Gaining Futures Literacy through Undergraduate Engaged Scholarship

"Futures Literacy" is a concept developed in Futures Studies, a field commonly associated with business and executive education, to capture the disciplined techniques and scholarly dispositions developed by individuals that learn to systematically plan for the future. While the primary "users" or "adopters" of futures literacy are typically advanced scholars and professional scenario planners, the authors experimented with training undergraduate students to conduct scenario planning with local, community-based organizations near their college campus and gain futures literacy in the process. As the future becomes more and more uncertain, undergraduate students -- conceivably, around the world -- need futures literacy in order to better understand the future, anticipate the consequences of their behaviors and decisions, and, when possible, how to change the world, we hope, for the better. Disciplined techniques in futures studies, include but are not limited to scenario planning, backcasting, and strategic foresight, to name only a few. In the process of mastering these techniques, the learner undergoes some attitudinal and intellectual changes we refer to as scholarly dispositions. These shifting attitudes include, but are also not limited to, new sensitization to probing uncertainty, deeper understanding of the nature of the future, and a fresh view of how to enact change by running, for example, multiple scenarios of many possible and plausible futures. This paper will describe the notion of futures literacy as it is currently understood and describe our efforts to inculcate undergraduate students with this (relatively) new literacy.

Futures, Futures Studies, Literacy, Scenario Planning, Undergraduate, Planning

Literacies Learning

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

  • Hailley Fargo
    • Engagement Librarian, Pennsylvania State University, United States United States