Futures at the University of the Sunshine Coast

Future Studies FINAL from Marcus Bussey on Vimeo.

Over the past 3 years I have been teaching a course for the University of Sunshine Coast. It is an action research / learning subject which engages students in formulating foresight interventions. First they consider and analyze a context within which they want to apply some futures tools and frameworks. Then they apply these as the action  research / learning experiment. Finally they evaluate the experiment, deriving learnings from the application of futures / foresight.

I’ve really enjoyed the subject, it has been one of the most enjoyable courses I have taught, and it has consistently had the most interesting and inner-connected people, which I have also been fortunate to learn from as well.

One of the things I like best about the course is that I get to introduce students to a wide variety of frameworks and methodologies for doing futures work – thus forcing students to grapple with multiple strategies for the contexts they want to apply futures in. For example students are introduced to:

  • Six pillars (Inayatullah)
  • Foresight Fan (Schultz)
  • Three Horizons (Curry and Hodgson)
  • Generic Foresight Process (Voros)
  • Futures Action Model (you know who;)

While I lean toward Six Pillars and my own FAM, I have also used the others in various contexts and appreciate what they can do. In general I would like students to appreciate the multiple ways the cat can be skinned, and that different methodologies and approaches are suited to different environments and needs.

One of the most exciting things for me about the course is that many students, who are located in highly professional environments, choose to apply foresight in their organization or their consulting / facilitation work. This makes me more of a coach to the student-professional, to assist them in making the best choices and navigating what can be a tricky professional environment.

I have always had a great deal of respect for the mid-career professional who wants to add futures to their repertoire. I myself came into futures studies at the age of 29-30, and by that time I had already lived in East Asia (Japan and Taiwan) for four years, and had some life experience. I had experienced globalization before I received the academic definition. I never appreciated a patronizing approach to pedagogy, and almost always saw my peers as filled with various forms of life experience that could be combined with this new field. So the role of facilitator / coach suits me well, as I want to work with the student-professional’s knowledge and strengths to combine this with what they are learning in the course.

I’m also grateful for the opportunity that the director of the program has given me, Dr. Marcus Bussey, who I have blogged and podcasted about previously, as well as my work with Steve Gould, who has supported me at various times and who is also teaching in the same program. This is more a reflection than an official promo, but you know the drill! If you are interested or if you know someone who might be…. here is the official blurb below:

“The application of futures thinking and futures methods can invigorate organisations, inform leadership, and enhance institutional learning and levels of purpose and wellbeing. This course explores a range of futures methods, the values that inform these and links them to strategic thinking and organisational learning. This is done through linking theory and practice with your own contexts. The learning aims to be practical and applied, expanding your personal and institutional horizons.”