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I Can See My Future from Here!


Despite our name (Futures Research), it's not possible to study the future directly because there are no future facts. You can't study what doesn't exist. Instead we study WHAT people think about their futures, WHY they have these ideas, and HOW their ideas can be attained.

The term "Futures Research" refers to a family of research methods specifically designed to examine some aspect of the future. There are hundreds of these methods and together they form a fascinating genre of social science research techniques.

Wendell Bell, Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Senior Research Scientist with the Center for Comparative Research at Yale University describes the purpose of “Futures Research” as the discovery, examination, and evaluation of possible, probable, and preferable futures. In other words, researchers who attempt to study the future seek to know “what can or could be (the possible), what is likely to be (the probable), and what ought to be (the preferable)” (p. 73).

Bell offers many reasons why researchers may consider Futures Research as a viable method. The most compelling reason is this:

The overriding purpose of futures studies is to maintain or improve human well-being and the life sustaining capacities of the Earth. . . . Futurists seek to know what causes change, the dynamic processes underlying technological developments on the one hand and changes in the political, economic, social, and cultural orders on the other. They seek theories to explain such changes and to help people to recognize and understand them. . . . They also seek to determine what can be changed by human actions, what trends can be accelerated or prevented, or what phenomena are amenable to individual or collective human action. (p. 111)

Specifically, the methodological characteristics of “Futures Research” that my company focuses on include:

  • Description of alternative futures that are possible or probable for a particular population.
  • Definition of the state of our knowledge (or uncertainty) about this or that possible future.
  • Identification of implications and possible consequences of this or that possible future.
  • Understanding of the underlying change processes.

There is strong resonance between the “Futures Research” method and my company's mission. And, because the name was available with the Secretary of State, Futures Research was an obvious choice for a business name. And, Futures Research might be an obvious choice for you and your group to rigorously consider your future.

If you're interested in learning more about this fascinating approach to explore the future, here is a great starter list – of contact us directly.

  1. Ahvenharju, S., Minkkinen, M., & Lalot, F. (2018). The five dimensions of Futures Consciousness. Futures, 104, 1–13.
  2. Bell, W. (2004). Foundations of Futures Studies, Volume 1: Human Science for a New Era. Transaction Publishers.
  3. Bodinet, J. C. (2016). Futures of Hope: The Importance of Positive Futures Images at the Community College Level. World Futures Review, 8(4), 172–179.
  4. Dash, D. (2019). An Overview of Futures Research for Designers. In A. Chakrabarti (Ed.), Research into Design for a Connected World (pp. 111–121). Springer Singapore.
  5. Glenn, J. C., & Gordon, T. J. (2009). Futures Research Methodology Version 3.0 (3.0 edition). The Millennium Project. Also see:
  6. Heinonen, S., & Karjalainen, J. (2019). Pioneer Analysis as a Futures Research Method for Analysing Transformations. In R. Poli & M. Valerio (Eds.), Anticipation, Agency and Complexity (pp. 61–77).
  7. Olla, P., & Choudrie, J. (2014). Mobile technology utilization for social development in developing countries: An ethnographic futures research study. Information Systems Frontiers; New York, 16(3), 369–382.
  8. Popp, R. (2013). Participatory futures research. Research or practice consulting? European Journal of Futures Research, 1(1), 1–10.
  9. Social Movements and Futures Research - Markus S. Schulz, 2016. (n.d.). Retrieved March 26, 2019, from
  10. van Dorsser, C., Walker, W. E., Taneja, P., & Marchau, V. A. W. J. (2018). Improving the link between the futures field and policymaking. Futures, 104, 75–84.
  11. Yeoman, I. S., & Beeton, S. (2014). The State of Tourism Futures Research: An Asian Pacific Ontological Perspective. Journal of Travel Research, 53(6), 675–679.