Leading-Edge Research informs Futures Studies

Because futures studies is a field of research and practice that looks to the future, from one perspective, all futures research could be regarded as leading-edge. And perhaps many futurists consider this to be the case. However, if futures researchers self-reflect upon the futures field from an unbiased futures lens, how would we answer the following question:

“Is the field of futures studies itself evolving to keep abreast of the global epistemic shifts that are influencing and shaping academic research and professional practice across the spectrum?”

In addition to the well-discussed and well-established trends within economics, the environment, politics, and science and technology, there are also significant emerging trends in the fields of philosophy, psychology and consciousness studies that suggest the emergence of new thinking patterns on a planetary scale. A plethora of new research indicates that there is a major, but as yet marginalised, shift of thinking occurring at the leading edge of many academic fields. It is referred to in the research as an evolution of consciousness, postformal reasoning, integral-holistic thinking and/or planetary consciousness.

Although futures-thinking is arguably a significant movement beyond "old modes of thinking," the new thinking paradigm can also be observed in:

  • the shift from Newton's mechanical physics to Einstein's relativity and quantum theory;
  • the shift from classical biology, including Darwin's theories of evolution to the new biologies, such as chaos and complexity theory, self-organisation and emergence;
  • the philosophical shift from modernism to postmodernism and poststructuralism;
  • the shift from a nationistic to a global/planetary social imaginary;
  • the shift from disciplinary to inter-, multi-, transdisciplinary approaches to research;
  • the emergence of new discourses on spirituality not limited by religious doctrines;
  • the movement from formal, factory-model school education to a plurality of postformal pedagogies including futures education.

One of the aims of the WFSF Online Centre for Pedagogical Resources in Futures Studies is to create an interactive link between futures studies research and other leading-edge disciplinary and transdiciplinary research, so that futures studies as a field remains awake and dynamic and does not become just another complacent knowledge silo.

More information and relevant research on this topic can be found in the section: Integrative (Integral//Holistic) Theories and Paradigms, in the Pedagogical Resources Section.

Pedagogical Resources and Leading-Edge Futures Research

For Pedagogical Resources and Learning Objects related to Leading-edge Research please review materials found in the Pedagogical Resources section of this site.

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Project Submission

Publish a summary of your campus futures projects in the WFSF Online Centre for Pedagogical Resources in Futures Studies.

The Community of Practice page explains how you can share and exchange "exemplary practices" in Futures Pedagogy, enabling futures educators around the planet to learn from each other.