Houston Foresight Produces On the Horizon Special Issue: Student Needs 2025

Houston Foresight advances its endeavor to produce high-quality foresight work that helps businesses, governments, institutions and even students anticipate and prepare for the future by publishing 11 out of 13 articles featured in On the Horizon’s 2017 special issue: Student needs 2025 and beyond. Production of this collaborative work by UH faculty, students and alumni on behalf of Lumina Foundation points to emerging student needs with respect to a student’s life as a whole and the innovative responses required to address them.

The articles contributed by Houston Foresighters to this On the Horizon special issue are:

  • “Why student needs” – by Andy Hines (UH faculty) and Juan Suarez (Lumina Foundation project sponsor), pp. 141-144 — highlights three ways in which the study on student needs took a unique view of higher education, centered around a theme of focusing on student as opposed to institutional needs.
  • “Framework foresight for exploring emerging student needs” – Andy Hines, pp. 145-156 — demonstrates how the Framework Foresight method can be effectively used for exploring the future of a topic such as student needs.
  • “The future of student life: living” – Maria Romero (alumni), pp. 157-160 — points to shifting values relative to student health and wellbeing.
  • “The future of student life: learning” – Katie King (alumni), pp. 161-164 — suggests students will increasingly gravitate toward new learning models focused on experiential learning, personalized learning and non-traditional education systems if needed.
  • “The future of student life: working” – Jason Swanson (alumni), pp. 165-168 — touches on the critical uncertainty posed by AI, automation and general technological advances and how they will reshape work.
  • “The future of student life: playing” – Laura Schlehuber (alumni), pp. 169-172 — explores how purposeful play is spreading into virtual space.
  • “The future of student life: connecting” – James Breaux (alumni), pp.  173-176 — finds that students will become increasingly connected to their extended families, communities and AI, using technological interfaces to facilitate such connections.
  • “The future of student life: participating” – Johanne Schutte (alumni), pp. 177-180 — proposes hacking as a form of civic participation, points to ways in which students may become actively engaged in civic life, including through the use of hacking, and purports the need for strategic reconciliation between hackers and the hacked for the greater good of society.
  • “Nine emerging student needs” – Andy Hines, pp. 181-189 — indicates that nine emerging needs of future students could be used strategically by higher education institutions to guide and inform planning, as well as to generate innovative ideas for university offerings.
  • “Future of student housing” – Yasamina McBride (student), pp. 190-196 — argues that many on-campus housing facilities meet the need of today’s students not those of future students increasingly attracted to technologically improving virtual classrooms, and recommends assessment of these trends by universities so as to make better choices for their campuses.
  • “Emerging student needs disrupting higher education”, pp. 197-208 – Andy Hines — points to two potential disruptive shifts for higher education (a shift in the balance of power from institutions toward students, and a shift in the purpose of higher education away from job preparation), and considers practical and social implications of these shifts.

Kimberly Daniels

Photo source: https://www.luminafoundation.org/fosn-insights

 

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Introducing Kimberly Daniels as the Fall 2017 Foresight GA

The baton has passed once again to a new GA this Fall – introducing Kimberly Daniels!

Kimberly is a full-time student that recently relocated to Houston after several years of doing development work in West Africa. She began the program a year ago, has already completed seven courses, and is in line to graduate in  Spring 2018. She has just landed an exciting year-long fellow position with KnowledgeWorks, so she is keeping herself quite busy. She recently completed an internship with the Forest Service on our Forestry Horizon Scanning project and has produced two impressive newsletters for them — as well as scanning and blogging.

Kimberly came to us with a Doctor of Strategic Leadership (DSL), Strategic Foresight concentration, in hand from Regent University, so we’re quite honored to have her in our student body. She continues her transformational community development work both stateside and overseas. And this year, she won an Honorable Mention in the APF Student Recognition Program for her outstanding project on “The Future of Poverty in Burkina Faso in 2030.”

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

 

The 2017 APF Seattle Gathering: Global Health Futures

Attendance by some at this year’s Association of Professional Futurists (APF) conference, held in Seattle, WA July 27-29, was delightfully nostalgic on one hand, and aspiringly forereaching on the other. Seattle was the original gathering location for the APF in 2002, the year it was founded, where this year’s agenda of exploring human health and well-being in relation to the earth and its ability to sustain us also involved a passing of the baton from veteran members to the next generation of APF’ers commissioned with the task of taking the organization forward into its next 15-year study of and practice with respect to the emerging future. Others in attendance, perhaps for the first time or following a number of recurrent times, were collectively enthused at this APF conference being in many ways exceptional with respect to pre-gathering tech-driven events, conference sessions and speakers, a post-gathering hiking event as well as the comradery among professional futurists, educators and students. As in prior years, foresight professionals, educators, alumni and students in association with the University of Houston’s (UH) Foresight Graduate program“Houston Foresight”— were populous in number among conference attendees, and perhaps, most excited by the outcome of Friday evening’s awards presentation in recognition of notable achievements in futures work.

In recognizing the futures work of professional futurists and those in academia, the APF strives to present models of excellence for emulation by foresight practitioners as well as for greater understanding by others. This year, the APF recognized people along three areas of achievement: APF Leadership, Most Significant Futures Work and outstanding student work—tier-awarded acknowledgement through the APF Student Recognition Program. The Houston Foresight community proudly accepted awards across each of the three areas of achievement.

APF Leadership

  • Dr. Peter Bishop: retired Associate Professor and Director of the UH Foresight Graduate Program, Founder and Director of Teach the Future  — recognition as a founding APF board member, creating/developing the APF Professional Development seminars, and for long-time service as the Membership Chair.
  • Jennifer Jarratt: UH Foresight Graduate Program Masters alumni, a Consultant/Coach with Leading Futurists — recognition as a  founding APF member, past Board Chair, first Membership Chair, and Chair of Professional Development and Nominating Committees.
  • Dr. Andy Hines: UH Foresight Graduate Program Masters alumni, Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator of the UH Foresight Graduate Program, speaker, workshop facilitator and consultant through his firm Hinesight — recognition as a founding APF member, first Board Chair, past Executive Director, Chair of the Most Significant Futures Work and Professionalization Task Force, and Compass editor.
  • Jim Matthews: UH Foresight Graduate Program Masters alumni, Founder of the Futures Network LLC — recognition as a founding APF member, Treasurer, first Chair of the Finance Committee, creating a stable financial system, and and Compass editor.

 

Most Significant Futures Work (among the dozen judges were UH Foresight Graduate Program Masters alum Jim Lee, Certificate alums Robin Jourdan, Liz Alexander and Dave Hamon, as well as Emeritus Professor Dr. Oliver Markley)

We salute Dr. Andy Hines as one of this year’s award winners. Dr. Hines’ submission falls under Category 1: Advance the methodology and practice of foresight and futures studies —

  • Let’s Talk about Success: A Proposed Foresight Outcomes Framework for Organizational Futurists, Andy Hines Journal of Futures Studies, June 2016, 20(4):1-20. Introduces a framework to help organizational futurists and their clients get clear on intended outcomes and the achievement of success involving the integration of foresight into the organization.“Significantly advances the foresight profession by helping to resolve one of the most vexing problems facing the professional futurist: “How to define and measure success at four inter-related levels (Practitioner, Project, Organizational, and Field), in each of three principal phases of futures work (Learning, Deciding and Acting).”

 

The Student Recognition Program (among the judges were UH  Foresight Graduate Program former Adjunct Professor Terry Grim, Masters alums Dr. Kay Strong and Dr. Verne Wheelright, and Certificate alum Dr. Liz Alexander).

Each of our three graduate student individual submissions won recognition for outstanding work by students in futures studies —

  • 2ND Place: The Future of Quantified Self – Personal Sensors and Analytics, Tim Morgan, UH Foresight Graduate Program Masters candidate.
  • Honorable Mention: The Future of Poverty in Burkina Faso, Kimberly Daniels, UH Foresight Graduate Program Masters candidate.
  • Honorable Mention: The Future of Outdoor Recreation, Bo Roe, UH Foresight Graduate Certificate Program.

A surprise for all present at the awards ceremony physically and online was the announcement of a new category of recognition, The Frewen Award, in honor of our very own Dr. Cindy Frewen, UH Foresight Graduate Program alum and Adjunct Professor, for 7 years of dedicated service as APF Board Chair. Under Dr. Frewen’s leadership, APF membership has grown to be 500 strong, and has expanded to include regional gatherings, professional development opportunities, the Compass, and online Futures Conference, and mentoring program and more.

Hats off to all of our Houston Foresight 2017 APF Award winners, and their strong contribution to the foresight field. And cheers to those in our foresight community already thinking about the 2018 APF Awards program and submissions for recognition of exceptional futures work.  —- Andy Hines and Kimberly Daniels

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Apple in the Forest

Foresight is about aligning decisions in the present with the future that is emerging, something Apple has been doing, to some extent, over the decades. At a time when technology began to dominate the global market, Apple must have understood the trends that were driving change, including mobile internet and web browsing, digital connectivity, LCD displays, palmtop computers, etc. The company’s decisions supporting iPhone, iPod and iPad innovations, to name a few, helped influence the future Apple desired, a future we’re living in today. But while these present-day technologies had been Apple’s core business, positioning Apple as the dominant global brand from 2011 to 2013, and again in 2015, it isn’t content being known as simply a hardware company, as “hardware, software and services” are combined to produce a cohesively whole business. What’s more, Apple appears to have some understanding, once again, of the emerging future—a future 10 to 30 years out, influenced by a present-day movement towards global sustainability.

Consider Apple’s joint-venture with Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology, the world’s largest producer of wind turbines, with respect to Apple’s commitment of “powering all of its facilities around the world with 100 percent renewable energy”. As well, take note of Apple’s 2017 Environmental Responsibility Report, which highlights Apple’s achievements and continuing efforts toward using only responsibly-sourced product packaging. Then, there’s Apple’s commitment to “stop mining the earth altogether” in moving towards a “closed-loop supply chain” or circular economy, whereby all new products will be made with 100% recycled materials. These are just two examples which show that Tim Cook isn’t producing the same type of Apple that we’ve seen before, but an Apple that engages foresight so as to align its “whole-business” activities with the emerging future. This, in a nutshell, is Apple’s story.

What does Apple’s move towards global sustainability mean relative to forest futures? For starters, in 2015 Apple announced a 5-year partnership with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) “to transition Chinese forests into responsible forest management by 2020”, including establishing long-term market incentives for producing responsibly sourced paper. Also in 2015, Apple purchased forestland in Maine and North Carolina through the Conservation Fund’s Working Forest Fund, allowing its use of renewable/regenerative resources for product packaging needs. Apple’s move towards sustainability in alignment with the emerging future is protecting “some of the world’s most important forests“—a step towards climate-change mitigation, and something for which future generations will appreciate. Kimberly Daniels

Photos 1 & 1 source: https://images.apple.com/environment/pdf/Apple_Environmental_Responsibility_Report_2017.pdf

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Houston Foresight Spring 2017 Newsletter

Just realized that I neglected to post the Spring Newsletter put out by our Department. This issue includes:

  • Foresight: A Description of the Field, by student Joe Murphy
  • Foresight Student Bes Baldwin to Intern at Evonik Creavis
  • Reflecting On Futurists In Media 2016
  • Congratulations to Our Fall 2016 Graduates: Gandhi Bhakthavachalam, Maria Romero, and Johann Schutte.
  • Hines Graduates from Cougar Chairs Leadership Academy
  • The Foresight Spring Gathering – 2017

— Andy Hines

Forest Futures: Economic Growth or Degrowth?

Since the 1972 publication of Donella Meadow’s Limit to Growth, many proponents of long-term future sustainability and the survival of man given the steady depletion of finite resources yet the exponential growth of populations, the deterioration of our natural environment as well as economic stagnation, among other things, have advocated for a global response that includes population control, income or wealth redistribution and/or a “fair share” consumption of available resources. Then there’s the more recent debate as to whether societies should shift to a new economic paradigm, whereby strategic ideas and political actions intersect at a point of degrowth as opposed to economic growth in order to reverse man’s plight towards an uncertain future, which in some scenarios involves economic collapse. That there now is an expanding movement in favor of a successor-system to capitalism, commonly referred to as “after capitalism“, brings to mind the thought of an alternative, perhaps, evolutionary social order that not only is preferable to some as compared to the current one shaped by industrial development, but also may conceivably be the better system if societies are to be characterized by sustainable living —arguably the outcome of a “steady-state economy“.

Those oriented towards “a political commitment to growth“, with expectations of limitless continuing economic growth well into the future, may someday find this existing capitalistic-influenced paradigm to be unsustainable. As historical trends suggest, global economic growth stimulated by increasing natural resource use, both renewable and nonrenewable, as well as over-consumption has been linked to widespread environmental and social impacts. Moreover, from a purely economic standpoint, the future of economic growth seems somewhat bleak, given forecasts that suggest that on a global scale, future growth rates will not come close to what they had been in the past, but instead, will “diminish and, presumably, come to an end.” Thus, ideas are emerging of convival and participatory societies, where reduced harmful environmental and unjust social impacts engender environmental sustainability and social equity. Some believe  a degrowth economy can be designed so that there are compensation-based livelihoods and opportunities for those who want them, and decentralized, democratic cooperatives for sharing resources.

What is an important implication of a degrowth economy relative to forests futures?  A sustainable degrowth economy will lead to improved ecological conditions over time, given the reduction in consumption of certain natural resources. The reduced consumption of fossil fuels, for example, will mean less carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere, and therefore less reliance on forest carbon sinks as a climate-change mitigator, as “forests can never cancel out or ‘offset’ emissions from fossil sources.” Rather, forest carbon sinks tend to increase the concentrations of carbon dioxide emissions that are released in the atmosphere, thereby causing further planetary warming. — Kimberly Daniels

 

Photo 1 source: http://degrowth.weebly.com/index.html

Photo 2 secondary source: https://entitleblog.org/2017/02/07/beyond-the-limits-of-nature-a-social-ecological-view-of-growth-and-degrowth/

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After Capitalism: Post Growth Economy

In the 1921 Czech play called “R.U.R.”, a scientist decries that his robots are used as war machines. The scientist envisioned robots as emancipating humans from the hardship of labor. His colleague replies that their company’s shareholders gave them no choice because the “[Shareholders] dreamed of the dividends. And on those dividends humanity will perish.”

Is this 400 year old bond to blame for inequality and environmental destruction? The Dutch East Indies Company was the first multinational company to issue bonds and shares to the public. (Source: Wikipedia)

Ninety years after R.U.R’s warning about shareholder greed, the Post Growth Institute has sought to move away from an economy drive by the “dreams of shareholders.” For the institute, the current economy is not sustainable, in terms of dwindling natural resources and increasing social inequality.

Not-for-Profit Companies

The institute’s post-growth economy concept borrows on many discussed economic ideas, such as the circular economy and the commons economy, as means to shift humanity to live within its means. Its more concept is that of the non-profit corporation, which differs from cooperatives, benefit corporations, and traditional non-profit organizations. The Post Growth Institute defines the non-for-profit companies as:

“100% of any profits these businesses make must be reinvested into the business or community. So, not-for-profit really means not-for-private-profit; no more incentivising selfish behaviour.”

The institute argues that not-for-profit companies are the ideal hybrid between innovative, but private profit-driven, businesses and socially-focused, but charity dependent, non-profit foundations.

The Not-For-Profit concept differs from co-ops and triple bottom lines organizations. Source: Slideshare.net

The institute believes that such a not-for-profit structure can transform corporations into vehicles for wealth distribution. Profits, instead of going to shareholders or the top management, would circulated back into the economy.  The lack of shareholders and private owners distinguishes the Post-Growth Institute’s concept of not-for-profit companies from social enterprises, B-corps, and C3 companies.

Without private profits, the institute believes that corporations would not be as incentivized for profit maximization.The assumption is that without profit maximization the push for increased material consumption would decrease, thus improving quality of life and improve the environment.

Shifting Social Values

Jennifer Hinton and Donnie Maclurcan, co-founders of the Post-Growth Institute, identified several trends that they say make non-profit businesses timely and critical: the decline of equitable growth due to inequality created by the current growth-focused economy, a generational shift towards purpose-driven work, and increasing social sensitivity to social and environmental issues.

Hinton and Maclurcan argue that a shift from for-profit to not-for-profit businesses will generate a profound shift in humanity’s well-being, as the culture of “ubiquitous marketing and the culture of consumerism” will lose its luster when companies do not need to push for profit maximization to keep shareholders happy.

Rethinking Corporate Charters

The Post-Growth Institute’s view of rethinking the corporate charter, that is, the purpose and structure of a company is not a novel concept.  In Indonesia, companies in the natural resources industry are required to perform CSR. While in Germany, companies over 2000 employees are required to allocate labor representatives to over half of its board of directors.

Closer to Post Growth Institute’s concept, countries from Thailand to the United Kingdom have established laws allow for social enterprise-focused businesses, ones that are not focused on either non-profit nor shareholder-return maximization. The corporation is, of course, an arbitrary legal concept and can be changed. The not-for-profit company concept could be the next step.

What other key socio-economic concepts should we re-examine to shift from a unsustainable, growth-based economy to one of abundance and sustainability? — Daniel Riveong

Forest Futures Newsletter, vol. 1, no. 1

As part of a collaborative research project between the University of Houston’s Foresight program and the US Forest Service in setting up a Horizon Scanning system for the latter, we’ve published our first Forest Futures newsletter. Horizon scanning involves identifying emerging trends in the internal and external environment relative to an organization or an issue of concern, with the goal being to understand the driving forces that give insight to the most probable future, and forces of change suggestive of alternative future outcomes.

The newsletter is just one of a number of action steps identified by the US Forest Service Strategic Foresight Group toward using communications and science delivery tools to engage interested stakeholders as to relevant futures research with respect to forests, and features “emerging trends of importance to natural resource planners, managers and policy makers“.

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Alum Morgan Kauffman on North Korea

“North Korea is a failing state and could fall apart at any moment,” says alum Morgan Kauffman in an article he wrote for the EC Journal in May titled “North Korea and the Art of the Deal.” He goes on to suggest several ways it could happen:

  • disintegration and anarchy, with widespread rioting and starvation
  • a bloody civil war between factions of the North Korean army
  • a nuclear attack on foreign forces or cities and/or an all-out assault on South Korea in a desperate attempt to gain resources (through conquest or tribute) to stave off internal collapse
  • any combination of the above
  • a peaceful and orderly reunion with the South, as happened with East Germany

Given the current situation in North Korea, this piece provides valuable context. It’s good to see our alums sharing their views on the future! – Andy Hines

Visualizing Forest Futures: Linking Traditional Knowledge with Modeling and Visualization

When it comes to forest futures, perhaps the uncertainty relative to climate change is better understood by a new approach that “links human values, projections and visualization to decision-making” for sustainably managing forests. VIsualizing Forest Futures (VIFF) is an interdisciplinary research project conducted by Pennsylvania State University and funded in part by the NSF, which seeks to examine the impacts of human values on people’s thoughts towards natural systems and how the choice between alternative decisions influences trade-offs in practices with respect to forest resources and sustainability. Focusing on two overarching themes, the importance of human feedback processes and the importance of value systems as well as more traditional human practices that extend beyond knowledge systems alone, the VIFF project combines traditional knowledge (TK) from indigenous cultures with “cutting-edge modeling and visualization techniques“, which includes experiences created within the realm of immersive virtual reality (iVR).

Four questions guide the VIFF project, based in north-central Wisconsin among the Menominee Nation, an indigenous tribal group:

  1. How are landscape patterns of forest disturbances and ecosystem services (e.g., biodiversity and carbon storage) shaped by variability in future climate conditions?
  2. What are the human values and customary practices that influence preferences in sustainable forest structure and function and how do they differ among members of the community?
  3. How do climate-drive changes in forest species composition, productivity and disturbance dynamics influence human perceptions of forest condition?
  4. How do changes in forest management influence future landscape structure and function?

The hope is that scenario analyses consisting of the four interacting facets of “social/economic values, climate change science, visualization and decision-making” (as depicted in the diagram below) will provide greater understanding as to preferences of indigenous tribal communities in sustainably managing future forest conditions.

One question concerning this project is whether iVR experiences can in fact heighten “emotive and cognitive perceptions of environmental changes” such that they shape human values, as reflected by robust decision-making for sustainable forest futures. Another question is whether there is greater application of this research and its outcomes to non-indigenous or tribal communities. — Kimberly Daniles

(images source: https://sites.google.com/a/pdx.edu/visualizing-forest-futures/research)

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