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where can you find a futurist?

In a university. A futurist may work as a teacher-researcher to advance knowledge in this field and transmit it to the next generation. However, in France only the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers (CNAM) recognizes Futures Studies as a discipline per se within its own degree program. The CNAM is a Public Scientific, Cultural and Professional Institution, classed as a "grande école", meaning that is among France's top higher education establishments and supervised by the Minister for Higher Education) In an increasing number of French universities, one can find lectures and courses on foresight but not professors. Such lectures and courses are often given by non-academic lecturers).

In organizations, both public and private, e.g. a firm or an administrative body. In this case, the futurist may be considered a “futures-oriented practitioner” because it is unlikely that he/she will make a career in this field due to the lack of full time jobs in this speciality. Sooner or later, unfortunately the practitioner may move to another department or even organization where they may not have an occasion to deploy their futures-oriented skills. However, some organizations can afford to hire full-time professional futurists.

What options are available to practice this art as a real career, a life vocation? In France, only two options are available: expatriation or consulting. This might explain why the majority of French futurists are consultants. For this reason, it is necessary to express the difference in the respective roles of the futurist and consultant.

The consultant in foresight primarily exerts a role of consultant. Tomorrow, he/she could switch from foresight advice to economic, strategic or other advice in accordance with the most profitable market.

The futurist doing consulting (freelance or employee) often carries out several activities simultaneously:

  • He/she advises clients, is involved in studies, and moderates working groups: this is the heart of the consultant’s role.

  • He/she undertakes research and publishes the results because futures studies is a discipline requiring continual development. This is the role of the futurist-researcher.

  • He/she plays the role of teacher. This role is critical because of the need to share and debate their visions of the future with those of younger generations; because of the importance of transmitting their knowledge which would otherwise be lost; and because they must train the futurists of the next generation. This is the role of the futurist-teacher.