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Principles for Thinking about the Future and Foresight Education

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World Futures Review


Most fields of study have introductory textbooks with the word "principles" in the title: "Principles of Economics," "Principles of Ecology," and many others. The principles explained in these textbooks are the core unifying and ordering concepts for their respective fields. They provide a frame of reference for students who are new to the field and taking the first steps toward mastering it. The abundance of "principles" textbooks and long history of the use of core principles in education suggest that a clear set of unifying principles may be a useful way to teach students how to productively think about and understand complex topics. This article identifies and describes a set of core principles for thinking about the future based on a review of more than 50 years of published futures research literature. The ten principles are as follows: The future is (1) plural; (2) possible, plausible, probable, and preferable; (3) open; (4) fuzzy; (5) surprising; (6) not surprising; (7) fast; (8) slow; (9) archetypal; and (10) inbound and outbound. The principles are described and their potential educational use is discussed. Core futures principles may be useful for introducing students of all ages to thinking about and preparing for the future.


principles; foresight education; futures education; core concepts; disciplinary framework


Bengston, David N. 2018. Principles for Thinking about the Future and Foresight Education. World Futures Review. 10(3): 193-202.

Last updated on: September 5, 2018