why futures studies/prospective/foresight?
The desire to know the future is as old as humanity.
However Futures Studies does not relate solely to the future; it is also used for better understanding of the present -both the present which surrounds us and the present which is in us. That is, a futures study or foresight exercice is a type of apprenticeship -implying an effort to understand oneself and one's society (culture).
The ‘prospective' is not restricted to one type of approach, study or research: it reflects a mindset. One of the most fascinating and complex aspects of foresight is that it is about an open system, where the only certainty is uncertainty. Hence the need for rigor, but also imagination and creativity, even audacity, and especially intellectual humility when practicing foresight.
Futures thinking demands an integrated process and a long-term vision of the various possible choices with full awareness of their respective impacts. Methods are useful only if they structure the problem-solving and inform us about the existing situation, the causes of its evolution, and the drivers of change that can intervene.
This approach (long-term vision, problem-solving, choices) is the reason why Futures Studies will always remain an intrinsically political operation —in the widest sense of the word— because it deals with values, prospects, options and choices.