2000: The Quest for the Futures: A Methodology Seminar in Futures Studies

13-15 June 2000, Turku, Finland

The seminar emphasised on methodological questions and new methods in futures studies. We also tried to find the ways to promote multidisciplinary co-operation between the different fields of studies. Furthermore, an extremely important topic, namely education and teaching in futures studies, was also be discussed.

The three scientific organisers were the World Futures Studies Federation (WFSF) and the Finland Futures Research Centre in co-operation with the Finland Futures Academy and the Finnish Society for Futures Studies. The Seminar gathered together 120 WFSF members and other participants. The amount of the foreign visitors was nearly 50% of the participants.

The first seminar day started with the welcome speeches of the President of the World Futures Studies Federation, Tony Stevenson, and the Director of the Finland Futures Research Centre, Markku Wilenius. Both of them expressed the great hope that the seminar would take the field of futures studies a big step forward. One of the aims of his seminar was to make up for the lack in literature available on futures studies methodologies.

The morning presentations proceeded with Jérôme Bindé, Director of the Analysis and Forecasting Office at UNESCO, and Federico Mayor, former President of UNESCO and now professor at Fundacion Ramon Areces in Madrid, Spain. Professor Eleonora Masini was invited to present the first plenary speech ‘Futures studies and futures thinking as a way of understanding the changing world’ in form of a video-conversation that was produced in dialogue with Markku Wilenius.

The second seminar day was opened by Jyrki Katainen (Finnish Member of Parliament), who is working for the Parliament’s Committee of the Future, which is unique as such at least in Europe. This was followed by Osmo Kuusi’s presentation. Plenary speech 3 given by Erzsébet Nováky from the Budapest University of Sciences brought up the issue of the changing methodological framework of futures studies.

Jerome Glenn, on to plenary 4 and the third seminar day, discussed the very ambitious UN Millennium Project, by showing us a number of their internet pages on-line on the big screen. The last plenary speech was held by a man who has been an expert in his field for many decades. Ian Wilson, still an active author at the age of 75, talked about the secrets of scenario planning.

The afternoons of the first two seminar days consisted of a total of 9 workshops dealing with a large scope of futures studies methodologies. More than 50 researchers presented their papers. The topics included “Visionary leadership”, “From Theory to Practice”, “Futures Studies and Environmental Management”, “Philosophy and Values in Futures Studies”, “Foresight Programs and Technological Forecasting”, “Virtual Learning Environment and Futures Education”, “Participatory Futures Methods and Community Futures”, “Methodological Renewal”, and “Gender and Art Workshop”. The discussions around the different contributions could have gone on for many more hours, however, the outcome of the workshops clearly indicated that very often a consensus could be found. The final discussion and panel session on the other hand brought up a number of disagreements, which is excellent, because only disagreements make a science develop.

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