Making sustainable futures - An introduction to futures studies and scenario techniques
Futures studies is an interdisciplinary field of study. Central to the field is the development and critical assessment of scenarios of plausible, probable, and desirable futures. In this introductory course we will focus on futures studies addressing the broad field of sustainable development.
Plausible futures are used to make society or a sector ‘future proofed’. This is done through identifying key uncertainties and their possible consequences, and then using this to inform planning and decision-making processes. Desirable futures develop visions of sustainable -futures for a specific community, city or sector. Working with desirable futures also includes identifying the incremental steps needed to achieve this vision, so called backcasting.
Throughout the course we will connect the futures studies methods to different sustainability challenges. We will use both established frameworks such as the planetary boundaries or the sustainable development goals (SDG:s), and open up for discussions on the normative and contested character of sustainability.
Information from the course leader
Due to the pandemic, the course will be held entirely online this semester (autumn 2021).
The course evaluation is not yet activatedThe course evaluation is open between 2021-10-25 and 2021-11-15
Additional course evaluations for MX0150
Academic year 2021/2022Making sustainable futures - An introduction to futures studies and scenario techniques (MX0150-M1331) 2021-08-30 - 2021-11-01
Academic year 2020/2021Making sustainable futures - An introduction to futures studies and scenario techniques (MX0150-10302) 2020-08-31 - 2020-11-01
MX0150 Making sustainable futures - An introduction to futures studies and scenario techniques, 7.5 CreditsAtt skapa hållbara framtider - en introduktion till framtidsstudier och scenariometoder
Education cycleMaster’s level
|Seminar & PM||2.00||1002|
Advanced study in the main fieldSecond cycle, only first-cycle courses as entry requirements(A1N)
Prior knowledgeKnowledge equivalent to 120 credits, basic level, and English 6 (Swedish educational system).
ObjectivesFutures studies is an interdisciplinary field of study which include studies of probable, possible and preferable futures. Futures studies for sustainable development focuses on developing, exploring and evaluating scenarios in which one or more sustainability challenges stand in focus, and to, based on this, formulate policy recommendations or other knowledge of societal relevance.
The course serves two main aims: 1) To introduce students to futures studies, with emphasis on theoretical points of departure and methods to develop, explore and evaluate scenarios; 2) to provide students with a possibility to apply this knowledge and skills in practice, in an interdisciplinary project work, and to learn from this in a structured way.
After finalizing the course, the student will be able to:
- Describe basic theoretical and methodological concepts from the field of futures studies, and apply a relevant selection of these in a sustainability-driven project work;
- Design and delimit a project work, establish a work and time plan for this, and continuously report on progress in a structured manner;
- Reflect on how the choice of theoretical concepts, scenario technique and project design impacted the project results;
- Reflect on possibilities and challenges with working in inter- and transdisciplinary project teams.
- Reflect on possible relevant applications of futures studies in relation to sustainability challenges.
ContentThe course comprises three parts. The first part of the course consists of lectures, literature studies and literature seminars. These aim to introduce futures studies as a field of research and practice, and its basic theories, methods and concepts. Shorter preparatory assignments are to be handed in before lectures and literature seminars, this to support active learning.
The second part of the course is a project work. Here focus is on applying futures studies theory and scenario methods. Depending on the aim and objectives of the project work also other theories and methods might become relevant. The aim and objectives of the project work is open for definition by the students themselves together with their supervisor – and within the frames provided by the intended learning outcomes. The project work takes place in interdisciplinary groups of 3-5 students. The project work also entails project planning and reporting, and to constructively discuss the work of other project groups.
The third part of the course is an individual essay. In the essay the student is asked to critically reflect on their own project work, as well as the work of other project groups. The student is also asked to formulate an independent idea on how futures studies could be used to deal with one or more sustainability challenges.
The subject content of the course focuses on futures studies as theory, practice, methods and concepts. The first part of the course includes:
- Futures studies today and historically;
- Basic points of departure for futures studies, focusing on uncertainty, risk and possibility space;
- The difference between different types of futures studies, focusing on probable, possible and preferable futures, and their areas of application;
- An overview of different scenario methods, and their respective strengths and weaknesses;
- Concrete examples of how futures studies are used in research and practice, by public and private actors alike.
In the second part of the course the knowledge on futures studies is deepened through a project work. The students are here provided with an opportunity to, in dialogue with their supervisor, decide by themselves what specific area or type of futures studies they want to develop.
The project work also provides training in designing, delimiting, performing and communicating a project. Moreover, the project work provides the student with training in how to constructively critique the work of others and to critically reflect on their own work. The course also provides experience in working in interdisciplinary groups.
Formats and requirements for examinationThe first part of the course is examined through written assignments and active participation at literature seminars. The second part of the course is examined through active participation at seminars, supervision and presentations in relation to the project work, and through the project report. The third part of the course is examined through the individual essay.
Seminars, supervision and presentations are mandatory to attend. To pass the course it is also the following are required: approved written assignments, and active participation in the project work and in mandatory activities.
- If the student fails a test, the examiner may give the student a supplementary assignment, provided this is possible and there is reason to do so.
- If the student has been granted special educational support because of a disability, the examiner has the right to offer the student an adapted test, or provide an alternative assessment.
- If changes are made to this course syllabus, or if the course is closed, SLU shall decide on transitional rules for examination of students admitted under this syllabus but who have not yet passed the course.
- For the examination of a degree project (independent project), the examiner may also allow the student to add supplemental information after the deadline. For more information on this, please refer to the regulations for education at Bachelor's and Master's level.
- The right to take part in teaching and/or supervision only applies to the course date to which the student has been admitted and registered on.
- If there are special reasons, the student may take part in course components that require compulsory attendance at a later date. For more information on this, please refer to the regulations for education at Bachelor's and Master's level.