Foresight Certificate slots are open!

Slots are open for our April 2018 UH Foresight Certificate boot camp!

For most people the future feels like a gamble, full of chance and uncertainty. Professional futurists will tell you that’s true, but that there are ways to understand the odds and influence how the game plays out.  Our April 2018 Foresight Certificate seminar will take you through understanding, mapping, and influencing possible and probable futures.

The seminar is held at the Hilton hotel right on the University of Houston main campus. We’ve been teaching the future in Houston since 1975. Peter Bishop kicked off the certificate program in 2009 and we’ve had over 600 aspiring futurists graduate. It is affectionately known as “boot camp,” as we cover an abridged version of our “Introduction to Foresight” course in 5 jam-packed days.

Participants come from diverse backgrounds: corporations, government agencies, NGOS, non-profits, education, consultancies… pretty much from anywhere. Most have some type of foresight role – or are about to begin one — and need a solid immersion in the basics. That’s just what you’ll get!

You can register through April 4th. Don’t wait. Our slots are filling up!

Email Andy Hines (ahines@uh.edu) or Tim Morgan (tnmorgan@uh.edu) with any questions about registration or content of the course.

Futurists in the Media: First Impressions Spring 2018

[Note: Stephen Layman is our new scanner this semester. Here are some of his initial thoughts.]

It practically goes without saying that foresight discussion in the media is lacking. The field is [slowly] growing but remains a well-kept secret. What foresight is and what futurists are doing are hardly mainstream phenomena.  About two articles a day are focused on futurists so far in 2018.  Four is the most on a single day.

The articles range from the introduction to new methods of foresight, to keynote announcements for the many speaking engagements where futurists are featured. Topics being discussed are energy, technology, the environment, government, etc. Half of the articles received are linked back to a foresight website, a foresight association, or the most recent completion of collective foresight works. The others focus on applications of foresight in a range of areas, from the spread of corporate foresight, the growing need to retain a futurist on staff, and future-thinking in medicine, farming, housing, and shipping, to name a few. – Stephen Layman

A Foresight Certificate Participant’s Perspective

We always love to get feedback on our program. The founder of Emergent Strategies, Alexandra Steele, attended our January Foresight Certificate Bootcamp. Here is a bit of what she had to say about her week with us:

“You don’t have to be a futurist to benefit as I did from the Futures Bootcamp at the University of Houston this past month. The skills you learn during an intensive week include working on a framework that takes a long view beyond an annual to 3-year horizon. So many of us in marketing are accustomed to looking at trend analysis but how many of us look at the fringes that help determine those trends in the first place? In the course of their work, professional futurists also hone their skills at evaluating the difference between weak and strong signals to help prepare organizations for variety of scenarios.”

For the rest of Alexandra’s review of her experience with our Foresight Certificate Program, go to her LinkedIn article here.

Posted in Certificate Program by Tim Morgan. No Comments

Museum 2040: A “Future Fiction” Critical Read

Set in the year 2040, the November/December 2017 special issue of Museum is a scenario that describes one of a number of possible futures for museums that could come about as a result of how existing limits and challenges relative to the US economy, population, educational system as well as government funding for nonprofits could play out over time.

The Museum magazine is a bi-monthly publication by the American Alliance of Museums, which addresses the different issues and challenges faced by museums today, and is said to be a “must read” for museum employees and other stakeholders.

But Museum 2040, with its deep dive into the issues and challenges museums could face 23 years from now, is a critical read for everyone willing to immerse themselves into its “future fiction” and consider how the changing nature of museums might impact communities, schools, libraries, others organizations, the economy and life in general.

Guest edited by Houston Futures certificate alumni Elizabeth Merritt, VP of Strategic Foresight and Founding Director of the Center for the Future of Museums, and co-authored by people inside and outside of the museum field, the digital edition of Museum 2040 is available as a free download at http://aam-us.org/resources/center-for-the-future-of-museums/museum-2040. —by Kimberly Daniels

Another Boot Camp in the books

We had another great week of foresight “boot camp” at the University of Houston Hilton from January 15-19. This was a really special week, as we braved snow, sub-freezing temperatures, and held our course despite the university being shut down for two days. We had a great week (thanks to the Hilton staff for soldiering on with us). We are glad to once again have attracted attendees from countries all over the globe such as Abu Dhabi and New Zealand.

A key focus of the course is our signature Framework Foresight method. During the 5-day course, the content acts as a guide to participants on how to affect transformational change in their respective fields. Participants learn how to understand, map and influence the future. Put differently, the course focuses on anticipating disruptive change, learning the skills to identify possible contingencies, as well as acquiring the tools to peer ahead towards a plurality of possible future contexts relating to their industries. Lastly, with regard to influencing the future, the final stretches focuses on leadership in relation to change.

Participants are also eligible for an additional “certificate of achievement” if they complete a foresight project on their own subsequent to the course.

Our professional certificate graduates have now grown to more than 600 individuals from numerous companies, organizations and communities! More program information here or feel free to contact Dr. Andy Hines or Tim Morg

Alum Update: Shupp to Schireson

Lee Shupp has joined the San Francisco of Schireson as a Principal in Strategy & Consulting. Lee brings many years of experience working at the intersection of market research, design, bleeding-edge technology, and foresight (futures research). Lee grew up in Houston and moved to Austin to go to U of Texas.

Lee started at the late, great Cheskin, leading the Microsoft account (where he intersected with Kern, Agnish, and Neil). Cheskin was acquired by Added Value, where he learned deep quant approaches blended with qual. Then he went to the Futures Company where he led “blue sky” innovation projects looking at emerging opportunities for innovation, typically in the 5-10 year horizon. His latest stop was at Speck Design, a Silicon Valley design firm where he worked with designers and engineers to make cool new things like wearables, robots, and Google’s Project Tango.

Looking forward, he loves understanding the expected/unexpected/downright wacky things that people do with new possibilities, exploring unintended consequences, and the funny and often brilliant ways that people apply new technology to real world context.

But the amazing doesn’t end there… Beyond exploring culture and going on adventure travel, he has graced the stage of TEDx and he plays guitar in a Rolling Stones tribute band called Chick Jagger – “America’s ONLY chick-fronted Rolling Stones tribute band!”™ (yes, Lee plays Keef). They play around the Bay Area, and in Vegas last fall at House of Blues. I expect him to have a marked positive impact on the music selection in the SF workspace. — Andy Hines

 

RSVP to Scanning the Fringe

Houston Foresight Spring Gathering_Flyer 2018

 

 

Lab-Grown Meat on the Horizon

Meat is undeniably a staple of the American diet, and most don’t give the ecological and ethical implications of meat production a second thought. A more thoughtful dietary approach, however, is on the horizon in the form of lab-grown meat – sometimes referred to as “shmeat” or cultured meat. This product is created in a lab and does not require the killing of animals. Aside from animal welfare concerns, what are the motivations behind this experimental enterprise? Conservation concerns related to animal agriculture loom large, and include deforestation, biodiversity loss, and climate change. According to the UN FAO report Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options, animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions – a higher share than transport. What’s more, the sector produces 37% of anthropogenic methane emissions, with methane possessing 23 times the global warming potential of CO2 (p. xxi). There are about 229 million acres of federal grazing land in the USA, 10 percent of the nation’s land area.

 Source: Luke Kingma and Lou Patrick Mackay (http://www.instagram.com/futurismcartoons)

The promise lab-grown meat holds for helping maintain healthy ecological systems is staggering. Imagine a future society where animals are never killed for human food, forests aren’t cleared for pasture, and methane emissions are slashed. This scenario is beginning to look increasingly possible through the research and marketing of companies like Memphis Meats, Mosa Meat, Super Meat, and Impossible Foods. Cultured meat is expected to be commercially available in less than five years as production is scaled up.

One of the major concerns, at this point, is the higher cost of shmeat when compared with conventional meat. However, prices have already dropped dramatically: Lab grown meat prices have dropped an astounding 30,000 times in less than 4 years, and are now only three to four times more expensive than ground beef.

Education and marketing may be the key to bringing lab-grown meat more into the mainstream. The ecological (as opposed to purely economic) cost of steaks and burgers could be included in shmeat marketing campaigns. Such edu-marketing, moreover, could be gradually ramped up as continued research helps develop a better and cheaper product. The future of meat, while unknown, has a greater chance at being eco- (and animal-) friendly as a result of the lab-grown alternative. — Leif A. DeVaney, Ph.D. (deva0052@umn.edu)

Houston Foresight 2017 Research Projects

The Houston Foresight Program continues to develop its research capability, drawing on our network of faculty, alums, and, of course, the students.

We completed a project on “The Future of Work for NASA’s Langley Research Center.” The project used scenario planning to create long-term views of the future of work. The scenarios will be used to “wind tunnel” the current plans and activities of NASA, and enable them to make the appropriate adjustments to their current strategy. The goal was to stretch thinking out to the world of work in 2050 and then “bring it back” to a strategic approach and initiatives that could be started in the present. The Houston Foresight team consisted of Andy Hines (PI), alum Maria Romero (Project Manager), and students Tim Morgan, George Paap, and Mathew Palubicki.

We also completed a project with Kimberly Clark Corporation on “Technology in Baby and Childcare Products To 2030” that we are briefing at their headquarters this month. It is currently confidential, so we are not yet able to share it. The five-month study focused on consumer attitudes, highlighting parents and the growing subcategory known as “baby tech.” The findings offer specifically long-term strategic insights with respect to the use of technology in products for babies and young children. The foresight methodologies used included Horizon Scanning, Three Horizons, and Causal Layered Analysis as well as pieces of Houston Foresight’s Framework Foresight approach. The Houston Foresight team consisted of Andy Hines (PI), faculty Alex Whittington (Project Manager), and students Tim Morgan, Justin Ochs, Cindi Stuebner, and Mathew Palubicki.

We have also continued our collaboration with the Northern Research Station of the US Forest Service. The purpose of the project has been to help them set up a Horizon Scanning system. Indeed, it is up and running, as our joint team has tagged 855 scanning hits to our online library at this point! You can check out blog posts highlight key scan hits on our blog, and we also developed a  Forest Futures newsletter. We are now writing some articles and a technical report based on what we’ve learned. The Houston Foresight team for 2017 consisted of Andy Hines (PI), alums Johann Schutte and Maria Romero, and students Kurt Callaway, and Kimberly Daniels.

These research projects provide great experience for our students. I would like to thank our sponsors Dave Bengston and Mike Dockry at the Forest Service, Clay Bunyard at Kimberly Clark, and Rich Antcliff and Sara McRae at NASA. We are always on the lookout for new Sponsored Research Projects, so please let us know if we could help! – Andy Hines

 

Houston Foresight Fall 2017 Newsletter

Before we jump into 2018, let’s look back at some of the key highlights from the Fall 2017_HDCS Outlook_Newsletter_FORESIGHT put out by our Department. This issue includes:

  • Welcome to our New Foresight Students
  • Foresight Produces Inaugural Forest Futures Newsletter
  • Houston Foresight Produces On the Horizon Special Issue
  • Houston Foresight Research Projects
  • 2017 APF Annual Gathering: Global Health Futures

— Andy Hines