PB3 The Future, Peter Bishop

University of Houston, Certificate in Strategic Foresight
The future
P Bishop, Jan 2011

The last unit was about change—how it occurs through the actions of the world and through our own actions. The next two units are about the future, a specific portion of the timeline from the past through the present, and how we are to deal with it.

We deal with the future by doing two things, given the two sources of change discussed in the previous unit – changes coming from the world (inbound) and changes we create ourselves (outbound). The questions then are: “What can we know about the future?” and “What can we do about it?”

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PB4 Anticipation, Peter Bishop

University of Houston, Certificate in Strategic Foresight
Anticipating the future
P Bishop, Jan 2011

The future develops out of the combined influences of the world and of ourselves. Futurists deal with each of these sources of change in the two branches of their field — describing what might happen in the future (inbound change) and then influencing those outcomes toward more preferred futures (outbound change).

This first unit, describing the future, is entitled Anticipating the Future. Anticipation is a better word than describing or even forecasting because it’s active. It carries the connotation of expectation, of leaning forward, of waiting for something. It’s how a tennis player waits for the serve; how a child feels on Christmas morning; what a mother does in the last month of her pregnancy. Waiting (and wanting) for the future to come, oh so quickly.

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PB5 Social Change, Peter Bishop

University of Houston, Teaching about the Future
Social Change
P Bishop, 9/1/09

Social change is fact of our time, perhaps even a fact of all times. There are those who believe that change is the fundamental reality. Heraclitus, an ancient Greek philosopher, famously said, “You cannot step into the same river twice.” The river is different, and you are different, moment to moment. So everything in the world is in continuous motion, no doubt.

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PB6 Forecasting, Peter Bishop

University of Houston, Teaching about the Future
P Bishop, 2/16/10

The desire to know the future is as ancient as humans themselves. It is our unique ability to conceive of states that are not present to us at the moment that got people thinking about the future (and about the past). And just as history was based on myth and legend before the first historians (Herodotus and Thucydides) decided to write down exactly what happened, so trying to know the future (forecasting) was based on set of beliefs and superstitions that were of little use, except perhaps to make people feel better. Some wonder whether we are much better today with our fast computers and Internet resources!

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PB7 Horizon Scanning, Peter Bishop

University of Houston, Horizon Scanning Why is it so hard?

Dr. Peter Bishop
University of Houston

September 2009

Surprise is an odd emotion. We like to be surprised–an unexpected visit from a friend, a gift from our spouse, a beautiful spring day. Sometimes we even pay to be surprised–at the fair or the cinema. But surprise is not a good thing at work. Being surprised means that we expected something to happen that didn’t or something to not happen that did. It’s just not right even when the surprise is a good thing,. We are supposed to know what is going on and what is about to happen all time–to know and be prepared for everything that occurs. We are never supposed to be surprised.

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PB8 Framework Forecasting, Peter Bishop

University of Houston, Framework Forecasting
Managing Uncertainty and Influencing the Future

Second Prague Workshop On Futures Studies Methodology
Charles University, Czech Republic
October 2005

The methods of futures studies deal with change in all its variety, and for two purposes: to understand change and to influence it. Understanding change means describing expected and other plausible future states, for which we need to prepare. Influencing change means to bring about the best possible future for ourselves and others given the time and resources we have available. People who understand the dynamics of change and the changes that are going on around them are not often surprised. People who then influence those dynamics toward their vision of a better future will have a greater change of getting that better future.

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PB9 Critical Thinking, Peter Bishop

University of Houston, Critical Thinking
Introduction, FAQ
P Bishop, 03/31/16

1. What is critical thinking?

Critical thinking is a process of discovering and testing the support for conclusions . More specifically, it is the answer to the question, “How can this conclusion be wrong?” Just as we test machines by putting them under stress, so we investigate a conclusion’s support to find out all the ways that the conclusion might be wrong.

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