Futurist Thinking and Planning

This module provides futurist thinking or strategic foresight and planning which has been used across industries and utilized by government agencies such as the DOD and FEMA, which regularly produce futures reports.

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Resource List

These resources provide a list of key readings to understand the techniques and processes, notable works in futurist thinking, current trends, and emerging ideas of the future, but as the strategic environment continues to evolve, new data will become available.


  • Stratfor is a strategic forecasting organization that focuses primarily on geopolitical events and trends. They provide consultation and advisory services to clients in a wide range of industries from business to government.
    • Citation: Main Splash Page: https://www.stratfor.com and provides articles on emerging trends and themes around the world.
    • Threat Lens is one of their proprietary products that offers data, content, a library of research, and access to security experts on specific topics of threat. More info at: https://www.stratfor.com/products/threatlens
  • Gizmodo is a design, technology, science, and science fiction website that writes about current trends in those fields, and occasionally writes about political issues concerning technology.
  • io9 is the specific blog on Gizmodo that concerns itself with the future and futurism.
    • Citation: Main Splash Page: http://www.io9.gizmodo.com A few notable posts to a survey of current futurist issues:
      • 20 Crucial Terms Every 21st Century Futurist Should Know: this post covers the emerging trends and the terms that describe them from “multiplex parenting,” the process of genetically editing defects out of babies, to “evolvability risk” – the ability of a species to produce variants more apt or powerful than those currently existing within a species.
      • The Most Significant Futurists of the Past 50 Years: this post covers the ideas of the most influential futurists and their impact on the present, from transhumanism to cyberfeminism.
  • FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) has a mission to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards.1 The agency has robust strategic foresight resources ranging from research, reports, tools, and exercises, which can be found at: https://www.fema.gov/strategic-foresight-fema

Futurist Organizations:

  • Association of Professional Futurists: The Association of Professional Futurists is a growing community of futurists, dedicated to promoting professional excellence and demonstrating the value of strategic foresight and futures studies for their clients and/ or employers. Futurists work in global corporations, small businesses, consultancies, education, non-profits, and government. Founded in 2002, the APF now includes more than 400 members from thirty-three countries.
  • World Future Society known for the Futurist magazine and World Futures conference, the World Future Society (WFS) is a non-profit organization based in Chicago that convenes professionals and non-professionals around future ideas. Founded in 1966, the organization is driven by three critical objectives:
    1. Uniting people passionate about building their desired futures through an ecosystem of members, chapters and partners.
    2. Advocating to bring to public awareness the world’s major challenges.
    3. Building global labs where futurists of all types are able to produce solutions, that are not solely reactive to the present, but to architect new systems that make the broken ones obsolete.
  • The Millennium Project was founded in 1996 after a three-year feasibility study with the United Nations University, Smithsonian Institution, Futures Group International, and the American Council for the UNU. It is now an independent non-profit global participatory futures research think tank of futurists, scholars, business planners, and policy makers who work for international organizations, governments, corporations, NGOs, and universities. The Millennium Project collects and assesses judgments from over 2,500 people selected by its 40 Nodes around the world. The work is distilled in its annual “State of the Future”, “Futures Research Methodology” series, and special studies.
  • RAND Corporation is a research organization that develops solutions to public policy challenges through research and analysis. While not a futurist organization per se, RAND provides research, particularly in US government and defense, that is typically used for strategic forecasting or futurist planning.



  • Michael Marien is a notable futurist who founded and edited Future Survey, a 24-page monthly guide to futures-relevant books, reports, and articles, published by the World Future Society (Bethesda MD) in the 1979-2008 period. During its successful 30-year run, more than 21,000 abstracts were published in FS.
  • Why the Future doesn’t need us is a seminal article published in Wired Magazine in its April 2000 issue by Bill Joy, then co-founder of Sun Microsystems, who, as quoted in his subtitle, argues, “Our most powerful 21st-century technologies — robotics, genetic engineering, and nanotech — are threatening to make humans an endangered species,” due to the speed at which artificial intelligence is developing and the ability of technology to self-replicate. The article explores the ramifications of technology for the future and how to plan for it.
  • The World In 2033: Big Thinkers Share Their Thoughts is a compilation of interviews of leading thinkers and leaders and what they see in the future of technology, global conflict, education, space travel, climate, and more.


  • 2015-16 State of the Future Report is a comprehensive overview of the present situation and prospects for humanity, integrating forecasts, trends, and judgments of thought leaders and scholars from around the world sharing important future possibilities to improve strategies today.
  • Targeting U.S. Technologies: A Trend Analysis of Cleared Industry Reports.
  • Statement for the Record, Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Daniel R. Coats, Director of National Intelligence, May 11, 2017. The Director of National Intelligence provides a worldwide assessments of threats ranging from cyber security and disruptive technologies to regional threats around the world.
    • Citation: Coates, Daniel. R. “Statement for the Record, Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.” United States. Office of the Director of National Intelligence. May 11, 2017. Web. Retrieved from: https://www.hsdl.org/?view&did=801029


  • Global Foresight Books is an electronic database created by futurist Michael Marien, who writes reviews on every book in the database. His reviews are well regarded. Marien founded the Future Survey, a 24 page monthly guide to all futures-related literature for almost 30 years from 1979-2008.
  • Foundations of Futures Studies I & II are foundational textbooks for futures studies, written by Wendell Bell, a professor emeritus of sociology at Yale University and a highly regarded futurist – he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by The World Futures Studies Federation in 2005.
    • Citation: Bell, Wendell. Foundations of Futures Studies: History, Purposes, and Knowledge (Human Science for a New Era). New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1997.
    • Citation: Bell, Wendell. Foundations of Futures Studies II: Values, Objectivity and Good Society. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1997.
  • Future Shock was written in 1970 by Alvin Toffler, a well-known futurist who first coined the term “information overload.” Future Shock examined the implications of rapidly accelerating pace of change in society and questioned whether human beings would be able to adapt to that pace of change. He warned that people might be “doomed to a massive adaptational breakdown.”
  • A Futurist’s Guide to Emergency Management is a guide written by Adam Crowe, a certified emergency manager and is a nationally recognized leader in social media and emergency management. He particularly engages in emerging cultural, technological, and political issues that impact emergency management. The book is divided into three sections: trends in citizen behaviors; impacts of age, gender and sexuality roles in emergency response as well as changing perceptions of risk; and finally emerging social, environmental, technological issues.

Other Links and Resources

These materials were developed as an initiative of the Advanced Thinking in Homeland Security (HSx) curriculum at the Center for Homeland Defense and Security.

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