Futures Studies

Illustration from Maritime Futures 2035: The Arctic Region (Blair & Müller-Stoffels, 2018).

Science and policy must work in tandem to innovate and to anticipate upcoming changes in social / technological / environmental contexts. My work addresses this demand by incorporating futures perspectives, using a variety of approaches on a case-by-case basis.

Futures studies / foresight is a form of mental time travel. It is the process of anticipating and engaging in long-term strategic thinking. It aims to increase our understanding about the relationship between our actions and thinking of today and the plausible future of systems -be it social, ecological or industrial/sectoral systems. While no one can foresee the future, by trying to imagine, to anticipate and collecting intelligence about it, we can harness the power inherent in the uncertainty surrounding it. There is a wide range of foresight approaches and methodologies -from analytical-descriptive to strategic-prescriptive- but they all rely on collaboration and collective imagination.

Futures literacy elevates the foresight approach by proposing that our present thinking is inherently biased with what is currently knowable. It suggests that deterministic forecasting of future states can result in colonizing the future with existing systems. A futures literacy approach proposes to imagine different futures with the awareness that our very state of anticipation is filled with assumptions. When people are aware of such assumptions they can become skilled at opening up to imagine the unexpected, the invisible, the most novel phenomena.

Visit the ICEWISE Simulation page, or check out these publications from my futures projects:

Blair, B. and Muller-Stoffels, M. (2019). Maritime Futures 2035: The Arctic Region: Workshop Report & Technical Documentation. Wageningen University. [URL]

Blair, B., Lee, O. A., & Lamers, M. (2020). Four Paradoxes of the User–Provider Interface: A Responsible Innovation Framework for Sea Ice Services. Sustainability, 12(2), 448.

Preston, B.L., Lovecraft, A.L., Cost, D., Blair, B, Lee, O., Hillmer-Pegram, K., Wesche, S., Hum, R., Absar, M., Ernst, K., Fresco, N. (2017). Scenarios Thinking for the Bering / Chukchi / Beaufort Region. In Adaptation Actions for a Changing Arctic. Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) of the Arctic Council, Oslo, Norway. [URL]

Lovecraft, A.L., Fresco, N., Cost, D., Blair, B. (2018). Northern Alaska Scenarios Project Report. International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks. [URL]