Chapter 1. Introduction – Our Emerging Foresight Field

Foresight Courses

A few hundred foresight courses, both topical futures courses and foresight methods/practice courses, are available from universities and other organizations globally, in both traditional and online formats. A number of smaller lists of foresight courses exist, but our field is in need of an updated online global list of foresight courses that is representative of foresight’s diversity of skills and methods. Would anyone like to take on this volunteer project for FERN and GlobalForesight.org?

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One very innovative new foresight course is Singularity University’s ten-week Graduate Study Program, started in 2009. It challenges 80 students each Summer, selected from around the world, to develop projects that could improve the lives of as many as a billion people over ten years, by leveraging exponentially advancing technologies. I am an advisor in Futures and Foresight for this program. It has tuition fees of $29,500, and helps student applicants with fundraising for that tuition, and has a growing pool of scholarship and fundraising matching funds for deserving applicants. By asking its applicants to fundraise for their tuition, and having a very selective application process (typically over 1,000 annual applicants) SU ensures their students will have some entrepreneurial abilities and be highly motivated. Thus the peer interactions and the growing network of course graduates become themselves a great advantage for students.

It would be excellent to see more institutions offer multi-week foresight, strategy, and innovation courses of the SU-type in coming years. SU has leadership of the premium price position, but there is ample room for new entrants at the lower end of price. Keeping applicant and network quality high without high price is of course a challenge that course designers must creatively overcome. Startup courses, like Plug & Play’s Startup Camp, and startup MOOCs (massive open online courses) like Udacity’s The Lean Launchpad and Coursera’s Startup Engineering are moving in this direction, but foresight is presently a minor component to these programs.

What would also be excellent to see soon would be a few low-cost foresight MOOCs offering high-quality overviews of our field, for self-motivated professionals not yet sure of the value of spending $3-5K on a foresight certificate program. We could also use a low-cost MOOC-based strategic foresight program offered by a top-tier educational institution, similar to the $7,000 Masters degree in Computer Science now available from Georgia Tech via Udacity. MOOCs are not yet for everyone. At present they work best for highly self-motivated and online-savvy students. But when they offer good online and offline socialization and professional networking opportunities, MOOCs can provide a peer and alumni network that can be just as valuable (weaker but far larger) as the social networks students enter when they physically attend a selective university. With the right course providers, socialization activities, and team dynamics, today’s MOOCs will become much more motivating and career-useful in coming years.

This year, FERN associate Sandjar Kozubaev is teaching Introduction to Strategic Thinking, as a free gateway MOOC for potential foresight professionals. Check it out if you think you might benefit from such a course. Let’s hope we see many more foresight MOOCs in coming years, affiliated with good universities and consultancies, and designed with great team dynamics and much better online social and alumni networks and work opportunities for MOOC graduates.

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