Seeing and Shaping Our Future: Becoming Better Agents of Change and Transformation

Seeing and Shaping Our Future: Becoming Better Agents of Change and Transformation
Ruben Nelson, of Foresight Canada, held at the Design Exchange April 2-3, 2012
Sponsored by the British Council

The workshop was primarily held for the Transatlantic Network 2020 and was supported by the British Council, which sustains this group of young social and business leaders from around the EU and North America.  The Canadian branch of the British Council is moving to Toronto from Ottawa and this is one of its first sponsored events.
The workshop was attended by some thirty community leaders and activists, and was a great opportunity to understand the workshop process from a participant’s point of view. Attending from OCAD University were Peter Jones, Jeremy Bowes, Petri Tanninen, Peg Lahn, and recent SFI graduate Jon Resnick. It was a great opportunity to participate with a diverse and savvy group of young leaders and our own students in the mix. We earned a lot of positive regard from the other Toronto participants in particular, who will be following up with us, through Peter Jones and the Design with Dialogue group and other SFI and OCAD U community events.

Ruben Nelson acknowledged OCAD U’s SFI program as the future of foresight programs in Canada, and said that SFI is becoming one of the leading lights in the field globally.  He and faculty are working together on the further development of “Foresight 2.0” for strategic foresight for systemic societal change.  He is working closely with Alberta’s premier and ministries in areas of regional and Canada-wide foresight.

The workshop sessions were focused on the theme of Shaping our Future, and teasing out emerging themes of future Canadian society, which was essentially a vision for Civilization 2.0. The event was co-facilitated by Shelly Barnec, also with Foresight Canada. The workshop was simply structured from a methods point of view:

  • Generation of initial desired future states, critical requirements of the future
  • Three levels of generality, core patterns of life/community/civilization
  • Generation of values, trends and strategic drivers in Canada
  • Formulation of 3 horizons for near to long term bridging
  • Creation of bridging strategies to envision the shift from Horizon 1 to Horizon 3.

Good discussion from all, and fascinating commentary from Ruben, who shows his lifetime of experience in these areas. The event was well documented and Petri Tanninen captured the group’s content work in photos to produce a common document. Some of the information that emerged around change drivers, and bridging strategies to achieve the “future we desire” was very insightful, and reinforces the need for the Strategic Foresight & Innovation program and sLab to engage more often in this public discussion, and to feed resulting insights back into our own program and curriculum.