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From future-proofing to futuring

  • Conference
  • September 18, 2023,14:30-15:00
  • Vienna, Austria

From future-proofing to futuring

In the face of pan- and perma-crises that do not stand alone, but are intertwined and in complex relation with each other, talk of change and transformation is ubiquitous! Yet, deep change remains obstinately elusive. All too often, limited to providing a quick fix and future-proofing it, leaving the underlying causes and issues comfortably hidden.

Why is it so hard to change?

In part because we suffer from a collective and acute “poverty of imagination”. The way we think about the future, our anticipatory thinking, has in effect cut us off from the deep inspiration the future is rife with. We think of the future as something to predict, harness and control, rather than a source of emergence and inspiration. So, despite the incessant talk of disruption, no matter how hard we try, we tend to reproduce our default patterns, all too often conflating cool special effects, nifty design, cool technology for change.

This is where Futures Literacy comes in. Futures Literacy has been developed by UNESCO, as one of the essential capabilities for the 21st century. It is the ability to understand the role and power of the future in what we see and do in the present. Futures Literacy is not about predicting the future. It's about understanding the forces that are shaping the future, and about using that understanding to create a better future.

This is an invitation to begin exploring how this capability can contribute to harnessing the full power of the future and help us consciously and deliberately step outside our proverbial box!


Martin Calnan
Martin Calnan Chair
UNESCO Chair for Futures Literacy (FAST)

Martin has an eclectic background. His professional journey has taken him from marketing of luxury products to founding a digital agency, by way of developing indoor climbing centers and consulting… A not so direct, but maybe fitting trajectory to his present role as Director of Executive Education at Ecole des Ponts Business School in Paris, where he has the enviable mission of creating new and transformative experiences for executives around the world. He is also the chaired professor of the UNESCO Chair in Futures Literacy, which is the field of futures studies that focuses seeing the emergent, beyond the confines of our experience and trying to predict, and therefore control the future.

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