How do we explore our Futures? Metods of Futures Research

By Sikka Heinonen, Osmo Kuusi, Hazel Salminen

In Acta Futura Finnica no. 10 - The Finninsh Society for Future Studies 

Recently, Finnish future studies researchers have been interested in the Anticipation approach proposed by Riel Miller, Roberto Poli and Pierre Rossel (2013). Miller, Poli and Rossel have made strides in the “The Discipline of Anticipation (DoA)”. According to Miller, Poli, Rossel the Future is incorporated as Anticipation into all phenomena, conscious and unconscious, physical or ideational. They suggest that the concept of Future studies will be the most general umbrella including the range from visionary and utopian futures and pop futurism to partecipatory critical or integral futurism and the extrapolatory projections of simulations, formal modelling, and forecasting. Future studies are inclusive. Every aspect, type, and the way of including the future within one’s analysis, theories, or action is a legitimate component of Future studies. The discipline of Anticipation (DoA) is a way to answer to the quality challenge of future studies.

Miller, Poli and Rossel consider that futures exercises conducted by professionals and futures teaching require forms of accountability, such as a responsibility toward clients and students.

In order to improve accountability Miller, Poli, Rossel define two challenges: 1) what is the focus of DoA that defines the development of expertise in the field of future studies? 2) how can a practitioner identify the DoA type of futures studies as concerned with a specific subject matter and why it is trustworthy?

According to Poli, the future field is divided into three levels: past-oriented forecast, future oriented foresight, and present oriented anticipation. Anticipation emphasizes alternative future through reframing. This gives room for innovation, as well. Poli sees innovation as more understandable in the context of anticipation. This stance of mixing foresight and innovation is also assumed by Finnish futures researchers.