Introducing Omar Sahi as the new GA

omarThe baton has passed to a new GA this fall – introducing Omar Sahi!

Omar is a full-time student in his second year in the Foresight program. He has conducted research on the future of personal photography and the future of news media thus far in the program. He was also a member of the Student Needs 2025 team, doing research as well as some design. He has a background in the Fine Arts with a BFA from the Studio for Interrelated Media at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Still recovering from a nomadic childhood spent between Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Italy, The Netherlands, Canada and The United States, Omar spends most of his time speculating about the future, identity, art, and sapience.

Omar succeeds April Koury, who is graduating this fall after doing an internship with Andspace Consulting. Please join me in welcoming Omar to this important role for the Foresight Program. Andy Hines

Future of Education: Goodbye, Summer Vacation


I squeezed onto CNBC yesterday with  a few comments as part of “Will the college bubble burst: ; this is the written version: Sharon Epperson, “A higher-ed bubble even bigger than student loans, Sept 11, 2014, Redesign of the Traditional Classroom

Now, for the stuff that didn’t get aired. Here are some of the note I made in prepping for the appearance:

  1. Goodbye, Summer (Vacation)The current push to lengthen the school year beyond the 180 days that is typical in the U.S. will become reality by 2040. Already, the President and lawmakers are calling for a longer school year, pointing to other countries that are more competitive.

[My response] I would be surprised if it took that long. A major theme we found in our recent research on students needs in 2025 that we did for Lumina Foundation was that the whole notion of dedicated schedules is increasingly being called into question. The larger social trend behind this is the Death of the Schedule. It’s really a move into an on-demand and just-in-time world where we use technology to do things when we want, and are less restricted by when things are available according to some schedule that no longer makes sense in today’s world.

The simple example is watching television, where on-demand programming means people watch their program at their convenience, not according to a network schedule. This is bleeding into education, higher education first — where online learning/distance education makes it possible for students to learn at their convenience, not only when a class is offered in a 3 hour time slot once a week. The vast bulk of learning activities can be conducted asynchronously, or at the student’s convenience, and then f2f discussions or evaluations can be scheduled as needed and when it is mutually convenient.

This will create some interesting challenges for instructors. It’s obviously easier for us when all students are available at the same time and place, as opposed to having arrange individual meetings, but that is the evolution of the teaching role. Lectures can be recorded, so it’s less about that, and more about “coaching” and personalized instruction. It really changes the dynamic of being a teacher. It will take longer for this shift to happen in K-12 as the logistics of doing that are much more complicated. The fact that kids are in school during the day while parents are working is a convenient thing for parents. It’s really not necessary from a learning perspective for kids to sit in classrooms all day for standard amounts of time. University students are more responsible for their own time, so it works easier there.

We’ll put much more thought into when everyone needs to be there, rather than just require it “just because.” Students can do work that lends itself to alone time, and then come together in groups or a full class when it makes sense to do so. Andy Hines

Houston Chronicle interviews Andy Hines on Student Needs 2025+

Those who have been following our blog might be familiar with the Future Of Student Needs: 2025 and Beyond project. The Houston Foresight program recruited a team of students and alums to prepare a report which seeks to anticipate the needs of future students in order to increase college completion rates. After months of work, we are preparing to present the report to the Lumina Foundation later this month.Houston Chronicle

The Houston Chronicle recently sat down with Andy Hines to discuss the report and share a little bit about what we have learned about the future of higher education in the process. The future continues to look promising for those taking the traditional path to college in the year 2025, but they may not be the ones Universities are primarily catering to! To read the interview click here.

You can also learn more about the project or read a draft version of the report.

— Omar Sahi

“Teaching about the Future” wins the APF Most Significant Futures Works Award

Teaching about the Future was awarded first prize in the “methodology and practice” category in this year’s Association of Professional Futurists “Most Significant Futures Works” competition.

This textbook summarizes the HoMSFW award plaque 2014 v3uston Foresight program curriculum in a comprehensive yet readable fashion. We use it as the text for our “Introduction to Foresight” course as well as providing  it to those who take our week-long certificate course.

The book is organized into three parts:

  • Part One, Understanding, contains the conceptual backdrop to thinking about the future.
  • Part Two, Mapping, describes how to construct forecasts of potential future outcomes or alternative futures.
  • Part Three, Influencing, explores how to take action to shape the future.

Individual topics range from the basics of scanning, forecasting, visioning, and planning to social change, systems thinking, and alternative perspectives.
It is an honor to have professional colleagues recognize our work. Among the comments from the judges:

  • “The book represents a milestone in academia generally by successfully ‘bridging the gap’ between theory and practice.”
  • “Grounded in many years of practice, Teaching about the Future frames the futures field beautifully.  The book’s structure and style render the material eminently accessible to a variety of audiences.”

The awarded was presented at the APF reception in Orlando on July 12. Andy Hines

Student Needs 2025+: Draft Final Report

Today, college students are encouraged to find work-life-school balance. In 2025, such a concept will be obsolete because work, life, school, and play will be one in the same. This is just one of the mind-bending takeaways that emerged from our Student Needs 2025+ project. After months of research and discussion from UH Foresight students and alums, I am proud to share a draft version of The Future of Student Needs: 2025 and Beyond. I (Andy) will present the findings to the Lumina Foundation with four project team students: Jim Breaux (now an alum) Katie King, Laura Schlehuber, and Omar Sahi later this month.

In the meantime, we’re sharing the draft version of the report.

Key themes

Following our Framework Foresight method, we identified baseline and alternative scenarios, which we then analyzed for cross-cutting patterns. Four themes were identified:

1.  A shift in balance of power from institutions toward students. The balance of power shifting toward balance for blogstudents means they will increasingly be dictating what needs to be “produced” rather than the institutions doing so.


2. A “blurring” between the six domains that makes them difficult to distinguish and thus difficult to addresblurring for blogs in isolation. As Cody Clark put it, “it’s all play” in 2025. Work, play, and school will all intersect and rely on one another.


3. An emergence of IT/AI technologies that are both parto f the “problem” – that is they drive change – and thIT AI for bloge “solution” – that is they offer great potential for addressing student needs. The growing capabilities of a vast array of information and communication technologies are the single biggest driver of change across the six domains. Put simply, in looking at how student life is changing, there is no bigger driver than the growing influence of information technologies


4. A set of “social” or non-technological issues must be “dealt with” for the alternatives to occur as described. The teams questioned their assumptions and looked for ways that the growing influence of information technology might not happen, and found little to stop it beyond economic collapse. There are social issues, such as personal security in cyberspace or the security of the Internet itself related to technologies that could slow progress, but they are not likely to stop it.

The emerging needs

We generated more than 300 needs using three different approaches that then went through several rounds of combining, modifying and clustering. We separated out historical and current needs and focused on the future, in order to arrive at this final set of nine emerging needs:

  1. Re-skilling: students need to know what skills they will need and how to master them
  2. Mentoring: students need personalized guidance on what to do next and on other life lessons
  3. Continuous and real-time feedback: students need to know how they are doing so they can continuously improve in order to “keep up” and move forward
  4. Frameworks (for navigating new uncertainties): students need to know what to do in various situations, particularly novel ones
  5. Credentials: students need to document knowledge, skills and experiences acquired
  6. Experiences:  students need contact with people and the world that teach by doing
  7. Personalized instruction: students need the means to acquire relevant knowledge and skills customized to their individual style
  8. Spaces, tools, and templates: students need physical and virtual supportive environments and tools for pursuing and acquiring knowledge and skills
  9. Differentiation: students need to find and communicate their personal value proposition that distinguishes “who they are.”

There is much, much more. Just a few tidbits to whet your appetite. Andy Hines

Andspace runs implications session with Foresight students

crews photoChristian Crews, April Koury, and Laura Schlehuber of Andspace Consulting visited the Houston Foresight program on August 25th to run an implications sessions with students. Christian is a program alum and hired on April and Laura as interns. The students who participated were program “veterans” Omar Sahi, Kurt Callaway, Fatema Tuz Zorah; new students jason Crabtree, and Rachel young; Nathaniel Hernandez who is doing the Foresight graduate certificate; and retailing major Paola Pena who is taking a couple of foresight classes this fall.

Christian introduced himself and briefly described his “futurist journey.”  He introduced the project they are doing for the Institute of Food Technology project and the methodology they are using. They are using the futures wheels to brainstorm/forecast around some trends. He noted the value of this session is getting fresh views to help the client get outside their “official future.”

He briefed several trends they identified through their research, though he noted that they are considered “weak signals” from the viewpoint of the client, who are likely less aware of them than futurists might be. He also talked about the Verge framework that takes a more human centric view of trends.

The group then split in half to generate the implications of the trends for the next hour-plus. The approach used the futures wheels to generation 3 orders of implications along a time scale

  • The 1st order changes were roughly one to three years out
  • The 2nd order changes were roughly four to seven years out
  • The 3rd order changes were 7 years or further out

It was a terrific blend of real experience and getting some tips and pointers from Christian, one of the great practitioners in the foresight field today, ably assisted by April and Laura! Andy Hines

Cecily Sommers joins Foresight Program Advisory Board

I am pleased to announce the addition of futurist Cecily Sommers to the Houston Foresight Program’s Advisory Board.

Cecily Sommers_HeadshotI was introduced to Cecily by friend-of-the-program Derek Woodgate several years ago when she was leading the Push Institute and have been following her work ever since. We re-connected a year ago at the APF’s Professional Development Day on “Professionalization” in Chicago. I explained how I was taking over as the Program Coordinator, and she generously offered to provide some coaching. She led me through a visioning-planning mini-retreat at her home base in Minneapolis that proved extremely helpful to me in developing a revised vision and a strategic plan for the program. We check in regularly and I think it is about time that she officially join our Advisory Board.

Cecily speaks, writes, and consults on emerging trends, markets, and technologies shaping our future. She is the author of Think Like a Futurist: Know What Changes, What Doesn’t, and What’s Next, which was nominated as an APF Most Significant Futures Work. As I mentioned she was the founder of The Push Institute, a non-profit think tank that routinely put on excellent conferences.

She is a frequent contributor to Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” and other media outlets. She was named by the Business Journal as one of twenty‐five “Women to Watch,” and selected as one of Fast Company‘s “Fast 50 Reader Favorites.”

Please join me in welcoming her to the Houston Foresight community! Andy Hines



The UH Foresight program is very happy to announce a “bonus” fall 2014 offering of the foresight certificate course.  Space is limited for this special seminar, which  coincides with the special issue of THE FUTURIST magazine (Sept./Oct. 2014) on Futures Education.  Houston faculty, alumni and  students are featured authors in the issue:

  • Collaborative Futures Education, Peter Bishop
  • Foresight in Middle School: Teaching the Future For the Future, Katie King

There is even a section devoted to THE HOUSTON EXPERIENCE, including Richard Yonck’s essay about the certificate program itself:

  • Transforming a Graduate Futures Program, University of Houston, Oliver Markley
  • A Training Ground for Professional Futurists, Andy Hines
  • Inside the Houston Futures Strategic Foresight Program, Richard Yonck

The UH Foresight certificate program is a 5-day, project-based, face-to-face workshop. Participants learn to anticipate disruptive change and work towards the creation of transformational change in order to influence the future of their organizations, companies and communities. Participants will receive a Certificate in Foresight and four (4) CEUs (Continuing Education Units) from the University of Houston for attending the seminar. Students can also obtain a separate departmental Certificate of Achievement in Foresight if they complete a foresight project after program delivery.

When:  October 6-10, 2014
Where:  University of Houston, UH Hilton, West Wing Hilton Conference Center 105
Registration:  Cost is $3000

Deadline to register is September 15, 2014.*

Space is limited to 20 students.

For more information and to register, visit:

*If the course does not make by the Sept. 15 deadline, a full refund will be issued .

Lodging: UH Hilton, conference rate code is “TECH” for rate of $189 (must be reserved by Sept. 5)

Contact Dr. Andy Hines ( with questions about course content, or Alexandra Whittington ( for registration assistance.


Jason Swanson Appointed Director of Strategic Foresight at Knowledge Works

Jason Swanson

Jason Swanson

We are so pleased to announce that recent grad Jason Swanson has been appointed the Director of Strategic Foresight at Knowledge Works in Cincinnati. Knowledge works is a “social enterprise focused on creating sustainable improvement in student readiness for college and careers.” The Senior Director of Strategic Foresight, Katherine Prince, attended the May 2013 Certificate in Foresight class in Houston and last spring participated in our Student Needs 2025+ meeting in which we presented our forecasts and worked on implications. Katherine and Knowledge Works are doing great work on the future of education. For instance, check out this terrific thought piece that Katherine put out called “Glimpses of the Future of Education.”

Jason was a terrific student in the Houston Foresight program, often going above and beyond the regular curriculum to gain valuable experience. He interned with Mike Courtney and Aperio Insights and with Stephen Aguilar Milan of EUFO. He has presented at WFS the last two years and was recently named an Emerging Fellow with APF. In addition to bringing his foresight degree to the table, Jason has a work background in the education space, spending the last six years with PALCS (Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School).

It is truly rewarding to see students land great opportunities and we are confident he will be a great addition to Knowledge Works. Congratulations, Jason!                        —  Andy Hines


Live from Orlando….It’s the “Best of Houston”

It’s nice to be able to share some video footage of our students (and profs) in action from the World Future Society Conference earlier this month in Orlando — thanks to student (now Adjunct Faculty) Jim Breaux! It’s a “pad” production but the quality is good enough to get a good feel for how our students presented.

First, I talk a bit about what’s happening with the program and then Peter talks about the history of our “Best of Houston” session at the WFS:

Next, Laura Schlehuber kicks of the student presentations with “The Future of Measuring National Performance”

Kurt Callaway follows Laura with “The Harvesting of Space Resources:”

Finally, Jim Breaux closes us out with the “Future of Emergency Preparedness: Using Futures Wheels:”

Enjoy our students in action! Andy