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Futures Thinking


Dernbach R.

Course director


Thinking about the future has left the field of science-fiction. In recent years, many organizations have started to systematically anticipate possible future scenarios. This includes corporations and consultancies establishing strategic foresight departments, governments assessing the impact of new technologies, NGOs initiating participatory future frameworks and a wave future scenarios developed by artists and designers. It seems one can no longer understand the present without its imagined futures. This course is an introduction to theories and methods driving this turn to the future. What are anticipated futures? What is the influence of media in the construction of future scenarios? How do organizations, activists and artists use futures thinking? And how do anticipated futures shape public and private imagination? In our seminar these questions are discussed, and selected methods are tested (e.g. narrative foresight, scenario building, design fiction) to explore futures thinking and its impact on society.


This course provides an introduction to future studies and critical thinking about the future. Departing from key debates in the social sciences and humanities, students get to know concepts of futures thinking and experiment with methods such as narrative foresight, scenario building and design fiction. In a final project, students practice futures thinking in a case study.

Teaching mode

In presence

Learning methods

The course combines lectures and guided text discussions with experiments with different methods of futures thinking. These include workshops, writing sprints and interactions with foresight professionals. Eventually, students will develop a final foresight project. 

Examination information

- Final Project – 70% 
- Exercises and Assignments – 30%