Author: Freya Kettner, freelance editor on the project beFORE.

Let’s look back 50 years: Not so long ago, many things that we take for granted in everyday life today were only found in science fiction movies: smartphones, microwaves, electric cars and, of course, the Internet.

What will the world look like 50 years from now? Many people today are skeptical and worried about the future of mankind: globalization, digitalization, artificial intelligence, issues concerning health and safety are just a few of the big topics. We cannot predict today how they will affect us in the future. This frightens many people.

Many researchers in Futures Studies see the need that Futures Thinking should be taught both in schools and in vocational training. Young people can learn that they are not helplessly at the mercy of some future vision. We do not know what our world will look like tomorrow. But today we shape it with our decisions and inventions. Futures Thinking teaches how to deal with uncertainties and changes, which helps to shape the future. It can also entail how to develop design options for the future.

Designers have always been an essential part in the development of visionary devices, services and means of communication. Designing itself is a process of shaping the future. Stefanie Ollenburg, futures researcher in the beFORE project, therefore writes in her article “Beyond Futures: Designing Futures by Educating Future Designers“, that futures thinking needs to be included in the vocational training of every type of designer. Her argument is that the concepts of alternative futures and the practice of foresight methodology can foster designers’ creativity, give them a broader view on the possibilities when developing ideas, and a sense of the impact their work may have on the future.

The essay provides instructors with background knowledge on introducing the concept of futures and a toolkit of practical exercises for teaching futures thinking.

Stefanie Ollenburg: Beyond Futures: Designing Futures by Educating Future Designers


Read more:

Alister Jones et al.: Developing Students’ Futures Thinking in Science Education. Link:

Science Learning Hub, The University of Waikato: