Back to futures: futures studies and its role in addressing the great civilisational challenges

Notes or commentaries


van der Laan, Luke. 2020. "Back to futures: futures studies and its role in addressing the great civilisational challenges." Human Futures.
Article Title

Back to futures: futures studies and its role in addressing the great civilisational challenges

Article CategoryNotes or commentaries
Authors
Authorvan der Laan, Luke
Publication TitleHuman Futures
Number of Pages3
Year2020
Web Address (URL)https://wfsf.org/communications/wfsf-magazines
Abstract

Concern for human futures can arguably be said to be at its most urgent in the history of humanity. Viable alternative human futures seem to be on the decline as emergencies that threaten humanity increase. The climate emergency announced by 11000 scientists recently as published in the journal BioScience is the most obvious. It declares that the climate crisis “has arrived” and is “accelerating faster than most scientists expect”, causing “untold human suffering”.
Climate change and its negative consequences aside, what other existential threats to humanity are current? These too may have been broadly reported but done so largely in isolation. They include exponential increases in; human migration, digital colonisation, organised crime, weapons with mass effect, natural disasters, chance of major conflict, fragmented communities (decreasing social cohesion), mental health pathologies, commoditisation of essential natural resources (including water, wind and sun), unregulated information spaces, pandemics, unregulated genomic editing, automation and inequality amongst others. There is good reason for even the most pragmatic and advanced futures thinkers to default to dystopia given the possibility that all these (and those yet to emerge) converge into the greatest civilizational threat humanity has ever faced. Foresight can make a difference but as Godet correctly points out foresight “is not widely practiced by decision makers because when things are going well, they can manage without it, and when things are going badly, it is too late to see beyond the ends of their noses”

Keywordsforesight; futures studies; civilisational challenge
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020350718. Strategy
Public Notes

Human Futures April 2019 Issue by WFSF is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Byline AffiliationsSchool of Education
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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