What exactly is a futurist
What exactly is a Futurist, and How Can I Become One?
Most likely, you've heard me use the term "futurist" to describe myself quite often in the past few weeks, months or years. You might wonder if I had lost the plot or if I had traded my teaching books for tarot card and tea leaves. It's not true, and I'm glad to tell you that it's not the case. Although I only recently realized it, I believe I have always been a futurist. I suspect many of you who read this article are also futurists, maybe not even knowing it. This article will describe what a Futurist Society looks like, how it can be a part of a democracy and why it is so important.
So what on Earth is Futurist?
A futurist uses a combination research, statistics, imagination, intuition and other methods to make educated predictions and projections about the future. These projections can include predictions and trends about everything, including changing demographic patterns, technological trends, health issues, education trends, and predictions related to our physical environment. Although early futurism was created by Sir Isaac Newton's Principia Mathematica in 1967, modern futurism is actually a result of H.G. Wells, the author of the futurist classics War of the Worlds (and The Time Machine), was also a part of the original futurism movement. Futurism was then popularized and maintained by other sci-fi writers, including Arthur C. Clarke and Frank Herbert. Futurism became a profession in itself, with a variety of forms and functions. Many companies employ futurists, often without knowing it, and they play some of the most important roles within the company.
I Need a Specific Degree for This, Right?
No! You will most likely need some education, at the very least a bachelor's, but futurism is an inter-disciplinary, multi-field activity that anyone can do. I am one of these futurists. It is both an integration and side-project to my actual career, which is teaching. Futurism is a side-project that I use to supplement my teaching practice. I write, teach post-graduate education and speak in public speaking.
Candy & Schultz, Acceleration Watch have identified at most twelve types of futurists across a variety of disciplines and fields. Social Futurists tend to project and predict future states for self, society and environment. Methodological Futurists focus on prediction and projection and how to make those social projections.
Difficult question! There are a few answers to this question, I think. A true futurist would not be able to narrow their focus on one genre. Futurism by definition denotes open-mindedness, commitment to making predictions, and the willingness to make them. Most futurists will explore at least three to four of these models. This is certainly true for me. Since my childhood, I have maintained an epistemological commitment towards reason in attempting to form knowledge claims, even those concerning the future. I believe I have always been an epistemological futurist. This belief has strengthened since I started teaching the IB Theory of Knowledgecourse.
Recently, however, I feel I have fallen into the categories of imaginative, critical, and predictive futurist. For my Master's degree in English, I recently wrote a dissertation that covered all three. Simply put, science fiction helps readers better understand and visualize the complex science behind climate change. It also allows them to imagine the future, potential, and abstract consequences of climate change. This will allow them to envision the social, political, economic, and financial transformations that are required to prevent climate catastrophe. A TEDx Talk was also given recently, and I plan to give more.
My education career has been a prescient futurista lot lately. I am a strong advocate for STEAM and educational technologies and have spent much of my time researching, teaching, training and deploying educational technology that I consider the future of education. This includes 3D printing, Computer-Aided Design and Minecraft. In the future, I will be able to explore other schools of futurism.
Why are Futurists So Important?
The future is the most important thing. Today is literally the beginning of the foundations for tomorrow's world. We are fully capable of recognizing and assessing the effects of short-term phenomena. For example, if we accidentally drop poison in a river, we see dead fish. We can see the effects on surrounding marine life if an oil tanker goes down. How can we see the effects of future actions on climate change? How can we imagine and perceive the economic, social, and political consequences of something so abstract, such as carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere over many decades or even centuries?
A visionary futurist can offer compelling visions of these consequences and, through science fiction literature, can motivate readers to act. These visions can be explored, analysed, and written about by more predictive futurists, like myself. Meta-prediction: Futurism will be a key skill for the 21st Century. Every organisation will need it to survive and thrive in an automated, changing world.
But wait, there's a degree for that!
It turns out that, although not necessary, you can get a degree to make you a futurist. Many universities have whole futurism departments such as the Department of Political Science: Future Studies at the University of Hawaii. They offer undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, including an MA in Alternative Futures and a PhD in the same.