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Futurists: Guides on the road we'll travel

The Toronto Star reports on the Ontario College of Art & Design's (OCAD) masters program "of design in strategic foresight and innovation". OCAD is the first school in Canada to offer a "futurist" program--a program that challenges students to research current trends in order to make forecasts for the future.

"A futurist is a professional who fastidiously researches current trends and patterns to identify the driving forces of change. From there, they paint possible scenarios of what the near future holds. They're hired by Fortune 500 companies and governments to act as advisers and consultants, and forecast where technology, security, health care, politics and sustainability are headed."

"Last year, the Ontario College of Art & Design became the first in Canada to offer a master's of design in strategic foresight and innovation — a two-year, part-time course aimed at mid-career professionals. The program challenges students to solve complex problems — be they political, entrepreneurial, environmental or sociological — by examining the present, forecasting outcomes and devising with solutions that stretch the imagination and explore ideas outside the linear-shaped box."

"The first phase is horizon scanning," explains Greg Van Alstyne, director of the Strategic Innovation Lab, part of the futurist program. "We're looking for quiet signals of change over the horizon. Foresight is not about predicting the future, but about exploring scenario outcomes . . . The goal is to get beyond personal blind spots and biases."

"Students come from multidisciplinary backgrounds and include health-care industry workers, entrepreneurs and science fiction writers such as Karl Schroeder, who was already working as a consultant for the Canadian government writing future "wild card" scenarios on matters of security and technology."

read full story here
original source Toronto Star
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