Chapters and an Article

The book chapter from which I took the posting on the Futures Cone last February has now been published online by Springer International. It is available to those who have SpringerLink subscriptions (many universities do, so try logging-into your University library and looking for the SpringerLink database) via the doi: link given below. I’ll be checking whether the possibility of self-archiving exists, which means I would be able to deposit a pre-publication (note: not the final) version of the chapter at Swinburne ResearchBank for wider availability.

The full reference is:

Voros, J 2017, ‘Big History and anticipation: Using Big History as a framework for global foresight’, in R Poli (ed.) Handbook of Anticipation: Theoretical and Applied Aspects of the Use of Future in Decision Making, Springer International, Cham, Switzerland,  chap. 95, pp. 1-40. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-31737-3_95-1

I also have had published online recently a journal article in Technological Forecasting & Social Change, which combined three of my favourite topic areas:

  • scenario-based futures thinking;
  • morphological methods;
  • astrobiology & the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI).

The reference to that is (it is not yet formally published, so there is no volume/issue/page info, as yet):

Voros, J 2017, ‘On a morphology of contact scenario space’, Technological Forecasting and Social Change. Special Issue: ‘General Morphological Analysis: Modelling, Forecasting and Innovation’, T Ritchey & T Arciszewski (eds).  doi:10.1016/j.techfore.2017.05.007 arXiv:1706.08966.

This is also available, as you can see, as a pre-print at arXiv. I am especially happy with this article as it represents the sequel to an idea from a paper published 10 years ago about examining parameters that might usefully describe scenarios of ‘contact’. I hope it is not another 10 years before the next paper in this sequence… 😉

I am also awaiting the final formal publication of another book chapter, in the final volume of the Big History Anthology, which has been in production for six years now and has gone through a couple of different publishers before one kept their word to actually publish it.

The reference is (there is chapter/page info because the book is being printed now and and is due to be formally published in mid September):

Voros, J 2017, ‘Big Futures: Macrohistorical perspectives on the future of humankind’, in B Rodrigue, L Grinin & A Korotayev (eds), The way that Big History works: Cosmos, life, society and our future, From Big Bang to galactic civilizations: A Big History anthology, vol. III, Primus Books, Delhi, chap. 22, pp. 403-436. ISBN: 978-93-86552-24-2

I am particularly chuffed with this chapter as it is the last chapter in the last volume of the 3-volume Anthology series. As such, I get to, as it were, have the last word on Big History 😉  I am also exploring the possibility of self-archiving so that it might become available through an online repository at some point soon.

So, in all, a busy few months since the previous post, all while teaching out the last running of Foresight Knowledge and Methods 1, along with the second-last running of Powering 21st Century Innovation (the 2015 running of which gave rise to the name of this blog), as well as convening two other units on Purposeful Leadership (taught by my wonderful colleagues Nita Cherry, and Peter Hayward aka “Captain Foresight”). This semester, it is the second-last running of 21st Century Challenges, and another iteration of my undergrad Big History unit, which has finally hit some healthy numbers. It seems that, despite the fact that the MSF is being shut down, there might still be a future for me at Swinburne, teaching Big History, not Futures Studies. The irony… 😉

A complete listing of my publications is now being curated at ORCID – the Open Researcher and Contributor ID initiative. The URL is

See you next time there is a breath that can be drawn .. 😉


How Futurists Work/Think


Last year a colleague at the International Big History Association ( asked me how futurists work/think. This was for a book she was writing for high school students on Big History. The final chapters of these types of books tend to focus on the future, hence the request for some ideas from someone who does this for a living. I tapped out a quick, off-the-top-of-my-head answer and sent it off. In thinking about how long since I’ve posted here, I thought I’d better get back into gear, especially as there are some ideas to share coming soon… Here is the essence of what I wrote:

Most professional futurists assume that the future is not predetermined, inevitable or “fixed” in some absolute way, so that there are thought to be many alternative potential futures (plural) that might lie ahead. They study ideas about the future (often called “images”) in order to gain insights into the range of alternative futures that might be coming, including those due to natural as well as human effects, depending on the scope of the futures assessment. They also look for evidence of potential futures in the present (this is generally known as “scanning”) to see which of the many alternative futures that lie ahead might indeed be coming about.

Some futurists also focus on which futures are desirable or preferable and work to help bring these about while also trying to help avoid undesirable futures from happening. Futurists have all manner of orientations – from analysts to advisors to advocates to activists – and they choose their focus accordingly. In the same way that historians study the past in many ways and with a variety of orientations, foci of interest and time-scales, so futurists do a forward-looking future-focused analogue of history – attempting to understand the forces of continuity and change that will combine to create the future we will live through. The historian and futurist W. Warren Wagar even characterised futures inquiry as a form of applied history. In this view, the role of futurists is to help chart the course of human history as wisely as possible and advise on how to make the future we eventually live through a present and subsequent history that we will be glad to experience.

There has been an unwelcome announcement from my university in the past few months since the last posting – the Master of Strategic Foresight, into which I’ve been teaching since it began in 2001 – is to be shut down as part of a review of postgraduate programs. No new intake is planned for next year and I will be teaching it out over 2017, after which it is done. However, my Faculty are wanting to continue some form of foresight teaching, so there are discussions under way to see what this might look like and how it might work.

My fellow foresight colleague and conspirator Peter Hayward and I are planning a “wake” for the MSF for later in the year, most likely to be an “anti-debutant” ball. There is something so incredibly amusing about a retro-style, formal, doll-yourself-up in Black Tie farewell ball for a foresight course, that it is impossible to pass up this opportunity to really celebrate the course and to go out in style. 😉



Image Credit: Wadem/Flickr