Futures Literacy: Why it matters

Futures Literacy: Why it matters

This year I have been working with a number of diverse groups that want some futures literacy support. They are very aware of the complex challenges of today’s world but don’t know what to do about these challenges!

Often the conversations revolve around strategies and tools in the strategic foresight space that might help leaders be more futures oriented. I start by explaining that the conversation is about futures not the future. Futures literacy focuses on exploring widely in order to anticipate possibilities, rather than predicting what will happen.

What is Futures Literacy?

Futures literacy is described by UNESCO as:

FL is a capability. It is the skill that allows people to better understand the role of the future in what they see and do. Being futures literate empowers the imagination, enhances our ability to prepare, recover and invent as changes occur.

They highlight a number of reasons that Futures Literacy (FL) is so important, as you can see in the diagram below.

Growing a Futures Literate City…

In Ōtautahi Christchurch we have established the Ōtautahi Futures Collective to grow our network of people who have trained in futures studies and basic strategic foresight. I have been working with a second group who will join the collective in a few weeks. The Leadership element of the diagram is particularly relevant in this space I think, as we seek to to grow leadership futures. There are so many amazing tools and strategies that are used in the strategic foresight space but most importantly they are underpinned by a futures mindset, intense scrutiny of assumptions and the ability to explore the fringes of possibility.

I have been pondering what a futures literate city might look like and how we can define and describe it so it is easily understood. I’d be interested in your thoughts?

Lex · August 6, 2021

The opportunity of a futures literate city are enormous! I love how futures work situates thinking and creating in a sustainable iterative framework – rather than as a future that can be ‘ticked off’ until we are forced to react again.
It gives expression, tools and language to open and creative growth and planning!

Cheryl Doig · December 10, 2021

Thinking about 2021 how might we work together to expand the idea of a futures literate city? There sure is some energy being generated through Ōtautahi Futures Collective.


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