Future Generations Thinking and Social Foresight

I was able to facilitate a couple of Ilocano youth futures workshop in the province last month and we had about 800 students and youth signed up for a series of futures workshops. The aim of the futures workshop was to expose the Ilocano youth to futures thinking, alternative futures and social foresight.

The workshop we had focused on how the youth perceive and create alternative futures. The workshop had the students list their questions and imaginings about the future.

My approach was emergent as I wanted them to explore and cover different spectrum of personal and community futures. I’ve been facilitating community based futures workshop in the last six months. And the experience was thought provoking and so my plan now is to reach out to at least 5,500 students and youth all over the country. My futures approach was partly inspired by Geert Hoffstedes’ study on long-term orientation (LTO). Sohail Inayatullah’s book on transformative thinking called Questioning the Future: Methods and Tools for Social Transformation plus Richard Slaughter and Marcus Bussey’s book on futures thinking and social foresight inspired me and of course deepened my resolve to organize multisectoral-oriented social foresight events.

So when I had an Ilocano student and youth thinking about the future I usually ask them the four basic futures questions:

What will Ilocos be like in the future say 20, 30 or 40 years from now?

What are your fears and hopes about the future? What are your preferred futures?

What are the fears that might restrict or prohibit you from achieving your desired future?

These questions are straightforward and anyone I mean anybody can ask or explore these questions.

I had the students/youth participants think about the future by focusing their awareness on time, deconstruct the present and imagine alternative types of futures.

I had them questioned default types of futures (official future, single visions, one-man visions) and know their disowned futures (it was evident that the youth does not want unemployment, political dynasties, corruption, etc.).

The futures that I am working on are anchored on the present to create alternative futures.

In the study of Hoffstede on LTO, the Philippines ranked at the lowest in the world on long term orientation. Hoffstede, a social psychologist, had the values of persistence (perseverance), the ordering of relationship by status, thriftiness, and having a sense of shame as long-term oriented values.

These values according to Hoffstede are future oriented and more dynamic.

On the opposite, short term orientation (STO) society’s slopes towards the values of personal steadiness and stability, protecting your face, respect for tradition and reciprocation of favors, greetings and gifts. These values according to Hoffstede are orientated towards the past and the present hence are more static.

In the same study, the Philippines placed in the category of societies with high short-term orientation. China, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan and South Korea were considered societies with high long term orientation implying a pragmatic future-oriented perspective.

The youth futures workshops had uncovered some of the Ilocano youth’s perspectives and questions (personal, community and global). These are some of their questions and imaginings:

The commercialization of the Ilocano emotion widespread in the year 2060 (I shop therefore I am types of thinking)
The raging extinction of biodiversity in Ilocos Norte due to mining and illegal logging
A new Ilocano President gets elected
Nature and trees are worshipped in the year 2060 as humans have realized that they are within and created by nature and not above it.
Cars and other transport vehicles move along on internet signal (their preferred transport futures)
People will have their own drugs or “personalized drugs” is customary (homeopathic therapy prevalent in the future)
Political dynasties ends in the year 2050 or else?
Will I ever reach the age of 75?
When will corruption and poverty end?
When will journalist killing stop?
Will lesbians, gays, bisexuals, trans-genders gain legal rights in the Philippines?
Is there a future to our future?
Will I have a job in the future?
Will robots replace humans?
When will we have a fair and just election?
May puno pa bang maakyatan ang susunod na henerasyon?
Will robots take over the world and our future jobs?
Will aliens arrive in the planet?
In the years yet to come, will there still be fresh air to breath and water to drink?

I am scheduled to visit and pursue similar projects in Cagayan, Ilocos Sur, La Union and Pangasinan. I was invited by some groups and universities in the National Capital Region, the Visayas and Mindanao to facilitate futures thinking and social foresight workshops.

The youth futures workshops I’ve been having were mostly campus based. I would like to thank the Student Affairs Office of Northwestern University and Dean Karl Lenin Benigno, Mr. Jericho DeCastro, Mam Judelyn Salvador, the NSTP group of NWU for integrating youth futures in community engagement.

References

Sohail Inayatullah, Questioning the Future: Methods and Tools for Organizational and Societal Transformation. Tamkang University Press, Taipei, Taiwan. Graduate Institute of Futures Studies. 2012.

Geert Hoffstede, What about the Philippines? Geert Hoffstede 5D Model. Available at http://geert-hofstede.com/philippines.html> Accessed 23 August 2012. See also Geert Hoffstede Official Website available at http://www.geerthofstede.nl/our-books

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