Most Significant Futures Works (MSFW)

APF recognizes the most significant futures works for the purpose of identifying and rewarding the work of professional futurists and others whose work illuminates aspects of the future. Furthermore, the APF publicly shares those projects in order to educate and inform, and to showcase examples of excellent futures work.

2016 MSFW Award Winners

MFSW Awards were announced at the Annual Reception and Recognition in San Francisco 25 July 2015. Sixteen works were nominated and six were recognized for excellence. See full list of winners here. Works are nominated in three categories: Category 1 Advance the methodology and practice of foresight and futures studies; Category 2 Analyze a significant future issue; and Category 3 Illuminate the future through literacy or artistic works. If you have questions, please contact Andy Hines, MFSW Chair. The nomination process for next years awards can be found here.

Category 1 Advance the methodology and practice of foresight and futures studies

Note: All three are equal winners….no “places”

Category 2 Analyze a significant future issue 

Category 3:  Illuminate the future through literary or artistic works

 About

APF Certificates of Achievement are given to authors of all recognized works.

Awards

First in each category: Two-year membership in APF or a free registration within 2 years of award at annual gathering (excluding residency) or professional development seminar.

Second in each category: One-year membership in APF or a free registration within 2 years of award at annual gathering (excluding residency) or professional development seminar.

Third in each category: One-year membership in APF

Who’s Involved

The Core Committee is MSFW Chair Andy Hines, Cindy Frewen, and Rowena Morrow. We gratefully acknowledge the enduring contribution of former Chair Ken Harris, now deceased, who was the driving force of the team from its inception till 2014. MSFW remains one of his many legacies.

History of the MSFW

The program was founded in 2007 and first awards were made in 2008. All program winners can be viewed at-a-glance in this summary table.

For the inaugural selection, only published books were eligible. Fifty-seven books were nominated. The top ten were recognized by the APF.

2015 Most Significant Futures Works (MFSW) Awards

Category 1: Advance the methodology and practice of foresight and futures studies

The Thing from the Future (link) Stuart Candy and Jeff Watson, The Situation Lab, game

The Thing from the Future is an imagination game that challenges players to collaboratively and competitively describe objects from a range of alternative futures. The object is to come up with the most entertaining and thought-provoking descriptions of hypothetical objects from different near-, medium-, and long-term futures by playing a card game. The four types of cards are: arc cards (possible futures), terrain cards (contexts, places, and topics), object and mood cards.

Jury comments: “The Thing From The Future game looks well-suited to address a big white space in the extension of foresight thinking to a broader audience and to develop competence and confidence in the practice of foresight in a wide range of settings.”

(link) Ted Farrington, Keith Henson, & Christian Crews, article: Research-Technology Management, March/April 2012, pp.26-33

The authors describes a massive project that used a potpourri of strategic foresight methods – including an Internal Futures Audit, Weak Signals Environmental Scan, Implications Wheels,  Technology Forecast , Inductive Scenarios, Participatory Futures, and Point of View Options – carried out by a network of futurists to influence the strategic research agenda at Pepsico.

Jury comments: “Used proven methodology in a new way and very effectively. The presentation and flow worked well.”

Category 2: Analyze a significant future issue

Mutative Media: Communication Technologies and Power Relations in the Past, Present, and Futures (link) James A. Dator, John A. Sweeney, and Aubrey M. Yee, monograph: Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

A monograph-length investigation into the nature of social change through the lens of how a range of communication technologies in a variety of cultural contexts has (and has not) impacted the mechanisms and flow of power. It offers four alternative futures, including narrative scripts used for experiential scenarios, and outlines the prototype of a hybrid, mixed-reality game within four very different environments and conditions.

Jury comments: “Is a proof of concept of the ‘Mānoa School’ of futures theory and methods, that both integrates traditional social science methods such as history and political science with futures method, and additionally introduces novel ‘gamification’ approach for experiential exploration of scenarios; and shows how futures work can be fun.”

Category 3: Illuminate the future through literary or artistic works

Byologic/Zed.TO (link1 & link2) Trevor Haldenby, cross-platform narrative

“An 8-month narrative told in real-time through an integrated combination of interactive theatrical events and online content. It told the story of the beginning of the end of the world, from a viral pandemic created by ByoLogyc, a fictional Toronto-based biotech company.” They had 8 live events, involved 75 performers, 333 crowdfunders, 3,500 event participants, and 35,000 online engagements. The combination of live events, a fictional website (that looks quite “real”) and the use of social media, brought the future to life in a stunning fashion.

Jury comments: “The most outstanding work of this list … briefed at the 2014 ProDev to a very positive reaction.”

(link) Noah Raford, Exhibit

The Museum of Future Government Services, launched at the Government Summit in Dubai, 2014, was perhaps the largest concerted effort by a public institution to create images of the future explicitly designed to shift policy conversations and accelerate innovation. The Museum was structured as an immersive, interactive experience that explored the future of key government services. Museum may be the world’s largest “design futures” exhibition to date (not counting Disney’s Epcot, for example).

Jury comments: “This is highly innovative and relies on an experiential approach to futuring … it provides is the possibility of stepping outside the Country Club Futures scene and providing more culturally nuanced but still globally significant artifacts.”

Hieroglyph: Stories & Visions for a Better Future (link) Kathryn Cramer, Ed Finn, and Neal Stephenson; project

Project Hieroglyph at Arizona State University Center for Science and Imagination was inspired by Stephenson’s call for positive science fiction futures and resulted in this first anthology of short stories. Authors include Elizabeth Bear, Cory Doctorow, Bruce Sterling, and Karl Schroeder who aimed to write works of “techno-optimism” that “challenge us to do Big Stuff.

Jury Comments: “An interesting blend of futures purposes with fiction … with potential for broad dissemination.”

2012 AWARDS

CATEGORY 1: ADVANCE THE METHODOLOGY AND PRACTICE OF FORESIGHT AND FUTURES STUDIES.

1ST PLACE

IT’S YOUR FUTURE… MAKE IT A GOOD ONE!

by Verne Wheelwright (2010) nominated by Andy Hines. In this book and workbook, strategic planning and futures methods from scanning to creating preferred futures are adapted to the personal level.

2ND PLACE

THE BLACK SWAN

by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (2007) nominated by Joel Barker. This book examines highly unpredictable events.
Jury Comments: “This is an important book because it takes a strong position on the openness of what happens … The basic, repeated, well supported and illustrated argument about unknowability is central to advancing a discipline of futures.”

CATEGORY 2: ANALYZE A SIGNIFICANT FUTURE ISSUE

1ST PLACE

PROSPERITY WITHOUT GROWTH: TRANSITION TO A SUSTAINABLE ECONOMY

by Professor Tim Jackson, UK Sustainable Development Commission (2011) nominated by Cindy Frewen. In response to the fiscal crisis, and unsustainable growth and environmental impacts, this study recommends decoupling prosperity and consumption, a focus on fairness and sharing, and living within ecological constraints.

2ND PLACE

THE BIGGEST WAKE UP CALL IN HISTORY

by Richard Slaughter (2011) nominated by Cindy Frewen. Slaughter uses integral futures to frame impending environmental crises and collective approaches to solve them.

CATEGORY 3: ILLUMINATE THE FUTURE THROUGH LITERARY OR ARTISTIC WORKS

1ST PLACE

EVOKE!

by Jane McGonigal (2010), a massive multi-player online game; nominated by Peter Bishop.

2009 AWARDS

The second round of awards was made in early 2009. Expanded to include digital publications, fourteen works were nominated.

TOP THREE HONORS AWARDS

SUPERSTRUCT

by IFTF/Jane McGonigal, Jamais Cascio & Kathi Vian (2008), an online, multi-player game environment involving five critical global issues for the next decade.

INTEGRAL FUTURES

Special Issue of Futures (Mar 2008), edited by Richard Slaughter, Peter Hayward (APF), Joseph Voros.

SIX PILLARS: FUTURES THINKING FOR TRANSFORMING

in Foresight (2008) by Sohail Inayatullah.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

SIX DEGREES: OUR FUTURE ON A HOTTER PLANET

(2008) by Mark Lynas

FUTURE SAVVY: IDENTIFYING TRENDS TO MAKE BETTER DECISIONS, MANAGE UNCERTAINTY, AND PROFIT FROM CHANGE

(2008) by Adam Gordon (APF).

BORN DIGITAL: UNDERSTANDING THE FIRST GENERATION OF DIGITAL

(2008) by John Palfrey and Urs Gasser.

 

After the 2009 MIFW awards, a new multi-year jury-based process was adopted for the 2012 Awards.With judges and board input, the Core Committee updated the program plan for 2013. The name was changed to Most Significant Futures Works. The detailed program plan can be found here.