The basic steps of a future workshop are to identify common problems or issues with a process or system. Then create alternatives that improve or eliminate these problems, and develop the process for how this future might be implemented.
Future Workshops can be an intriguing way of engaging a group with the processes, practicality and logistics of a development project. Through the activity participants learn to identify restrictions and possibilities within the topic of discussion and think creatively towards solutions
There are typically four phases in a Future Workshop: Preparatory Phase, Critique Phase, Fantasy Phase and Implementation Phase. These different phases are guided by the facilitator, who should provide materials and methods for evaluating the existing situation and the proposed future scenario.
It is advisable that the facilitators require some preparation on the part of the participants. For the group to engage in meaningful discussions a common understanding of the topic and possible alternatives is necessary. For example, if the topic is transport the facilitator could provide 2 contrasting case studies of cities that addressed this topic in order that participants will already be thinking critically about the topic.
Critique the stated problem using brainstorming techniques. Participants could write problems on post-it notes and then stick them on the wall so they can be easily organised into themes (environmental, social, etc.). Once all perspectives of the problem have been collected small groups of 3-5 people could take sets of problems and reformulate them into a concise problem that can be addressed in the next phase.
There are many ways to guide this phase. The objective should be to have each of the small groups agree on an outline of their vision for the future and present it to the entire group.
Beyond the practical exercise of a Future Workshop participants could be asked to prepare individual papers or “portfolios” that consider and reflect on the process of identifying problems and opportunities, and the practical measures of developing a feasible solution.
11 to 30 students
Up to 3 lecture units
4-7 lecture units
up to 1 semester
more than 1 semester
- Internet connection necessary
Future Workshop(Resource ID: 69)
- Brain storming
- Discussion / debate
- Creative method
The facilitator (teacher) of a Future Workshop should prepare a topic for the group to discuss (eg. Mobility/ Transport) and bring useful documents, and other relevant information for that topic.
Topic information should include:
- Relevant information about the topic (articles, an existing proposal, case studies)
- In some contexts it might be useful to suggest some academic literature that informs about the topic
Useful props might include:
- Maps of a city detailing information relevant to the discussion – participants should be able to alter these.
- Implements for altering the map (eg. coloured pens, post-it notes etc.)
Additionally, through the Future Workshop the stakeholder will share in the mutual learning afforded by the interdisciplinary approach and the open and democratic structure of the activity where participation and compromise will be crucial to successfully developing a feasible vision.
Uses a variety of common methods like brainstorming, and envisioning.
The intended learning outcomes are to enable the participants to determine shortcomings in development proposals and opportunities to improve the situation. Further, the activity encourages creativity in tackling real world problems as well as grounding these alternative plans in terms of practical implementation and identify stakeholders, partners and assets that could strengthen implementation
Requires proactivity and willingness from participants.
Jungk, R, & Müllert, N. (1987). Future workshops: How to create desirable futures. London: Institute for Social Inventions. Available: http://www.imm.dtu.dk/~rvvv/CPPS/6Chapter6Thefutureworkshop.pdf
KFUG - Karl-Franzens-University Graz