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





Foresight Certificate Course will be offered January 12-16, 2015 in Houston, Texas

foresight2The UH certificate in Foresight is now in its seventh year of twice-annual seminars held at the University of Houston in January and May each year. We have also offered the certificate at the Destree Institute in Brussels, Belgium every June since 2012. The number of professional certificate graduates has reached nearly 400 individuals and continues to grow.

The next iteration of the course will be held in Houston, Texas between January 12-16th 2015.

The program is a 5-day, project-based, face-to-face workshop. Participants will 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 professional certificate 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 if they complete a foresight project after program delivery.

Our certificate seminars are limited to 30 students, which allows for optimal class time, small group work, and networking opportunities.

A detailed agenda, and an curriculum outline for the course can be found here.

Cost: $3000

Early registration is strongly recommended. All previous sessions have sold out weeks before the session.
Click here to register 

Hotel Reservations
​Hilton University (conveniently located on the University of Houston Campus, 5 min walk to venu) – 1-832-531-6300
Conference rate code is “FORE” for rate starting at $159  (must be reserved by Dec. 24)
Hotel Information and Reservations

For information about registration, transportation, accommodations or other questions, please email Alexandra Whittington or contact Dr. Andy Hines, ( Phone Number 832-367-5575 )

What Previous Participants have said

Certificate students come from a wide range of backgrounds, not just professionally, but culturally and geographically as well. Here is what some of the students who have completed the program had to say about their experience:

“One wonders if Dr. Peter Bishop realizes how much change he truly influences when he conducts the Certificate in Strategic Foresight course at the University of Houston …. I left with more than I anticipated. We expected this: a foundation in framing, research, and forecasting techniques, visioning and planning approaches, and tactics for action within our organizations …. But there’s more. The instructors are superb, and fellow students are dynamic and hail from a range of backgrounds and locales, both international and US. In courses designed this well, there’s often a synergy, even a gestalt of sorts that lasts until the course ends. The effects of Dr. Bishop’s class, however, are ongoing. Many of those involved in the course have significantly changed their careers, their positions, their influence over planning, thanks to the powerful tools gained in the course. We made permanent connections (always good for support in the world of foresight) and important connections for future opportunities. All of this goodness, CEU credits, and a certificate for the wall to lend credibility to your methods. The only negative of the course? You’ll want more. It’s addictive – so I’d consider the 2-year online course if you’re up for it.”

-Civilian Manager, U.S. Department of Defense

“As a private consultant, I am often asked by my clients to assist in developing a variety of strategic and operational plans. The Strategic Foresight Certificate gave me a wide variety of additional tools and techniques that I can utilize to develop scenarios of possible futures for my clients. Clients have found this helpful in mapping out the possibilities that the future can bring and more importantly it allows them to position themselves to influence the type of future they wish to create.”

-Alain Rabeau, Senior Consultant, The Intersol Group

“Strategic Foresight has helped me structure futures thinking and futures strategies into a curriculum that can be used for middle school students that will prepare these future world leaders to anticipate and cope with change, and to empower them with the ability to create solutions for a preferable future.”

-Public Education, Gifted and Talented Program Coordinator

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Libraries and the Rebirth of Civic Culture, an interview with UH Foresight Alum Garry Golden

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 4.33.34 PMEric Garland, a managing director at Competitive Futures Inc hosts a blog, and a web-only interview program called the Garland Report. The show is a means to deliver research and analysis on how the world is changing, from macroeconomics down to individual companies.

Garry Golden is a futurist and consultant that graduated from the University of Houston program. His work largely focuses on the futures of; learning, demographics, energy, transportation and libraries.

Garry and Eric sat down recently to discuss the future of libraries, and their possible role in building communities and re-engaging citizens in civic culture. Garry and Eric both agree that libraries are more than just a place to store and share books, they are a platform perfectly suited to connect people, incubate ideas, foster life-long learning and create change.

Using libraries as an anchor to center their conversation, the discussion touches on topics as broad as; shifting social values, generational gaps, technological advancements, and a theoretical debate about republican vs imperial ideologies. A full recording of their conversation can be found here.

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Alumni Thomas Hoffman published in The Journal of the British Interplanetary Society

Icarus-DARPA-093011-mdThomas Hoffman graduated from the UH Foresight program in 2004 and has been active in the futures space since. While a student in the program, Thomas began exploring ideas that became a paper recently published in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society. The paper, titled “Sacred Space: A Beginning Framework for Off-Planet Church” imagines the role of the Christian Church in exploring, colonizing, and commercializing inter-planetary travel:

“Historically the Church has always been part of the first waves of explorers and colonizers, with its ideological interests being easily supported by generous resources and strong infrastructures. The exploring Church has not always been a friendly guest, however, and at times has initiated or condoned great harm. This paper offers a beginning framework as one way of insuring an appropriate presence in space for the Church.”  (JBIS)

Thomas Hoffman originally presented his framework at DARPA’s 100-Year Space Ship symposium. The symposium is a public forum held by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency that invites scientists, academics, and private institutions to discuss far-out ideas for building a spaceship to visit another star.



Wendy Schultz visits Intro to Foresight class to discuss images of the future

Wendy Schultz is futurist at Infinite Futures and former professor of Foresight at UH. She was a guest lecturer in the Intro to Foresight class this week where she presented on images of the future. Wendy cited the foundational text, The Image of the Future by Fred Polak as key influence for understanding the role images play in understanding and creating the future.

An image, as Wendy explained, is not necessarily just a visual representation. Images can be narratives, songs, poems, artifacts, dances, gestures or other methods of storytelling as well. These images are a part of our interior landscape and often actively inform our world-views and expectations.

Images of the future, or images that sell their audience a certain vision for future are everywhere. We find them in advertising, science fiction, fashion editorials, design renderings, mythologies, religion, political agendas and even our own dreams.

Wendys presentation included various images across multiple mediums which depicted 5-7 generic archetypes of how the future might play out. These archetypes, or reoccurring stories about the future that Wendy sees all the time are outlined in the following table.

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 1.54.52 PM

Wendy went on to talk about differing images of the future across cultures, specifically about differences between European and American guiding images. She concluded with touching on her concern with the lack of a uniting universal image and rise of fundamentalist images across the world.

Professor Andy Hines also shared some thoughts on Wendy’s lecture on his blog, where he adds references to methodologies and frameworks suggested by Wendy for analyzing images of the future.

Attached below are a few of the lush images of the future Wendy curated in her presentation. Can you match these images to the archetypes/scenarios outlined in table above?

University of Houston Foresight student work featured in Futurist magazine

futuristso2013_animationThe World Future Society conference was in Orlando, Florida on July 10th and 11th this summer. The annual conference provides a “neutral forum for exploring possible, probable and preferable futures.” The WFS also produces and distributes a magazine publication titled THE FUTURIST, which covers events and trends that are relevant to thinking about the future. The latest issue of THE FUTURIST included an article highlighting the “Best of Houston Foresight” presentation at the World Future Society earlier this year. University of Houston graduate students Laura Schlehuber, Kurt Callaway and Jim Breaux each presented projects they undertook as a part of their coursework in the Foresight program.

Laura Schlehuber presented on the future of national performance indicators. Laura’s presentation argued that relying on solely on Gross Domestic Product as a measure of progress is problematic. She shared other metrics that create a more holistic representation of a country and its citizens well-being. One such metric is the GPI, or Genuine Progress Indicator. GPI supplements economic data with social and environmental factors which gives policy makers a more-complete picture when planning for the future.

Kurt Callaway spoke of the future of harvesting material resources from asteroids and comets. His presentation laid out the strategies and hurdles we face in exploiting the rare-earth minerals found in outer space. Kurt argued that if we can “mine platinum and other expensive metals in space, their prices will plummet and they can be used in new ways.”

Jim Breaux spoke on the future of emergency preparedness. His presentation imagines the implications for disaster recovery in a future fueled by population growth in the costal United States. The presentation laid out scenarios for how housing regulations, home costs, private disaster recovery businesses practices and government funding might be affected in the future.

Videos of the student presentations were posted to our blog earlier this summer, and can be found here.

The World Future Society’s next conference will be held in San Francisco, California the weekend of July 24th at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square.  Reduced rates are currently available for those who register early.



SingFit Wins Skullcandy Body Computing Challenge

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 1.32.28 PMRachel Francine, co-founder and CEO of Musical Health Technologies, is a UH Foresight Alum. She believes that the Future of Medicine might be… Music!

Music Health Technologies recently presented their first-of-its kind mobile application titled SingFit at the eighth annual University of Southern California Body Computing Conference. The conference was designed to discover how new advances in sensing technologies might leverage music to improve the health of millions of people. Cutting edge research from top academic institutions indicates that regular singing can have profound health benefits for people with autism, dementia, chronic respiratory disease, Parkinson’s disease, depression and various other hard-to-treat health conditions.

SingFit won first prize at the Conference by demonstrating how their product can combine data from various sensors with information from a patients medical history to administer music  as medicine for controlling stress and managing mood.

Rachel Francine stated in a recent press release that “when we launched the company, we wanted to create a product that could have an immediate, transformative impact on the lives of people who use it.” Rachel added that the best part of the conference was”the real support we got from the established medical community and learning about all of the work that is being done to speed the innovation and distribution of digital health.” Personalized medical intervention might become available to patients even sooner than Music Health Technologies had anticipated!


Ross Schott’s work with Singularity University featured in The Telegraph

Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 2.16.39 PMRoss Shott, managing director of the graduate studies program at Singularity University is an alumni of the Houston Foresight program. Singularity University, a small unaccredited institute in northern California, is a Futures education initiative co-founded by futurist Ray Kurzweil. Its mission is to help solve some of the planet’s greatest humanitarian problems, such as famine and climate change. The Telegraph recently published an article about the exciting work happening at the institute with an accompanying video that leads off with words from Ross himself.

In addition to running the graduate studies program at Singularity University, Ross also teaches a course in the Foresight department at UH titled Advanced Strategies for Futures Planning. Ross has an excellent business background as outlined with his work with Psyphers Group where he does strategic consulting, executive coaching, and leading-edge research into human potential. Ross is concurrently completing a doctorate in the psychology of human performance at University of the Rockies.  Ross knows how to innovate, plan, and implement change and we are delighted that he will be sharing strategies for doing so with students in the Houston Foresight program this spring.

Laura, Jim, Katie, Omar and Andy travel to Indianapolis to present Student Needs project

Kaite, Laura, and Andy right before beginning our presentation at the Lumina Foundation.

Kaite, Laura, and Andy right before beginning our presentation at the Lumina Foundation.

On September 26th, Foresight students Laura Schlehuber, Katie King, Omar Sahi, and Jim Breaux (now also a faculty member in the program) along with Professor Andy Hines travelled to Indianapolis, Indiana to present the Student Needs project to the Lumina Foundation. The presentation included key findings from the two dozen strong group of faculty, alums, and students who gathered to research and discuss emerging student needs in terms of living, learning, working, playing, connecting, and participating in the year 2025 and beyond.

The student team and Andy engaged in some role playing which included a mock focus group as a means to interact with the audience and deliver the content. The presentation came together beautifully and generated some very useful discussion around our student-centric research and how it intersects with the goals of the Lumina Foundation.