Rethinking Education through Imagining Future Scenarios

Sharing the video clip and news article (and related sites) of the UNESCO Bangkok and Chulalongkorn University Thailand spearheaded future literacy workshop entitled “Rethinking Education through Imagining Future Scenarios”.

I am so happy to be a part of this and looking forward to co-designing a couple of post-workshop events and projects in the Philippines, Pakistan, India and Vietnam.

Rethinking Education through Imagining Future Scenarios Video

Rethinking Education through Imagining Future Scenarios News Article

Link to related reports

This workshop engaged community-based learning and non-formal education practitioners from Asia and the Pacific in a three-day learning-by-doing knowledge creation process. Inspiration for this event originated in the important discussions taking place around the Sustainable Development Goals 2030, the critical role of learning in creating sustainable societies, and UNESCO’s efforts to explore these issues as discussed in a recent publication Rethinking Education: Towards a global common good? (UNESCO, 2015)

The design of this “FL KnowLab” starts with a deep appreciation of the significant societal role played by education, learning and training outside formal educational institutions. It recognizes the need for a more fluid approach to learning as a continuum, in which formal education institutions interact more closely with other less formalized educational experiences from early childhood throughout life (UNESCO 2015). The workshop design also incorporates the premise that the delivery of lifelong learning through flexible and need-specific approaches by practitioners of community-based learning and non-formal education can play a central role in the discovery and realization of opportunities to promote sustainable development. (UNESCO, 2015)

#futureperfect: “dream city” futures


Just brilliant! I got an invitation from the organizers to share some learnings and insights on Philippine city futures at the first Quezon City International Conference organized by the University of the Philippines National College of Public Administration (UP-NCPAG) and the Center for Local and Regional Governance (CLRGC) last month. The convention themed “Future Perfect: Cities at the Forefront of Change and Development” explored the immediate and long-term livability of Philippine cities with climate change impacts, urbanization, global integration, the emergence of new technologies and inter–metro-local cooperation as critical drivers of change. In celebration of the Quezon City’s 75th founding anniversary, the  conference showcased innovative approaches and reforms to city administration, governance and development.  I also attended the pre-conference seminar-workshop on livability facilitated by Mr. Benjamin De La Pena, Director for Community and National Strategy, Knight Foundation. 


Event was held @ Eastwood City, QC!


Keynoted by Mayor Herbert Bautista, the city chief executive, emphasized some of the major critical challenges influencing and impacting Quezon city’s livability and resiliency: disaster risk reduction, urban population and migration, urban mobility, overcrowding, public health and open spaces, peace and order,  slums, and the ASEAN integration.  Quezon city is currently the largest most populous city in the Philippines. Quezon city is the nation’s capital.  

The conference also  showcased the experiences and lessons learned by cities in the Asia-Pacific and shared how they imagine their futures for the next decades. 

Along these three main strands, panels and plenary sessions were held to solicit insights and inputs to improve the host city’s future perfect strategies and approaches:

Climate Change and Urban Resiliency

Low-carbon development
Sectoral implications and impacts of climate change
Climate change and vulnerable groups
Climate change adaptation and disaster-risk reduction
Climate risk governance

Growing Cities at the Human Scale: Liveability in Cities of Rapid Growth

Urban mobility and transportation systems (e.g. BRT, pedestrian and bicycle friendly cities, interconnectedness of transport)
Green cities and green urbanism
Inclusiveness and cities without slums
Open spaces
Peace, order and security

Interlocal Cooperation and Metropolitanization

Twinning and city-to-city cooperation
Metropolitan and transboundary issues (traffic, pollution, flooding, etc.)
City networks
ASEAN integration and competitiveness

Some takeways and insights 

# make cities walkable  by linking networks and destinations, ensure accessibility and re-design surfaces;

# increase investments for micro-climate management  by increasing tree giving sun shades, reduce urban heat temperatures, minimize pollution, minimize dust, noise and glare

#   increase the “feeling” of security via good street lighting, open and lively street spaces and protection from crime and violence day and night

# invest on infrastructures and create mixed and multi-purpose events that encourage physical activity and exercise for all user groups, interaction and social transparency, play and street entertainment, talkscapes or street furnitures, edge effects and attractive zones that stimulate peoples sense of imagination and play

#invest on infrastructures and create events that creates a sense of locality and identity. Contextualize locality investments that informs and drives a sense of climate impact and resiliency awareness and actions.

# Mainstream children, women and the vulnerable sector in resiliency awareness and management

# Integrate out of the box and outliers and not just the worst case scenarios to make city more adaptive and responsive to future shocks like urban terrorism, urban heat and other plausible unknown unknowns

#engage the neighborhood, families and relatives by partnering with them in pre-planning and post-planning disaster scenarios. Question current initiatives. Expand the notion of disaster risk management and response.

Some random photos at the conference:

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IMG20151009133858 IMG20151009133909 IMG20151009134804 IMG20151009161013 IMG20151009190020


Many are worried that our concepts of resilience, city planning and urban regeneration are very male oriented and city futures worldviews patriarchal. So what would Philippine cities look like if they were designed by women? Will we have massive towers and bridges or will we have more sites or spaces and priorities that are child friendly, safe for mother and babies and gender sensitive? At a macro level, what would our streets, communities, priorities and neighborhood look like in a women imagined alternative city futures? What might be their preferences? What myth and narratives of resilience, planning and design could surface when the future of our cities are re-imagined and reconstructed by women? What elements of current planning should change? What are the influencers and drivers of a women driven city futures?

The Philippine Center for Foresight Education and Innovation Research (PhilForesight) of Northwestern University in collaboration with the World Futures Studies Federation and the UNSECO Participation Programme, Step Beyond Australia and the Center for Engaged Foresight held a two-day workshop entitled Transforming Philippine Cities: An Integrative Foresight Course for Women City Leaders, hosted by University of the Philippines (UNP) in Vigan City, Ilocos Norte, last June 26-27. 41 participants, mostly women, from local and national government agencies (LGUs, NEDA) as well as CSOs (Civil Service Organizations) and from the Academe attended the course. The futures course is one of the key events of the University of Northern Philippines 50th founding anniversary celebration.

The workshop on integrating strategic foresight and foresight thinking into women city leaders was co-facilitated by Dr. Mei Mei Song of Tamkang University in Taiwan, Janelle Marr, director of Step Beyond based in Australia, Cesar Villanueva of World Futures Studies Federation (WFSF), Shermon Cruz, Director of PhilForesight and Ariana Lutterman of the University of North Carolina.


Photo credit to Ms. Alyanna Andre. 2015.

Facilitators gave lectures and action learning workshops on various futures and strategic foresight tools to explore alternative and preferred Philippine city futures. This futures thinking and strategic foresight capacity building exercise was organized to introduce the emerging field of foresight and futures studies, generate new questions and concepts informed by women perspectives for city futures, public policy, strategic planning and governance. It is one of the five World Futures Studies Federation, a UNESCO and UN consultative partner, locally supported learning labs for the Global South. Futures studies and foresight courses were also held in Mexico, Haiti, Malaysia and Democratic Republic of Congo.

One of the participants exclaimed that “This is my first time to hear about futures studies and I have developed a deeper appreciation of the field and that it is good to know that there is also a different approach to city planning.” Various sectors expounded their commitment to integrate futures thinking into their respective fields, cities and organizations while also looking forward for further partnerships to advance futures literacy and foresight integration in city governance.

vigan city futures photo4vigan city futures photo1

Seeding, Seeing and Growing Alternative Gender Driven City Futures

This is what you get when you have 90% percent women participants in a city futures course. You get to have a lot of provocative ideas and fearless future imaginings, seeds and wildcards like: a compassionate food festival (current food fest promotes consumerism and current practice is really unsustainable – wiser to have a values, health, zero and pollution waste, future-generations, water and child friendly food fest and events); zero child labor futures (cities should continue investing on child education – introduce appreciative intelligence and creativities); challenge patriarchal culture, values and patterns (question worldviews that sees women as sexual objects); mainstream the views and voices of the voiceless – elders, the indigenous and the unborn; inclusion, rights and fair treatment should inform Filipino labor futures; increase people’s access to organic products; design a more nurturing and nourishing cities in more green and open spaces – TREES or FOREST as play areas; vibrant neighborhoods (garden neighborhoods as the heart of cities), car-less, civil society oriented, refined, soft and sensitive, more inclusive and more caring sustainable cities as well as telekinetic enabled robotic techs enhancing local creativities and farmers generating renewable wealth (food and water) and more!

vigan city futures photo2-1vigan city futures photo3Brief report written by Michael Barreiro and Shermon Cruz. Photo credits to Angel Hernando.

Alternative Futures of Global Governance: scenarios and perspectives from the Global South

My paper on the future of global governance published by Emerald Foresight is out!  Download your copy @ and

This paper highlights the emerging roles and perspectives of the Global South in global governance. It identifies some “trading zones” and “emerging issues” that may inspire actors to create new global governance spaces, innovate alternative narratives and design new frameworks of global governance. The purpose of this paper is to provide a critical and informative exploration of the emerging roles and rising influence of the Global South in shaping the future of global governance. Specifically, it inquires into the following questions: How is the Global South impacting the way we govern globally? What are the pushers, pulls and weights to the futures of global governance? Using Jim Dator’s alternative futures archetype, what is the future of global governance? What are the emerging issues and trends?

It uses Sohail Inayatullah’s futures triangle to map the drivers – the pushes, pulls and weights of global governance and Jim Dator’s archetypes – continued economic growth, collapse, conserver and transformation – to imagine and construct alternative futures of global governance.

This special edition on global governance and power also featured a commentary from Johann Galtung and papers from  futurist Anita Sykes-Kelleher, sociologist Bernd Hamm, Jerry Harris, Dennis Morgan, Georgina Murray and more.

Shermon O. Cruz , (2015) “Alternative futures of global governance: scenarios and perspectives from the Global South”, Foresight, Vol. 17 Iss: 2, pp.125 – 142