The last few months were pretty brilliant!  Iwas able to co-organize, co-facilitate, present, attend and keynote a number of futures literacy and strategic foresight courses, workshops and related conferences here and abroad:

  1. I partnered with the Department of Agrarian Reform and facilitated a two-day foresight driven planning and capacity building workshop for women cooperatives in Banna, Ilocos Norte;
  2. Keynoted the 26th League of Local Planners and Development Coordinators of the Philippines 2015 Conference held in General Santos City, Philippines. Around 1,200 participants mostly municipal, city and provincial planning and development coordinators attended the plenary session;
  3. Co-hosted and organized with the Rotary Club of Padre Faura Manila the Future Agenda on the Future of Food and Water 2040 at the Casino De Espanol Restaurant Manila;
  4. Facilitated a one-day futures literacy workshop for 120 school administrators and educators in collaboration with the DIWA Learning Systems and the Private Schools Association of the provinces of Tarlac and La Union;
  5. Co-designed and co-facilitated UNESCO Bangkok and Chulalongkorn University’s Futures Literacy Knowledge Lab workshop “Rethinking Education through Imagining Future Scenarios”; 
  6. Presented at the Philippine Sociological Society of Mariano Marcos State University’s forum on the Future of Gender and Philippine Women’s Rights;
  7. Organized a series of meetings with networks and partners to organize, advance and promote via a series of foresight and futures courses and forums in the Philippines.
  8. and two upcoming publications!

Happy to share some yehey! moments and yes! action learning photos of recent events and projects:

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UNESCO Bangkok and Chulalongkorn University Futures Literacy KnowLab workshop @ the Faculty of Education, Chula Uni, 2015

1,200 Philippine Planners attended the conference, General Santos City

@ Annual Planning Conference. 1,200 planners attended the future of Philippine cities and strategic foresight plenary, General Santos City, Mindanao, Philippines

Philippine Planners Conference, Gen San!

Philippine Planners Conference, Gen San!

Futures Literacy for Philippine Millennials, 2015 Laoag City

Futures Literacy for Philippine Millennials, 2015 Laoag City

With DIWA Learning Systems! San Fernando City

With DIWA Learning Systems! San Fernando City

With DIWA Learning Systems, Baguio City!

With DIWA Learning Systems, Baguio City!

Future of Food and Water with Future Agenda 2.0 Manila

Future of Food and Water with Future Agenda and the Rotary Club of Padre Faura Manila, 2015, Manila

Community based foresight planning DAR event, Banna, Ilocos Norte, 2015

Community based foresight planning DAR event, Banna, Ilocos Norte, 2015

Community based foresight planning with the Department of Agrarian Reform, Banna Ilocos Norte, 2015

Community based foresight planning with the Department of Agrarian Reform, Banna Ilocos Norte, 2015

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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

 

How reflective are we? Are we here to predict the future? How do we construct our future?

Are we future conscious or literate? What is the real world? What will the future of the Philippines; the future of humanity look like?

What’s your ridiculous idea about the future? How do we create and design “absurd thoughts” or explore emerging issues that could change or transform the future? What is the role of cultural memory, language and imagination in the way we imagine ourselves and interpret reality? Is there link a between imagination and cultural memory in the way we make sense of the world? What is the function of culture in reframing the present?

These are some of the questions that participants tried to explore in the second of the strategic foresight course series organized by the Center for Engaged Foresight (CEF) held at Northwestern University in Laoag City, Philippines.

The purpose of the two-day workshop was to engage participants in the exploration of emerging issues and alternative futures; navigate complexity and locate the interconnections of trends, issues and their long-term impact and outcomes.

Dr. Marcus Bussey, a historian and futurist at the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore and the University of Sunshine Coast Australia and Shermon Cruz, Director of the Center for Engaged Foresight facilitated the two-day futures course. The workshop was organized in partnership with Northwestern University, De La Salle University and the Futures Evocative Australia.

Rigorous Imagination and Creating Resilient Identities

“One can’t believe impossible things,” said Alice.
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen.
“When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass, chapter 5

On the first day, the workshop underlined the significance of imagination in designing positive futures. Bussey argued that while the future was an unexplored terrain, the future could be opened by the self rigorously engaged in the practice of imagination. The human capacity to imagine “impossible things” was basic to the process of imagining alternative futures. The future according to Bussey can be classified as “dark” or “open”. Dark futures imply “closed presents” which means that the future is shaped by the values and habits of risk management and fortress mentality (competitive, survival is the name of the game) while  Open futures is focused on collaborative commons, risk-taking, innovation and trust.  To Bussey it is through imagination that we learn to “strategize” about the world around us. This part of the workshop emphasized f  imagination (alternative and positive futures) and our ability to succeed in designing new pathways for change.

Source: Dr. Marcus Bussey PPT, Strategic Approaches to the Future 2013, Laoag City, Philippines.

Source: Dr. Marcus Bussey PPT, Strategic Approaches to the Future 2013, Laoag City, Philippines.

Culture of Resilient Identity. Source: Dr. Marcus Bussey PPT, Strategic Approaches to the Future 2013, Laoag City, Philippines.

Culture of Resilient Identities.
Source: Dr. Marcus Bussey PPT, Strategic Approaches to the Future 2013, Laoag City, Philippines.

Unpacking the Present and some Strategic Issues for the Philippines

On the first day, the group worked on to identify and explore some themes and issues using the futures collage, futures triangle and futures wheel analysis. They sketched their images of the future, rated and ranked them from 1 to 10. 1 was the most likely and 10 as the least likely future. The goal was to get a hint of the group ‘imaginings’ and assumptions about the future. Our context was local and global. Interestingly, we were able to identify some themes that were important to the group:

• Family and Portable Homes
• Information Technology, Robotics and Agriculture
• Climate Change (Water and Food)
• Population, Poverty and Migration
• Governance and Mining
• City Futures and Sustainable Living
• Mars Colony

The group’s most likely future are:

• Mars Colony (It was surprising to learn that colonizing Mars was the most likely future (believable future) for the participants. This could mean that colonizing Mars was more probable than reversing the impact of climate change or addressing corruption in governance and mining, population growth and poverty.)
• Urbanization (Informed by the urgency to rapidly urbanize (model was influenced by continued economic growth city models) participants had urbanization as the most likely image of the future city.)
• Climate Change
• Migration
• Robotics and information technology in agriculture

Their least likely future was :

• Green cities
• Gaia Tech and Stewardship
• Sustainable lifestyle
• Food Sufficiency

(These are emerging concepts, I might say transformative futures.)

Mapping the Future and Some Alternatives

“Futurist is not the expert. You are!”

After sketching their images of the future,  the group mapped the future of their preferred strategic issue using the futures triangle and the futures wheel analysis. Here, our intention was to immerse the group on how to use futures tools and techniques to public policy, development planning and decision-making. A number of case studies were presented.

Source: Dr. Marcus Bussey PPT, Strategic Approaches to the Future 2013, Laoag City, Philippines.

Source: Dr. Marcus Bussey PPT, Strategic Approaches to the Future 2013, Laoag City, Philippines.

Below is a summary of the group output after they applied the futures triangle to an issue and explored possible alternatives.

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Anticipating the Unknown knowns and Unknown unknowns

In the afternoon, we had a session on futures wheel analysis.Personal choices, policies and decision-impacts to an issue on the longer-term future were explored and analyzed.The method enabled the group to explore the consequences of their decision and policies beyond their primary impact. They were able to anticipate some emerging issues including the impacts unanticipated effects. Here the complexity and interconnections of social, political, technological, religious and economic issues including causal links were explored. Their gaps (forces resisting anticipatory change), their breaks (the blindsides) and leverages (enabling forces) became apparent when the futures wheel was applied.

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Stories of the Future

“A strategy without story does not gain traction”

The second day discussed the role and function of worldviews, myths, metaphors, cultural memory and language in creating futures scenarios. The group accessed their cultural memories and used their local language to explore and communicate the future. As a result, the conversation and facilitation were more open, more intimate and more imaginative. This enabled the participants to create more plausible scenarios of the future. Lots of insights emerged in the scenario construction workshop. Presentations and feedback deepened when they used the local language to explore scenarios on: the implementation of the reproductive health law in the Philippines; the story of Juan De La Cruz (poverty and unemployment as a pendulum between the better and the worse case scenarios); local communities disengagement and engagements with the latest information and communication technologies. Scenarios of the  lazy community, sleeping community, the busy and dizzy community and waking communities emerged. Student participants where able to create some scenarios on the the future of student learning and study habits.

Understanding the Self and Opening to New Realms of Possibility

The two day future course showed how  strategic futures tools and methods can be applied to development planning, public policy formulation, institutional building, etc. Sessions were intimate and integral (we wanted it deep enough to engage the inner and outer selves in the practice of foresight) enough for the group to appreciate the necessity of ‘futures’ in building more positive futures.

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