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.



Article on "World academy of Art & Science – Newsletter January 2018"

The Intrepid research group on the future of universities and the role of inter - and transdisciplinary knowledge held two thought-provoking workshops at ITD Conference 2017: Transdisciplinary Research and Education held on September 11-15, 2017 at Leuphana University, Lüneburg, Germany. WAAS Fellows Garry Jacobs and Roberto Poli were invited by Olivia Bina, who heads the Intrepid team, to deliver keynotes intended to stimulate discussion among this highly informed, creative group. It was encouraging to discover that the two-year old Intrepid project team is thinking and working along lines very similar to that of WAAS and WUC on the need to rethink the role of the university and formulate a new paradigm in higher education. WAAS and WUC are in discussion with Intrepid regarding opportunities for on-going collaboration.


New book: Introduction to Anticipation Studies

First systematic introduction to the discipline of anticipation

Author: Roberto Poli, Trento University, Italy

Springer International Publishing AG, 2017

This book presents the theory of anticipation, and establishes anticipation of the future as a legitimate topic of research. It examines anticipatory behavior, i.e. a behavior that ‘uses’ the future in its actual decisional process. The book shows that anticipation violates neither the ontological order of time nor causation. It explores the question of how different kinds of systems anticipate, and examines the risks and uses of such anticipatory practices.   The book first summarizes the research on anticipation conducted within a range of different disciplines, and describes the connection between the anticipatory point of view and futures studies. Following that, its chapters on Wholes, Time and Emergence, make explicit the ontological framework within which anticipation finds its place. It then goes on to discuss Systems, Complexity, and the Modeling Relation, and provides the scientific background supporting anticipation. It restricts formal technicalities to one chapter, and presents those technicalities twice, in formal and plain words to advance understanding. The final chapter shows that all the threads presented in the previous chapters naturally converge toward what has come to be called “Discipline of Anticipation”.

The book is available on the editor web site:



Roberto Poli editor-in-chief of Anticipation Science (Springer)

Anticipation Science

Roberto Poli, Trento University, Italy

Scientific Board:

Ted Fuller, Lincoln University, UK

Jannie Hofmeyr, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

Aloisius H. Louie, Ottawa, Canada


Anticipation Science is a new Springer peer-reviewed publication series designed to encourage debate and analysis and provide a platform for the dissemination of new research about the use of ideas of a future to act in the present, with a broad focus on humans, institutions, and human-designed systems.

The aim is to enhance the repertoire of resources for developing ideas of the future, and for expanding and deepening the ability to use the future.

Some of the questions that the Series intends to address are the following: When does anticipation occur in behavior and life? Which types of anticipation can be distinguished? Which properties of our environment change the pertinence of different types of anticipation? Which structures and processes are necessary for anticipatory action? Which is the behavioral impact of anticipation? How can anticipation be modeled?

The series is interested in receiving book proposals that

  • are aimed at an academic audience of graduate level and up
  • combine applied and/or theoretical and/or philosophical studies with work especially from disciplines within the human and social sciences broadly conceived.

The series editors intend to make a first decision within 2 months of submission. In case of a positive first decision the work will be provisionally contracted: the final decision about publication will depend upon the result of the anonymous peer review of the complete manuscript.

The series editors aim to have the work peer-reviewed within 4 months after submission of the complete manuscript.

They discourage the submission of manuscripts that are below 150 printed pages (75,000 words).

For inquiries and submission of proposals prospective authors can contact the editor-in-chief: 

Roberto Poli: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Project Anticipation

Department of Sociology and Social Research

26, Verdi Street, 38122 Trento (TN) Italy

+39 0461 281403

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