Alum Merritt publishes TrendsWatch 2015

Founding Director of the Center for the Future of Museums and alum from our January 2010 certificate course, Elizabeth Merritt, just released the 4th annual report called TrendsWatch 2015.

In this year’s edition she delves into:2015trendswatchcover

  • Open data
  • The rise of ethical consumerism, powered by the web & by social media
  • Personalization of products, services, communications and experiences
  • Rising sea levels
  • Wearable technology in all its permutations
  • Slow culture

Each section introduces the trend, what it means for society in general and museums in particular, gives examples of organizations adapting to the trend, and suggests how museums might want to respond.

TrendsWatch 2015 will also be available as a print edition in the AAM Bookstore sometime in March. Check their webpage for updates.

Introducing Maria Romero as the New Foresight GA

romeroThe baton has passed to a new GA this Spring – introducing Maria Romero!

Maria is a full-time student living on campus in her first year in the Foresight program. She was able to step in on short notice, when Omar, the previous GA, had to pack up for Paris to do an internship with Riel Miller at UNESCO.

Maria is originally from Valencia, Venezuela and after high school moved to Caracas, where she got two bachelor’s degrees, one in Sociology and the second in Mass Communication. She has worked in a lot of different places from Procter and Gamble in Planning and Strategy to a recent experience as a consultant for a research about Youth and Democracy in Venezuela. In her spare time she loves travel – and she’s been been in 20 countries and several cities of the US

Please join me in welcoming Maria to this important role for the Foresight Program. Andy Hines

Student Scanning: “If it moves, it’s alive!”

[NOTE: We will occasionally be featuring some blog posts from student scanning hits in World futures class.].

Up until now there were two predominant ways to effectively search for extraterrestrial life. For very far away worlds, planet hunters execute a spectrographic analysis of a planet’s atmosphere. Different chemical compositions would emit different light in specific wavelengths and in this way we could know if there is water, or even metabolical byproducts of life or industry present. In a more tactile situation (such as a rover on Mars), a standard chemical analysis could be made. Both of these methods rely heavily on chemistry.

However, along with other collaborators, scientist at the University of Lausanne devised a new approach: Scanning for vibrations which would indicate metabolic movement and processes! A nano-sample of whatever is suspected to be life harboring, is deposited onto a nano-sized cantilever which scans it with a laser more than once. In a sense it makes a sequence of images which are then used to detect nanomotion. For those into scientific jargon the whole thing would sound something like this: “We have devised a nanomotion detector to study these fluctuations and to associate them to the metabolic activity of the specimens,” says the scientists[1].

Just as exciting is its application for the pharmaceutical industry: Antibiotic and cancer drugs are both supposed to kill malevolent cells in the body. New drugs can now be tested in this way to see if they are really up to the challenge.

So, in space or lab – if it moves it is (still) alive!  – Johann Shutte


Announcing the April 17-18 Spring Gathering Agenda for Technology Acceleration

We’re getting excited about the Spring Gathering this year as alum John Smart, President of Acceleration Studies Foundation ( is leading us through a day on “Technology Acceleration” on Saturday April 18. Of course, we’ll do dinner and margaritas at Goode’s Tacqueria, followed by a visit to a local Hookah place on Friday — and close the weekend with a pool party/BBQ at Andy’s on Saturday night after the conference. See all the details and agenda here: Houston Foresight 2015 Gathering Flyer.

It’s an opportunity for us to really dive into the technological advances that will be shaping our future and discuss their implications with futurist colleagues. We’ll have a mix of students, alums, faculty, prospects, and do feel free to bring a guest.  It’s also a tradition that we do this weekend face-to-face, so that we can get to know one another better and also to provide our online colleagues a best time of year to visit.

So, please do make your reservations if you’re coming from out of town, and mark your calendar if you’re local, and we’ll  have our best Spring Gathering yet. Please RSVP (or ask questions) to Andy Hines

Fast Future looking for research help

It’s always good to know that there are some jobs out there! Fast Future is looking for one or two full-time research associates. The roles could be conducted from anywhere in the world. The tasks will be very varied and include: researching content in support of our client presentations; developing draft presentations; research in support of our client studies; working on our irregular newsletter; participating in or special projects; contributing to our social media activity; undertaking a variety of marketing tasks; other stuff that comes up as required; generally being a bright sort and imaginative egg. The relevant individuals will be working from their own premises with regular skype contact and the occasional face to face meeting if possible. I am also open to the idea of people working with us on a part time basis. Contact Rohit Talwar <> –Andy Hines

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Congrats to Fall and Summer 2014 Graduates

Before we get too deep into the Spring 2015, I’d like to acknowledge our graduates from the Fall and Summer of 2014. One of the challenges of now being full-time with the program is getting closer to the students – only to have them leave. That is the goal, of course, but it is a little sad nonetheless. The espirit d ’corps of our community is a strong and attractive feature of the program.

The photos are [roughly] in the order of when these new alums joined the program (L to R): Heather Schlegel, April Koury, D’Shaun Guillory, Karl Irish, Mackenzie Dickson, Laura Schlehuber, Alex Clouse.

class of 14 fall summer

The veteran of the group is Heather Schlegel, who joined us in the Spring of 2010. As happens to many of our part-time students, we almost lost her when she took a job with Swift for a year. But she came came back and finished, despite a huge tug from the media for her views on the future. Among her many accomplishments in the program, she won the 2012/13 APF Student Recognition Award for “Success: The Human Problem.”

April Koury joined us in the Fall of 2012. She was a Graduate Assistant with us for a year, which means she played a prominent role if the lives of fellow students. She helped me a great deal on getting the Houston Futures website and blog in good order. She completed an internship with Christian Crews of Andspace before graduating.

And now we have a cohort, the class of the Spring of 2013: D’Shaun GuilloryKarl Irish, Mackenzie Dickson, and Laura Schlehuber. Not only did the come in together, but they stuck together throughout their time in the program. I still have an image of this group, and a few others, huddled together at a table at an APF conference. I’m proud of them for that. We preach the value of getting involved with the professional futurist community, and this group took the challenge. It showed up in the internships they got, Mackenzie going to Paris to intern with Riel Miller and UNESCO, Karl and D’Shaun with Alternative Futures Associates (aka Institute for Alternative Futures), D’Shaun also doing one with the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies, and Laura with Andspace as well as with Stephen Aguilar-Milan and EUFO.

Alex Clouse is the first grad from the Fall of 2013. Quite amazing, that she finished in two years! Very few have been able to manage that. It takes an incredible amount of discipline to manage a full-time load for that period of time and not have your head explode!

I should also note that April, Mackenzie, and Laura were part of the Student Needs 2025+ research team. I am hoping we can do more of these kinds of projects and I appreciate their involvement.

I am going to miss ‘em, but I am also confident that they will stay involved as part of our extended community. Congratulations alums, and keep in touch! Andy Hines

Faculty/Alum Whittington Publishes “Family vacation 2050″

Adjunct Faculty and alum Alexandra Whittington just had an article — “Family Vacation 2050” – published in a special issue of Tourism Recreation Research journal on “The Journey to 2050.” Incidentally, this special issue was co-guest-edited by Albert whittingtonPostma, who attend our week-long certificate course in Brussels last year. (We are everywhere!).

The article identifies major technological and social uncertainties relevant to the future of family travel and explores them using the deductive 2×2 matrix scenario process. The four scenarios offer possibilities that contain specific opportunities, threats and challenges to the family travel industry in 2050. Key change drivers include the demographic growth of unmarried, unattached, non-cohabiting individuals (“singletons”) and the availability of technologically advanced virtual reality consumer experiences.

It is great to see Alex in print. In addition to teaching two undergraduate classes for us, she is the program manager for the week-long certificate program in her spare time. Andy Hines

Reflecting on the Fall 2014 Semester

Some thoughts on the Fall semester that went by all too fast! We may have witnessed Dr. Bishop’s last class, but I don’t think we’d be surprised if he comes back. He’s still part of the Certificate program, but his primary attention now is with Teach the Future.

We also had several students graduate (we’ll cover this in a separate post).

We had several guests join us physically and virtually over the fall.

  • On August 25th, alum Christian Crews of Andspace Consulting ran an Implications session on campus ably assisted by interns April Koury and Laura Schlehuber.
  • On October 6th, alum Morgan Kauffman gave an “Intro to Systems Thinking” lecture to the Intro class. Morgan is going to be teaching the Systems Thinking class this spring.
  • October 16th, alum Jim Lee talked about “Cycles, Values, and Expression,” as a guest lecture for Dr. Frewen’s Social Change class.
  • On October 27th, former faculty Wendy Schultz of Infinite Futures discussed “Images of the Future” for Alternative Perspectives class.
  • On November 4th, student Mackenzie Dickson shared his experience as an intern with UNESCO’s foresight group under the tutelage of futurist Riel Miller with Alternative Perspectives class. He discussed the action learning approach as part of developing Futures Literacy Knowledge Laboratories.
  • On November 10, Advisory Board member Clem Bezold of the Institute for Alternative Futures, presented his “Aspirational Futures” method for the Alternative Perspectives Class.

The program also went on the road a few times.

  • On September 10th, a group of students attend the debate at the UH University Center Theater on 0 US Energy Independence: Good for the Nation? (see:
  • On September 26th, Dr. Hines, Jim Breaux, Katie King, Laura Schlehuber, and Omar Sahi traveled to the Lumina Foundation in Indianapolis to brief the Student Needs 2025+ project to the client.
  • On November 14th, Dr. Hines, assisted by Omar Sahi and Jason Crabtree, led an “Introduction to Foresight” workshop for the Texas chapter of the QRCA (Qualitative Research Consultants Association) at Connexxion Research in Houston.


Be sure to “Save the Dates” of April 17-18, 2015   for our annual “family” Gathering. This year the topic is  “Technology Acceleration” and it is being led by alum John Smart.

Also, thanks to Omar for being a great grad assistant this spring! — Andy Hines

Alumni Emily Empel joins Idea Couture as Co-Head of Strategic Foresight

emilyWe just heard some exciting news from  recent alumnus Emily Empel. Emily is now the  Co-Head of Strategic Foresight for Idea Couture, a strategic innovation and design firm in Toronto, Canada.

Emily leaves her Workforce Futurist position at the Walt Disney Company, where she had been actively involved in expanding the company’s foresight and trends practice.  Emily is particularly excited to make the transition from the corporate world into the wider world of futures consulting with Idea Couture.

We would like to congratulate Emily on her new position and wish her the best of luck in Toronto!

Professional Contact Information for Emily is as follows

Twitter – @localrat

E- mail –

LinkedIN – Emily Empel

APF Most Significant Futures Works Program 2015

One of my favorite things I do as a futurist is to help coordinate the APF’s Most Significant Futures Works program. It is an opportunity to recognize the outstanding work of futurists and others exploring the future. It is also vitally important that we spread the word about good foresight work, so the public and potential clients know what it looks like….and want more of it.

The program kicked off in 2008 with a retrospective recognition of outstanding futures works from the past. Since then, it’s been an annual event (with a “pause” in 2010 and 2011) in which judges recognize outstanding works in three categories:

  • Category 1 Advance the methodology and practice of foresight and futures studies
  • Category 2 Analyze a significant future issue
  • Category 3 Illuminate the future through literary or artistic works.

To get the ball rolling this year, I have nominated two works (in Category 1 and 3):

Nominations are restricted to APF members, but if anyone has come across a great piece of foresight work, let me know ( and I’ll explore getting it nominated. Check out the previous winners. Note how many program faculty and alums (in red) are represented among the winners — keep up the good work. —Andy Hines

Past MSFW Award Winners

2014 Awards
Category 1 Advance the methodology and practice of foresight and futures studies
1. Teaching about the Future , Peter Bishop & Andy Hines

  1. The Five Futures Glasses: How to See and Understand More of the Future with the Eltville Model, Pero Micic
    3. (tie):

Category 2 Analyze a significant future issue
1. Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World, Emma Marris

2013 Awards
Category 1 Advance the methodology and practice of foresight and futures studies

  1. Foresight Maturity Model,Terry Grim
  2. A New Methodology for Anticipating STEEP Surprises, Oliver Markley
  3. Seeing in Multiple Horizons: Connecting Futures to Strategy, Andrew Curry and Anthony Hodgson

Category 2 Works that Contribute to the Understanding of the Future of a Significant Area

  1. Anticipatory Governance: Practical Upgrades, Leon Fuerth with Evan Faber
  2. 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next 40 Years, Jorgen Randers

Category 3 Presents New Images of the Future

  1. Food for the City , Stroom den Haag
2012 Awards
Category 1 Advance the methodology and practice of foresight and futures studies

  1. It’s Your Future… Make It a Good One! Verne Wheelwright
  2. The Black Swan , Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Category 2 Analyze a significant future issue
1. Prosperity Without Growth: Transition to a Sustainable Economy, Professor Tim Jackson
2. The Biggest Wake Up Call in History, Richard Slaughter

Category 3: Illuminate the future through literary or artistic works
1. “Evoke!” Jane McGonigal

2009 Awards
  1. SuperStruct,” IFTF/Jane McGonigal, Jamais Cascio & Kathi Vian
  2. Integral Futures,” edited by Richard Slaughter, Peter Hayward (APF), Joseph Voros
  3. Six Pillars: Futures Thinking for Transforming,” Sohail Inayatullah

Honorable mentions were awarded to three others.

2008 “Retrospective” Awards