Association of Professional Futurists

The History & Organization of APF

The APF was founded in 2002 by an informal network of professional futurists. A community of like-minded people saw the need to create a network to help advance the field. We are now a worldwide group of foresight professionals with members from over thirty-five countries.

Gatherings

The annual members Gathering has been a key activity in the history of the APF. After the initial gathering April 2002 in Seattle, “Applied Futures Summit,” the organization began planning formal events. Each gathering focuses on a particular topic, including both possible futures and futures methods.

Timeline will appear here

Initially organized by Michele Bowman and Christian Crews, Garry Golden assumed leadership in 2009, followed by Christian Crews, Joe Tankersley, and now Catherine Cosgrove. In October 2011, the inaugural Virtual Gathering featured 26 futurists on four themes: Crazy Futures, Art/Design/Architecture, Futures Methods, and Building a Futures Business. A 2012 gathering in Europe celebrating the APF Tenth Anniversary was held in Oxford England. Christian Crews, Gatherings Chair/Board Member and Wendy Schultz, Oxford host, organized the event.

In 2013, “Play: Simulation, Gaming and the Future” explored the landscape of simulation and gaming. Christian Crews, Gatherings Chair/Board Member, Joe Tankersley, Board member/Orlando co-host, and Emily Empel, Orlando co-host organized it. In 2014, “Convergence: Maker Movement, Social Entrepreneurs, & the Sharing Economy” explored how technology and social networks are converging. Organized by Christian Crews, participants used narrative foresight tools and complexity to consider changes for society and the foresight profession. In 2015, the Atlanta Gathering featured the Future of Education. In 2016, the second global Futures Festival focused on Mind, Machines, Design, and Tools, featuring twenty-four presenters and 165 participants.

Regional Gatherings

In addition to the multi-day gatherings, regional gatherings were initiated as a trial in London in 2004, hosted by Stephen Aguillar Milan. In 2012, these were re-instituted, with a second event in London. In 2013, events were hosted in Oxford, Perth, Houston, and Hawaii. In 2014, events were held in Cape Town and London. Then London members under the guidance of Nick Price and Andrew Curry began “Last Friday” events every other month. Topics range from Arctic futures to anticipatory futures featuring topic experts as speakers. In 2016, the London futurists introduced a spring and fall series of three events each to be continued in 2017. In South Africa, Tanja Hichert and Marius Oosthuizen have hosted events for the past three years and plan to continue in 2017.

Professional Development Seminars

Annual Professional Development seminars precede the World Futures Society’s conference. After the inaugural Washington DC event in 2004, APF conducted Pro Dev events in Vancouver, Toronto, Minneapolis, Orlando, twice in Chicago, twice more in Washington DC, and San Francisco. Contact Catherine Cosgrove, Gatherings Chair, for information.

Profutures: Futures Insights Webinars

In 2011, the APF kicked off a series of quarterly webinars. For the inaugural webinar, Andrew Curry presented The World in 2020: The Business Challenges of the Future. In 2015, events shifted to quarterly. In 2016, quarterly meetings were replaced by the Global Futures Festival in September.

Awards

In order to promote the futures field to the public and to recognize the work of professional futurists and others whose work illuminates one or more aspects of the future, APF selects and recognizes significant futures works. Founded in 2007, the first awards occurred in 2008. Andy Hines serves as the chair.

For the inaugural selection, only published works were eligible and included recent and classic texts. Fifty-seven publications were nominated. The top ten were recognized by the APF and can be found under MSFW History. Here’s the top three.

For the inaugural selection, only published works were eligible and included recent and classic texts. Fifty-seven publications were nominated. The top ten were recognized by the APF and can be found under MSFW History. Here’s the top three.

Honorable mentions were awarded to three others, listed under MSFW History.

After the 2009 awards, a new multi-year jury-based process was adopted for the 2012 Awards. Originally called “Best Books”, the awards were updated to Most Important Futures Works in 2012, and changed in 2013 to Most Significant Futures Works (MSFW). Nominations and current jury are listed here.

Student Recognition Program (SRP)

In 2008, an annual recognition of excellence in student projects was initiated by Verne Wheelwright and Jim Mathews. Students’ work has been recognized in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.  Currently Peter Hayward serves as SRP Chair and Charles Brass coordinates the review of student projects.

Listserv Community

Since the inception of the APF, an active listserv connected members globally. Conversations involve APF activities, new reports and publications, members’ news, and foresight conferences. Every week, provocative questions circulate on topics including the future of geopolitics, scarcity, automobiles, leisure, paper products, sports, and post-capitalism, biggest surprises of the past decade, better scenario methods, and unusual locations for a futures workshop. Recently an experiment on a new platform is underway to attract different voices and create more in-depth conversations.

Compass Newsletter

The Compass newsletter began December 2003 and is published quarterly. Past issues can be found in the Members Only “Community” section (log-in required) and include important articles, book reviews, members’ news, and APF news.  Past editors included Andy Hines, Garry Golden, and Jim Mathews. Since mid-2013, Andrew Curry has served as the Compass editor.

Twitter #futrchat and Social Media

APF held a monthly series of twitter chats from 2010 to 2012. Founded by Jennifer Jarratt and Cindy Frewen, topics have explored the future of: education, money work, transportation, big questions, disasters, relationships, personal, social & political power, limited resources, and design among others. Besides Jennifer and Cindy, Maree Conway, Guy Yeomans, Justin Pickard, Bryan Alexander, Elizabeth Merritt, and Jake Dunagan have hosted. Venessa Miemis was an invited guest for future of money. The APF twitter account, established in 2011, is @profuturists and is managed by Bridgette Engeler.

In January 2012, the APF initiated a twitter hashtag #4futr to aggregate environmental scan hits. Contributions by non-members are welcome. The Profutures Daily can be found on paper.li, a link is on the front page of this website. For contributors: use #4futr to denote a scan it, trend forecast, emerging issue, weak signal, or source for professional futures work. Trends should be longer than a year minimum.

APF began a Facebook group page in 2008. In 2015, it became an open group (110 members at the time, now 320) and is now managed by board member Bridgette Engeler.

APF Leadership

Current board members can be found here, as can Past Board Members and founding APF members. In addition to the above committee chairs, Membership Administration is headed by Maree Conway, Membership Applications by Peter Bishop, Nominating Committee by Garry Golden, New Members’ Meet-Up by Jay Gary, Verne Wheelwright is the Board Liaison Officer, and APF Webmaster is Dennis Draeger.

  • 2016

    Futures Festival V-Gathering
    Mind, Machines, Design, and Tools
  • 2015

    The Learning Remix
    Atlanta, Georgia
  • 2014

    Convergence: Maker Movement, 
    Social Entrepreneurs, & the Sharing Economy
    San Francisco, California
  • 2013

    Play: Simulation, Gaming, and the Future
    Orlando, Florida
  • 2012

    Emergent: The Future of
    New Government & Economic Models
    Oxford, UK
  • 2011

    Futures Festival V-Gathering
    Futures Methods, Crazy Futures, Art & Design, and Foresight Careers
  • 2010

    Big Questions
    Denver, Colorado
  • 2009

    Futures By Design
    Art Center College of Design, 
    Pasadena, California
  • 2008

    Future of Social Media
    New York City
  • 2007

    Future of Identities
    Vancouver, British Columbia
  • 2006

    iMod: Hacking the Big Ideas
    Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • 2005

    Futures Insurrection
    Miami, Florida
  • 2004

    Future of Reality
    Las Vegas, Nevada
  • 2003

    Futures of Futures
    Austin, Texas