Introducing the Philippine Center for Foresight Education and Innovation Research Northwestern University (PhilForesight)

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“In a time of drastic change, it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer remains” Eric Hoffler, Philosopher (extracted from UNESCO’s How Do We Identify Great Opportunities? A Reflective report, 2015)

Welcome to the Future!

To paraphrase a brainy quote from the great Yogi Berra, the future isn’t what it used to be and the setting in which the country operates is shifting rapidly at the local and global levels. The direction, shape and provision of higher education, learning, research, industry demands, workplace settings and society will be very different from what we see today.

Roughly three to four months ago, the board of directors of Northwestern University (NWU) Laoag approved the creation of the Philippine Center for Foresight Education and Innovation Research (PhilForesight). PhilForesight was establish to  advance forward knowledge, futures awareness, education and research and the application of futures studies and strategic foresight in the Philippines. The idea to establish a center dedicated to futures studies and foresight was conceived in one of many after conference conversations we’ve had at the UNESCO Laoag futures literacy knowledge lab forum-workshop.

As a forerunner of futures studies and strategic foresight in the Philippines, the PhilForesight is a hub for futures and strategic foresight teaching (theories, knowledge, content), research (method), innovation and action-learning (applied).   Philforesight aims to advance futures studies and strategic foresight on a social and wider scale.

An after UNESCO FL KnowLab forum workshop open space and dinner for facilitators and organizers hosted by Northwestern University last year
An after UNESCO Futures Literacy Knowledge Laboratory forum workshop  dinner and open space for facilitators and organizers hosted by Northwestern University last year

Northwestern University through the University Center for Research and Development (UCRD) took a case study approach to create and shape the operating design and framework of the PhilForesight center. NWU took note and learned much from real life and learning by acting examples, skype and email conversations and engagements with six of the top futures and foresight institutes and international organizations in the world – the Hawaii Research Institute of Futures Studies at the University of Hawaii, the Graduate institute of Futures Studies at Tamkang University Taiwan, the Center for Engaged Foresight, the UNESCO Chair in Anticipatory Systems at the University of Trento, Italy, the UNESCO HQ Foresight Section and the World Futures Studies Federation.

Also, last summer, Northwestern University via its institutional planning office and Philforesight funded and organized  a six days foresight driven strategic planning forum-workshop for its middle and senior level managers and supervisors to explore and create the university’s alternative and preferred futures and to identify emerging opportunities or to borrow UNESCO’s context, “great opportunities” ahead. NWU hopes to share  its learning by doing experiences on how foresight drives and informs Northwestern University’s strategic and scenario plans, human resource, organizational development, leadership and decision-making.

Maree Conway lecture on foresight driven planning and planning beyond the status quo at the 2015 NWU Strategic Planning Conference.
Maree Conway lecture on foresight driven planning and at the 2015 NWU Strategic Planning Conference

This month, PhilForesight in partnership with the World Futures Studies Federation, Step Beyond and the University of Northern Philippines hosted and organized the WFSF’s Learning Lab project on futures literacy for women city leaders in Vigan City and in partnership with the Rotary Club of Manila, the future agenda forum on the future of food and water.

WFSF Learning Lab on futures literacy for women city leaders, Vigan City, 2015
WFSF Learning Lab on futures literacy for women city leaders, Vigan City, 2015
Future of Food and Water and the World in 2025. Casino De Espanol De Manila.
Future of Food and Water and the World in 2025. Casino De Espanol De Manila. Future Agenda 2.0. 2015.
PhilForesight Director Shermon Cruz at the Asia Pacific Foresight Network Conference at Tamkang University, Taiwan
PhilForesight at the Asia Pacific Foresight Network Conference at Tamkang University, Taiwan. 2015.

In a nutshell, PhilForesight’s objectives and services are: 1. To contribute to the global effort of creating spaces and opportunities for futures thinking, education, networking, leadership and development – theory and applied; 2. Offer futures thinking courses (for NWU students and its communities), workshops and events and activities and opportunities for internships – international and local; 3. Become a knowledge incubator and build partnerships with the private sector, industry, government, international organizations, think tanks, super-empowered individuals, futurists among others.

The goal of any organization is to empower, PhilForesight provides avenues to capacitate individuals and organizations to develop alternative and innovative ways to create their preferred future.

For more about PhilForesight and Northwestern University, please check these links –

https://www.facebook.com/PhilForesight?ref=br_rs

http://www.nwu.edu.ph/

Transforming Philippine Cities: An Integrative Foresight Course for Women City Leaders

Short

Many are worried that our concepts of resilience, city planning and urban regeneration are very male oriented and societal, city futures worldviews are patriarchal. So what would Philippine cities be 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 World Futures Studies Federation (WFSF), the UNESCO Participation Programme, the PhilForesight, Northwestern University, Step Beyond, the Center for Engaged Foresight in partnership with the University of Northern Philippines as our principal host will explore these questions in the second Philippine city futures course on June 24-27 Vigan City.

Specifically, the objectives of this course are:

1. Introduce futures thinking and strategic foresight as an emerging concept, tool and technique in city futures, strategic planning, public policy, decision-making and development;

2. Engage participants in the exploration and construction of alternative and preferred city futures;

3. The focus is to enable participants and cities to design their own strategic pathways and enhance their foresight capacities for adaptive response and strategic renewal in a climate change era.

For more information, reservation and official invitation please email us at engagedforesight@gmail.com or call us at Northwestern University with trunk lines: (077) 670-85-10, 670-86-07 to 10 TeleFax Number: (077) 670-68-64/771-38-14

 

Takeaways from the World Futures Learning Lab, Malaysia

So I might be late sharing this update but well it was a brilliant event and would love to share a gallery of action photos courtesy of Think City and yes, some of our takeaways from the World Futures Studies Federation (WFSF), Right Livelihood College, GIFS organized futures course with UNESCO in Penang, Malaysia this year.

It was amazing to have met new and old friends from the WFSF, to co-keynote the WFSF learning lab, assist in the workshop and exchange and share ideas with the best like Anwar Fazal, a grassroots environmental activist and director of the Right Livelihood College, Anthony Capon, a public health physician and director of the United Nations University  International Institute for Global Health and Sohail Inayatullah, director of Metafuture.org and professor Meimei Song from Tamkang University.

This futures course co-directed by Cesar Villanueva, WFSF and  Duncan Cave of Think City, is a LEALA pilot hosted event. The course blends local face to face workshops with online learning of futures studies and foresight.

For more about the LEALA project please do check the WFSF link here – http://www.wfsf.org/our-activities/world-futures-learning-lab/penang

The course targeted a diverse group of global audience and was held in three different locations – Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo; Cairo, Egypt, and Penang, Malaysia.

Takeaways

From an analysis of the experiences of participants, we could draw several conclusions.

First, futures literacy according to participants was essential and that more of it should happen soon for other to experience futures processes and methods.

Second, the course enriched their meaning of ‘reframing’ and got exposed to multiple perspectives and layers of analysis, to borrow the words of a participant in the course “tweaked” her previous “theory of world-making” and to use the “CLA framework” more in the exploration of alternative and preferred futures.

Third, “courage” was required and that we need to create more learning spaces for people to question their own – positive and negative – biases about the future.

And of course, yes, the participants noted that, despite our epistemic and artificial boundaries, ‘we are a family’ that are always searching for ‘new narratives’ and ‘new methods’ needing ‘new friends and networks’. We are a family that could “get along well without a fight”, desiring “to start the change somewhere” to transform the future now!

A preview of the comprehensive report is available @ the WFSF website –

http://www.wfsf.org/our-activities/world-futures-learning-lab/penang

 

Participants and organizers of the World Futures LEALA Learning Lab, Penang, Malaysia. Photos credit to Think City 2014.
Participants and organizers of the World Futures LEALA Learning Lab, Penang, Malaysia. Photo credit to Think City 2014.

 

Capital! Capital!
Capital! Capital! Photo Credit to Think City 2014
Photo credit to Think City 2014
Photo credit to Think City 2014
Anthony Capon, UNU -IIGH
Anthony Capon, UNU -IIGH Photo credit to Think City 2014
Shermon Cruz, Center for Engaged Foresight, Think City, 2014
Shermon Cruz, Center for Engaged Foresight, Think City, 2014
LEALA Learning Lab, Think City, UNESCO, GIFS  Photo credit to Think City 2014
LEALA Learning Lab, Think City, UNESCO, GIFS Photo credit to Think City 2014
Photo credit to Think City 2014
Photo credit to Think City 2014
Professor Sohail Inayatullah facilitated the workshop. Photos credit to Think City 2014
Professor Sohail Inayatullah on CLA, facilitated the workshop. Photos credit to Think City 2014
WFSF LEALA Course Director Cesar Villanueva. Photo credit Think City 2014
WFSF LEALA Course Director Cesar Villanueva. Photo credit Think City 2014