Frequently Asked Questions - TOC
1. FAQs About the Association of Professional Futurists
2. FAQs About the Futures Field
Responses to FAQs:
1. FAQs about the Association of Professional Futurists
What is the APF?
The Association of Professional Futurists is a growing community of professional futurists dedicated to promoting professional excellence and demonstrating the value of futures thinking.
Futurists work in global corporations, small businesses, consultancies, education, non-profits, and governments. The APF was founded in 2002 and now includes members from over 20 countries.What is the history of the APF?
The APF was founded in 2002 by an informal network of professional futurists. A community of like-minded people saw the need to create a network to help advance the field. While the original conversation began in Houston (which remains the formal address of the APF), the first meeting took place in Seattle. We are now a worldwide group of foresight professionals including practitioners, academics, students, and organizations.
A summary of the APF history can be found here.
What are the goals of the APF?
The APF has three main goals:
- promote professional excellence in the field
- grow the community of professional futurists
- demonstrate the value of futures thinking
1. APF is promoting professional excellence in the field by developing standards, identifying best practices, and innovating new techniques for understanding the future. Professional Excellence includes:
- professional development
- sharing knowledge within the field
- identifying and promoting best practices
- developing standards for the field
- promoting professional ethics
- innovating new techniques
2. APF is developing the community of professional futurists by hosting member events and supporting an online community where futurists can exchange ideas and best practices. Our activities include:
- hosting an annual conference each year in a unique setting that applies cutting edge thinking to futures practice,
- supporting an online community on the APF listserv where futurists exchange ideas and best practices, and through social media such as a monthly twitter chat called #futrchat,
- publishing a quarterly electronic newsletter called Compass, and
- hosting professional development opportunities both face-to-face and in online webinars.
3. APF is demonstrating the value of futures thinking by acting as an advocate for professional futurists, conducting media outreach and pointing people towards the resources that can best meet their needs. APF is demonstrating value by:
- acting as an advocate for professional futurists by promoting the profession and showing the value of futures thinking to those not familiar with it yet,
- conducting media outreach to help the media better understand what futures thinking is,
- connecting the media with futurists who are experts in specific subject areas,
- recognizing excellence through the Most Important Futures Works and Student Awards programs,
- hosting speaker and consultant directories, and
- profiling members on our website.
The APF strategic plan adopted in 2011 can be found here.What do you have to do to be in the APF?
Candidates for APF membership must be recommended by a member and meet two of six qualification criteria. More information is provided in the Membership section.
The six criteria include being employed as a consulting or organizational futurist, obtaining a Post-Graduate Degree in Futures Studies, or demonstrating competence in speaking, teaching, or writing. The criteria are as follows.
- Consulting – Prospective member has consulted with a minimum of two clients in each of the last three years, or three clients within the last twelve months on engagements that employ the perspective and/or methodology of futures research. May be a sole practitioner or partner/staff in consultancy.
- Organizational Function – Prospective member is in a position that regularly employs the perspective and/or methodology of futures research.
- Post-Graduate Degree – Prospective member has earned a post-graduate degree in futures research, futures studies or a comparable field.
- Speaking – Prospective member has delivered a minimum of two speeches or presentations on the future (paid or not) in each of the last three years, or three within the last twelve months. Each was given before an external audience.
- Teaching – Prospective member currently teaches, or has taught, a course on the future or on futures theory – or methodology
- Writing – Prospective member has published a minimum of three magazine or journal articles and/or one book that is/are about the future or futures theory – or methodology.
2. FAQs on the Futures Field
What is a futurist?
What methods do futurists use?
How does one become a futurist?
Some become futurists by earning a graduate degree in futures studies, and others learn on the job and through professional development, frequently with deep knowledge in another field or discipline. There are the dozen or so degree programs worldwide, which are producing a growing percentage of practitioners. Furthermore, intensive certification programs concentrate on introductions to futures methods or particular topics.
Many professionals become futurists by acquainting themselves with futures concepts, tools and methods, familiarizing themselves with the literature, apprenticing or collaborating with professional futurists, and participating in futures professional development, conferences, and organizations.
What are some of the main organizations involved with the future?
- World Future Society (1967) -- 15,000 members who subscribe to The Futurist magazine and attend annual meetings; mostly centered in the U.S.
- World Futures Studies Federation (1971) -- a couple of hundred members spread across the globe with a rotating secretariat, and includes many academics
- Millennium Project (1998) -- volunteer group with “nodes” across the globe that produces the annual State of the Future report
- Association of Professional Futurists (2002) – a global organization of several hundred professional futurists and students in futures degree programs, emphasizing the practice of foresight and futures research.
What is the history of the field?
No thorough history of the futures fields exists. Two excellent references are Wendell Bell's two volume set The Foundation of Futures Studies: Human Science for a New Era (1997) and Richard Slaughter's CD-ROM series The Knowledge Base of Futures Studies, vols 1-4: Millennium Edition (2001). The contemporary field of futures studies emerged during the second half of the twentieth century, described in this brief overview as two parallel American and European strands.
In the US, the formal study of the future began after World War II when Herman Kahn of RAND started using scenarios to explore the consequences of nuclear war. In Europe, Bertrand de Jouvenal’s Art of Conjecture was a key development in the emergence of futures studies there. Kahn found scenarios to be a useful tool for enabling people to “Think the Unthinkable.” In France, Gaston Berger founded the Centre International de Prospective and the important journal entitled Prospective.
The 1960s saw the emergence of several consulting firms and think tanks devoted to futures studies plus the formation of the World Future Society. De Jouvenal founded the Association Internationale de Futuribles Association and the journal Futuribles in France. Kahn went on to found the Hudson Institute, and other RAND analysts, such as Olaf Helmer and Ted Gordon, went on to become futurists, and helped found the Institute for the Future with Gordon later breaking off to found The Futures Group. SRI became a focal point of futures research under the guidance of Willis Harman in the 1960s.The Institute for Alternative Futures was also founded in the late 1960s.
Royal Dutch Shell became the most recognized corporate practitioner of futures studies in the 1970s, using scenarios under the guidance of Pierre Wack, who learned/borrowed the technique from Herman Kahn. Shell later produced several leading “second generation futurists.”
Since then, futures work has spread beyond its roots in the US and Europe to become the global movement that it is today with third and fourth generation academics, researchers, and practitioners.