Association of Professional Futurists

Publications by the APF

The APF has several publications including the internal newsletter, Compass, and our first book, Future of Futures.

Compass is the APF’s quarterly publication and is viewable by members only (sign-in required). Special Issues are available below for everyone.

The Future of Foresight (2017)

The next publication will be a working document entitled The Future of Foresight. Dr Riel Miller is leading the effort, which will include essays by Jennifer Jarratt and Dr Peter Bishop. Town Hall meetings in Toronto, Canada and Oxford, England plus the APF listserv are supplying input from members. The document aims to define the field in terms of professional practice, the future of the field, and APF’s role in it.

Methods Anthology Special Edition of Compass (2015)

The Compass Methods Anthology brings together a selection of the articles APF has published on methods over the past few years into one handy-to-reference pdf. Each of the articles is written by (or is an interview with) someone who is central to the development of the method. Here’s a link.

The methods covered in the anthology are:

  • Oliver Markley’s new taxonomy of wild card
  • Richard Lum on VERGE
  • Bill Sharp on Three Horizons
  • Tony Hodgson on the World Game
  • Terry Grim interviewed on the Foresight Maturity Model
  • Stuart Candy on The Thing From The Future
  • Wendy Schultz on the Manoa Scenarios method
  • Dyman Hendricks interviewed on the Systems Methodology Toolkit

Future of Education Special Edition of Compass (2014)

The future of education is a recurring theme in the discussions on the APF’s listserv. In part, this represents the organization’s connections to futures studies programs, in part because the sector itself is clearly on the cusp of change.

One US Report has projected that half of all American colleges and universities will close in the next 50 years. Similarly, an EY paper suggests that in Australia “the dominant university model … will prove unviable in all but a few cases over the next 10-15 years.” Such claims become the litany of educational futures over the past few years; at the very least they deserve examination.

In this special issue of Compass, you will find articles by Hardin Tibbs, Sara Robinson, Bryan Alexander, David Birch, Katie King, Andrew Curry, Cindy Frewen, Wendy Schultz, and Anne Boysen. Edited by Andrew Curry. Here’s a link.

The Future of Futures (2012)

In honor of its Ten-year Anniversary, the APF launched its first publication, The Future of Futures, as a legacy project. We are delighted to make available this elegantly designed book in both digital and limited print editions, authored by the Association of Professional Futurists and edited by Andrew Curry, with contributions from over a dozen professional futurists.

The Future of Futures (2012) features an illustrated history of futures thought, a gallery of futures artifacts, and excerpts from APF’s Compass newsletter, Most Important Futures Works awards, and Student Recognition Project winners.

Organized in sections of Past, Present, and Future, you’ll find essays and reviews by: Tom Abeles, Marcus Barber, Peter Bishop, Christian Crews, Andrew Curry, Cindy Frewen, Tanja Hichert, Andy Hines, Oliver Markley, Jim Mathews, Riel Miller, Noah Raford, Wendy Schultz, Richard Slaughter, and Verne Wheelwright. Here’s a link.

Special Issue of the Journal of Futures Studies (2009)

Sohail Inayatullah, editor of the Journal of Futures Studies, invited the APF to create a special issue about the practice of foresight. Eight essays were selected from twenty-three submissions and cover reframing issues, timelines, scenarios, organizational futures assessments, aspirational futures, personal futures, and community development. Contributors are: Jennifer Jarratt, John Mahaffie, Peter von Stackelberg, Andrew Curry, Wendy Schultz, Stephen Millett, Terry Grim, Clem Bezold, Verne Wheelwright, and Steve Gould.

Dr Peter Bishop and Rowena Morrow, co-editors, explained their approach:

We saw opportunity and synergy in the relationship. We knew that the best practitioners reflect deeply on their practice, and the best intellectuals ultimately direct their work to the world of practice. Therefore, we took Inayatullah’s offer as an opportunity to give the foresight practitioner a visible way to contribute to the intellectual heritage of the field and to give the practicing futurist a publication that contributed to their practice. Hence this special issue of the Journal of Futures Studies was sponsored, written and edited by members of the Association of Professional Futurists.

The two criteria we used to solicit and select articles for this issue were (1) an interesting and intellectually rigorous contribution to the field of futures studies and (2) a practical contribution to the practice of those who work in the field. So we strove, quite simply, to find articles that were interesting and novel because they made an important intellectual statement about the field, but also ones that reflective practitioners could use in their practice. In order to balance and achieve these twin goals, we had to avoid the extremes of interesting, but highly theoretical research and the relatively mundane step-by-step approach to practice without any spark of intellectual interest. In the end, we wanted the readers of the Journal to be intrigued by and interested enough by what they learned to use it to inform their practice.

Our goal frankly was really a vision, the vision of a publication that served the reflective practitioner, a concept that Schein conceived of many decades ago. It is a vision that avoids the false dichotomy of thought and practice, of theory and action, of the academy and the marketplace. While there are numerous and extreme examples of both in the world of publication, we were greedy enough to want it all–to publish sound ideas that also had practical utility.

You can find the special issue of JFS by APF futurists here (scroll to May 2009), and the introduction by Peter Bishop and Rowena Morrow “Reflective Practice and Practitioners” here.

Book Reviews: Excerpts from The Future of Futures (2012)

Below are a few brief reviews of selected books on futures studies and applied foresight which are extracted from The Future of Futures (APF, 2012).

The Art of the Long View

The Art of the Long View is perhaps the best introduction to the futures field for a person who asks, “So what do Futurists do?” It comes from a well-known, authoritative source (Peter Schwartz). It articulates and demonstrates the use of the basic principles of the field, particularly the role of uncertainty in long-term futures requiring the use of scenarios rather than single-valued predictions. It is full of great stories and case studies, and it contains the steps for the famous GBN scenario development process in the Appendix.

~~ Peter Bishop

Foundations of Future Studies

Wendell Bell’s Foundations of Futures Studies is the definitive introduction to the field from one of its most experienced practitioners. Foundations appears in two volumes. The first volume is a comprehensive description of the field – its history, purpose, principles, epistemology and methods. The second volume is less well-known it is an argument for the existence of universal values and an appeal to futurists to promote those values in their work.

~~ Peter Bishop

Future Savvy

I realize I started working as a futurist that there was no shortage of predictions available to leaders and decision-makers looking to anticipate the future, but that they were a very mixed quality. I wrote Future Savvy to help people with some futures quality control. Which forecasts should you take seriously, which should you be wary of, and which should you throw it entirely? So I included a battery of tests designed to reveal any forecasts strengths and weaknesses. And since hindsight is such a wonderful asset for a futurist, I also put my own judgment on the line – by assessing some predictions that had not yet reached the forecast date.

Adam Gordon, Author’s comments

Futures Research Methodologies, by the Millennium Project

Futures Research Methodologies is a CD-ROM based resource edited by Jerome Glenn and Theodore Gordon. The approach is straightforward. Each method is described by a futurist or expert associated with it, and each essay describes in turn the methods history, a description, how to apply it, its strengths and weaknesses, and areas of innovation. The ‘Most Important Futures Works’ accolade was awarded to Version 2.0. New material is added to each addition; version 3.0, released in 2010, covers more than 30 methods. It is an essential futures resource.

~~ Andrew Curry

The Limits to Growth, by Meadows, Meadows, Randers, and Behrens

The Limits to Growth, published in 1972, is based on a computer model which simulated the interaction of biosphere and human activity. The research was commissioned by the Club of Rome. The main variables which were modeled were population, industrialization, pollution, food production and resource depletion. The book was widely criticized after publication – partly on the grounds that it underestimated technology effects. But 40 years on, repeated reviews have found the ‘reference’ forecast from the original model to be strikingly accurate – the most likely outcome being ‘overshoot and collapse’ during the 2020s.

~~ Andrew Curry

Six pillars: futures thinking for transforming, by Sohail Inayatullah

‘Six pillars’ is ambitious attempt to rethink the futures process, compressed into a journal article. Inayatullah, who also developed Causal Layered Analysis, proposes connections between six foundational futures concepts, six questions, and six pillars of practice. The article, published in Foresight, also outlines ways to integrate a number of well-known futures techniques, including macro – history, scenarios, futures wheels, integral futures, and emerging issues analysis. Some of the futures history is a little unreliable; the discussion of “used”, “disowned” and “alternate” futures is particularly rich.

~~ Andrew Curry