Archive for the ‘Dealing with complexity’ Category

Prof. Jim Dator on “The Future of Futures Studies”

March 22nd, 2013
A couple of weeks ago I went to The Thinking Futures Workshop organised by the The New Zealand Futures Trust.
Professor Jim Dator from the University of Hawaii skyped in as the introductory speaker, and he and the NZFT have generously shared the link to this talk for wider circulation.
If you have time I recommend watching the whole thing!

Some key points if you’re short on time:
00:00-  He introduces himself and his relationship to NZ and international future studies communities
2:14  He introduces the main subject of his talk: The future of future studies
2:40 He explains what futures studies is and is not
3:15  He proposes four recurring “images of the future” that appear recur across all projections of the future:
  • continued growth/continuation
  • collapse
  • a disciplined or green society
  • transformational
5:57  He argues what has CHANGED about the future is not the 4 images but the future itself. – there is a “new normal” for the future of futuring.
6:58  He explains “the unholy trinity +1″ – his metaphor for the “new normal” on which all future thinking must be based. Energy, The Economy, The Environment, and (+1) Governance.
10:46  Argues that no democratic country in the world is yet able to effectively deal with this “new normal”

Introducing Professor Jim Dator

Jim Dator is Professor and Director of the Hawaii Research Center for Futures Studies, Department of Political Science, University of Hawaii at Manoa.

His major areas of specialization include:

  • Political futures studies (especially the forecasting and design of new political institutions, and the futures of law, education, and technology)
  • Space and society, especially the design of governance systems for space settlements
  • The political-economic futures of North America, the Pacific Island region, and East Asia, especially Japan and South Korea
  • Media production and the politics of media– video, radio, and multimedia production and the effects of these media on political and other human relations and consciousness

He consults widely on the futures of law, governance, tourism, and space. He is also:

  •  Co-Director, Space & Society Department International Space University, Strasbourg, France,
  •  Fellow and member of the Executive Council of the World Academy of Art & Science

And was:

  • Secretary General/President of the World Futures Studies Federation, 1983-93.


Dealing with complexity, Future focussed issues

Growing complex

April 23rd, 2012

I am on the long flight home from a series of workshops and classes in Boston: at Harvard, at Children’s Hospital, with world-class coaches and consultants. In each of these places, the idea of complexity looms large—not just because I bring it along, but because it’s already there.

I ask my participants about the increasing complexity in their lives and give them time to think about it. They erupt in a storm of talking. Their lives are more complex on every dimension: there are more uncertainties to watch, there are more interconnections among the parts, there are more players in each of the realms, some in person, and some virtually. Everyone has a story of the way their work is increasingly international, from the 20 countries represented in my class at the Kennedy School to the students who have never left the US but are connected to people around the world. The swirling together of uncertainty, diversity, and change leave these people–graduate students, doctors, teachers, and leaders at the top of their careers—all a little dizzy and confused.

While there are no key competencies easily named in these many places, these folks are thinking hard about participating and contributing in a more complex and global reality.

How is it, though, that we can grow better able to deal with complexity? And, if this increasing complexity is puzzling and unsettling these adult learners, what might it be doing for the students in classrooms around our country?  Might it be that woven through each individual challenge (whether it’s finding the problem as Sue writes about or inviting a friend over after school) is a growing demand for our participation and contribution in a more complex world? And would we adults—who are dizzied by the complexity around us—be able to help prepare young people for this uncertain future?

My daughter came home from her year 10 class with a furrow in her brow a few weeks ago. “My teacher told me today that we are preparing for careers that don’t even exist yet!” she told me, frustrated. “How on earth are we supposed to plan for that?”

How indeed. It may well be that helping all of us develop a greater facility for complexity and uncertainty is a core piece of 21st Century education. As you think about your experience as a growing and changing adult, what has helped you get better at that?

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Dealing with complexity

April 3rd, 2012

Dr. Jennifer Garvey Berger talks about how we might develop our capabilities to work with complexity, and  what to expect from her session at the 2012 Shifting Thinking Workshop.

You might also like to check out Jennifer’s recent book Changing on the job: Developing leaders for a complex world

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