First future research course hopes to contribute to tomorrow’s world – Flanders Today

Shared from: Flanders Today

by Andy Furniere, journalist

A Brussels university college has introduced the country’s first course on future research. In strategic futures orientation, third-year students in the Idea & Innovation Management study stream at Erasmus university college will learn to “think of the future”.

The course is an introduction to the methods and approaches of future research and is part of an international programme for exchange students.

“For some time there have been courses on ‘futures’ and ‘foresight’ in the curricula of higher education institutions in our neighbouring countries, Scandinavia, the US and Taiwan,” lecturer Maya Van Leemput told Bruzz. “Increasingly, governments, companies, organisations and other groups want to look ahead in a systematic and thorough way and devote attention to long-term evolutions and transformation.”

Students will learn to think systematically about the future in order to orient themselves better in the present. “You may not control the future completely, but we all contribute to this future,” Van Leemput said. “We all think about it, and these projections influence our actions in the present. Our assumptions and expectations have an impact on our life.”

Last year the college set up the Applied Futures Research knowledge centre, which has a team of 230 students, lecturers and researchers. “We want to contribute to the world of tomorrow from Brussels,” said Katy Vancoillie, head of Idea & Innovation Management.

Open Time

The centre of expertise Applied Futures Research – Open Time of the Management, Media and Society department of the Erasmus University College Brussels coordinates the collaboration on DDT. The (un-)conference is the public closing event of our first PWO research cycle (2015–2017).

This cycle is aimed at building and sharing expertise on futures orientations in practice and assessing existing overviews and categorisations of futures theory and research, methods and techniques. Together with organisations from civil society, culture, local authorities and social movements, we apply selected ideas and methods in four case studies. Our goal is to make futures more accessible to a network of students, lectors, practitioners and professionals from the fields of practice of our study programmes. We seek to connect these local actors with an international network of academic and professional futures thinkers and researchers.

Futures theory and research exist in many flavours and are applied in widely varying contexts. In this heterogenous landscape Open Time develops knowledge and insight for applied futures research.

An increasing number of actors in society (public authorities, companies, civic organisations and other groups) is involved in different forms of futures oriented work. National and international think tanks, research centres and institutes, research teams, consultants and individual researchers conduct more or less systematic futures research, applying multiple perspectives and approaches.

Open Time records this evolution and participates in it with its own applied futures research projects. With DDT we want to bring together and share more of the rich variety of futures orientations. In particular we want to learn about co-creative, artistic and transformative futures approaches in the global North and South in profit, non-profit and policy settings.

At DDT our researchers will present their project results, including an online game developed for case study partner Greenpeace.