbourne newspaper, The Age, in 1997. It points out some of the fundamental contradictions of school systems that readily address ‘the future’ rhetorically and as window-dressing but, thus far, have failed abysmally to understand (a) how central the futures dimension is to every aspect of education and (b) how the approaching global emergency undermines more conservative and traditional approaches.

The Biggest Wake Up Call in History


For the past year or so I’ve been working on project with the above title. I chose it because, rather than viewing the emerging planetary crisis merely in fatalistic or downbeat terms, I wanted to see if it was possible to re-frame it in a more positive light. Like most others who’ve been paying attention, I acknowledge the seriousness of our situation and also the fact that it could indeed bring the whole human enterprise to a relatively sudden and ignominious end. Given our careless uses of the environment and our penchant for ignoring planetary limits that, certainly, is the diminished future toward which many trends point.

Yet, as has been known for a long time, ‘trend is not destiny.’ With our in-built capacities for foresight, forward thinking, anticipation and choice, there’s still time to come to grips with our predicament and to change direction. Human destiny is not set in stone. We are perhaps the only animals that can see emerging futures clearly enough to make decisions about how our everyday modus operandi can affect our collective prospects for good or ill. The big question seems to be ‘can we change course in time?’ There’s plenty of evidence to support both ‘yes’ and ‘no’ answers.

As I discovered during my research, this fact provides a vital clue. While many continue to be entranced by the latest technological wonders – currently iPads and 3D televisions – the keys to our future lie elsewhere. But, as I reviewed a broad range of hard copy and on-line material, I found surprisingly few pointers to that widely overlooked territory.

The Biggest Wake Up Call in History is an attempt to apply what I’ve learned over some three decades of futures and foresight work. Ironically, therefore, I had to set aside nearly all of the ‘futures literature’ and to scan more widely than ever before. As a result this work makes reference to many different fields of enquiry. Key questions that arose were: how can so many contributions fit together within a coherent whole? Also, how can many different kinds of truth be honoured and adjudicated? There’s never likely to be an answer to such questions that will satisfy everyone. Pluralism reigns. The culture wars continue – both within nations and between different cultural spheres. Nor will the post-modern tendency to critique everything subside overnight. Complexity, pluralism and difference are here to stay. That said, a method that can handle such challenges is a vital part of any credible attempt to respond to a world in deep crisis.

I’ve found an Integral perspective useful as it is perhaps most able to provide a panoramic and in-depth view of the issues and concerns before us. As a perspective and method it is far from static. It is a process that evolves and changes from year to year. To the extent the present work succeeds, it is to no little extent a result of the power, depth and inclusiveness that this perspective offers.

The work will be published in eBook, PDF and hard copy formats. In the meantime here are two ‘tasters’ of what is to come – a draft introduction and chapter outline. To access the full work, you may want to bookmark this weblog and check back from time to time. Please also note that I’ve provided a visual intro and overview of the book on the page here that also carries the same title. To access it just click on the relevant entry on the upper right section of this front page. Another page records some of the early comments received in response to pre-publication drafts.

Introduction To open click here

Overview of chapters To open click here