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Futures Research Methods and Applications in Natural Resources

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Society & Natural Resources


Futures research is a transdisciplinary field of inquiry that uses a variety of methods to explore possible, plausible, and preferable futures. The goal is to develop foresight—insight into how and why the future could be different than today—to improve policy, planning, and decision making. Scores of futures research methods have been developed or adapted from other disciplines, beginning with pioneering work in the US military and RAND Corporation in the 1950s and 1960s. But many social scientists and natural resource professionals are unaware of these methods and most have never heard of futures research as a distinct field of study. This paper presents a framework for categorizing futures research methods, reviews selected methods, and provides examples of their application to natural resource and environmental issues.


Futures research; strategic foresight; methods; methodological pluralism


Bengston, David N. 2019. Futures Research Methods and Applications in Natural Resources. Society & Natural Resources. 32(10): 1099-1113.

Last updated on: July 12, 2019