How can I become a futurist and what does it mean to be one?

You may be wondering if I’ve lost my mind or if I’ve even switched in my teaching textbooks for tarot cards and tea leaves after hearing me refer to myself as a “futurist” quite a bit over the past few weeks, months, or even years. I’m pleased to say that’s not really the case. Though I have only lately come to terms with it, I think I have always been a futurist by nature. I also think that many of you who are reading this post are futurists as well, maybe even without realizing it. This essay will define futurists, discuss why I believe they play the most crucial role in democracies, and, if you’re not already, explain how to become one.

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What in the world is a futurist, then?

To put it simply, a futurist is someone who analyzes and produces informed forecasts and predictions about the future using a combination of study, data, imagination, and intuition. These forecasts and projections can include a wide range of topics, including changing demographic patterns, technology advancements, health concerns, educational trends, and projections about our physical surroundings. It may surprise you to learn that the idea of contemporary futurism originated with early 20th-century science fiction novelist H.G. Wells, who wrote the iconic futurist books War of the Worlds and The Time Machine. Early futurism was introduced by Sir Isaac Newton in 1967 with his Principia Mathematica. The idea of futurism was then popularized and carried on by science fiction authors long into the 20th century, including Frank Herbert, Arthur C. Clarke, and Isaac Asimov. About halfway through the twenty-first century, futurism began to spread into other domains and solidified as a legitimate career, appearing in various forms in a variety of other vocations. Unbeknownst to them, most businesses likely employ futurists to fill some of the most important positions within the company.

I Take It I Need a Certain Degree for This?

Not at all! Although you’ll undoubtedly need some kind of education—probably at least a bachelor’s degree—futurism is an interdisciplinary, multi-field endeavor that people from many backgrounds may engage in. Like me, a lot of individuals pursue futurist interests as a side project or as an adjunct to their primary careers—in my case, teaching. I use many forms of futurism to enhance my teaching practice and also pursue it as a side project in areas like public speaking, writing, and post-graduate education.

As a matter of fact, Candy & Schultz (Acceleration Watch) have distinguished between at least twelve distinct categories of futurists from a variety of professions and fields in two key areas. While methodological futurists concentrate on the instruments of prediction and projection and the manner in which we may assert to have made such social forecasts, social futurists often forecast and project future states for the self, society, and the environment:

What Sort of Futurist Am I, Then?

A challenging query! And, come to think of it, one with a few viable responses. Since futurism by definition indicates open-mindedness and a dedication to a wide spectrum of future predictions and projects, I believe a real futurist would be reluctant to categorize oneself under such a limiting genre. I believe that most futurists—including myself—would thoroughly examine three or more of these models. Ever since I can remember, anytime I have tried to establish knowledge claims—including future-oriented ones—I have always committed myself to an epistemological commitment to reason. Thus, I believe that my position as an epistemological futurist has always been present, and it has only become stronger since I started instructing the IB Theory of Knowledge course a few years ago.

However, it seems like I’ve been leaning more and more toward the categories of creative, critical, and predictive futurists lately. I recently completed a dissertation covering all three for my English master’s degree. To put it simply, I contend that science fiction helps readers visualize and comprehend the intricate science behind climate change, as well as the possible, abstract future effects of the phenomenon. Furthermore, I hope that readers will be able to envision the necessary social, political, and economic transformations that humanity will undoubtedly need to undergo in order to prevent a global warming catastrophe. In addition, I just gave a TEDx Talk on the topic and have more to provide.