The Futures thinking toolkit provides a structured framework for developing students’ futures thinking skills.
The toolkit supports students to develop scenarios that take into account the following:
- Existing situation – what happens now and why?
- Trends – how does the existing situation differ from the past and why? Are the changes desirable? Who benefits? Who loses?
- Drivers – what is causing the changes and why? Drivers can include demographic changes, globalisation, environmental damage, developments in science and technology, increasing poverty, religious revival, priorities in national and international governance and changes in community perceptions, beliefs, values and attitudes.
- Possible futures – what might happen in the future?
- Probable futures – what is most likely to happen in the future? Which trends and drivers are likely to persist? What might change them?
- Wild cards – what unlikely events might occur that would have a big impact on the future?
- Preferable futures – what do you want to happen in the future and why?
To find out more about developing students’ futures thinking, see Teaching Futures Thinking.
Using the Futures thinking toolkit
The futures thinking toolkit is designed to be adapted to suit the topic or issue that your students are exploring. For example, you can use the toolkit to help students develop scenarios related to future foods, future fuels or future medical care – or you can customise the prompts to suit a different topic or issue.
Students in the early stages of thinking about the future may tend to focus on the future as it affects them – that is, personally and locally. As their thinking becomes more advanced, this may extend to national and global trends and drivers.
- Explore with your students how advances in technology and science have changed how we live now compared with how our grandparents and great grandparents lived – positive and negative.
- Use the futures thinking image to prompt and shift thinking from a ‘more of the same – normalised future’ to a ‘futuristic thinking – using your imagination’ way of thinking. Use the following as discussion starters. What might the images represent? What images would you prefer to see as a projection of the future? What is missing or not represented?
- How will changes in technology impact our lives in the future and the lives of future generations?
- What role/s do we as citizens have in the future? Will we be part of the production of new innovations?
- Will we be the drivers or the users of new innovations – or both? What values may guide us in how new innovations and technology are funded, created and used?
- Watch trailers of movies with a futuristic theme and discuss elements as they are portrayed in the movie (optional).
- Download the toolkit in word and modify the question prompts as appropriate. You can also remove some of the columns. The worksheet is designed to be printable on A3 sheets of paper.
Note: Before students proceed with this activity, we recommend that you explore the issue and the purpose of futures thinking to establish a foundation for informed decision making. It’s also important to establish a classroom environment that supports students in sharing their perspectives and listening to others with respect so students feel supported and able to openly evaluate ideas, weigh up evidence, detect bias and justify their decisions.
For more ideas, see Teaching futures thinking.
Artificial intelligence and generative learning have many positives and quite a few drawbacks. Use the toolkit to explore how changes in this technology, including ChatGPT, is impacting our lives now, in the near future and the lives of future generations.
This Connected article explores the development of artificial intelligence (AI) from a social and ethical perspective, an issue of increasing relevance in our lives.
See how our own National Science Challenge, Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities, is exploring the future of our homes, towns and cities.