Primary Foresight Associations
Here are the main professional associations in our nascent field. They are ranked below by their current level of focus on professional foresight practice:
- Association of Professional Futurists (APF). Since 2002. APF is an online organization of ~300 members dedicated to development and support of professional consulting or organizational futurists. They run an Annual Conference an annual Professional Development Workshop co-located with the WFS conference, and more frequent Virtual Gatherings. They have a great discussion list and a thriving practice support community. They have a task force, led by Andy Hines, presently engaged in better defining and professionalizing foresight practice.
- World Future Society (WFS). Since 1966. In 2013, WFS had ~15 full-time staff in Washington, DC, but they ran into financial difficulties thereafter. Their board brought in a dynamic new leader, Julie Friedman Steele, and WFS moved to smaller, leaner headquarters in Chicago in 2015. WFS published the excellent bimonthly The Futurist magazine from 1967-2015, and the academic foresight journal World Future Review. They continue to run a great annual conference in North America, WorldFuture, which attracts roughly 1,000 attendees. They also sponsor ~15 variously active WFS chapters that engage the public in regular discussion of future-oriented topics.
- World Futures Studies Federation (WFSF). Since 1973. WFSF is a professional association for ~300 academic futurists seeking to advance the field of futures studies. They run an Annual International Conference and an Online Centre for Pedagogical Resources in Futures Studies in partnership with UNESCO.
- The Millennium Project (TMP). Since 1996. Non-profit think tank of 3,500 scholars, business, and policy futurists. TMP collects research and feedback from its 50 Nodes globally for its annual State of the Future report, Futures Research Methodology book, and special studies. They’re also developing an online Global Futures Intelligence System (GFIS). TMP is not technically a professional association, but it functions as one for those who do policy or governance foresight, so we include it here.
A few proprietary collaborative foresight platforms like Shaping Tomorrow, TechCast, and Wikistrat also deserve honorable mention here. They aren’t professional associations but they are accessible enough to practitioners who want to participate in them, and they do such good work that they are excellent places for on-the-job professional development.
All of these organizations deserve your support. Join the ones that most interest you, volunteer, donate, attend their conferences, post on their blogs, run for their open offices, do whatever kind of participation best fits your needs and abilities, but participate, don’t spectate. Primary foresight is still a small and emerging field, and it can greatly use your help.