Futures Thinking

Visions for the future inform how we live in the present.

People have always been fearful for the future just as they have also always had visions for a better world. People simply do not want to get involved.  

Negative scenarios are particularly corrosive as they tap into modes of thinking in which guilt, blame and denial blend together in a toxic cocktail. However, the opposite response 'bland optimism' is almost equally unhelpful as it suggests that it is feasible to continue with business as usual.

In the past few decades there have been many calls for new thinking and a paradigm shift in educational practice. Such calls are easy to make but difficult to implement. Institutions such as universities have been particularly slow to make changes, partly due to organisatonal inertia. Yet the need is urgent.

Students who are at university today are the leaders of tomorrow. Ensuring that graduates are sustainability literate is increasingly recognised as a priority, not least by students themselves. Learning about sustainability implies a commitment to a certain set of values and a belief that what we do really matters.

The alignment between our values and the way we actually live our lives often leads us to contradictory spaces. This makes for an uneasy but exciting educational terrain.

1) Watch these two videos. Do you think the ideas they suggest are realistic? In what way are they visionary?


Interview with James Lovelock - BBC website »

2) What do these imaginary newspapers from the future indicate about the choices and decisions we are making today?

www.neweconomics.org »

"The idea developed through a series of little conversations which build up over a period of about six months. I could have done it much quicker but I had a driving vision of non-hierarchical, interdisciplinary and participatory event. It was a really big thing for me."
Tutor in Childhood Studies talking about planning a conference

"I’ve picked up a great sense of urgency to achieve something."
President, Students' Union

"We need to have an unselfish mindset."
Tutor in Language Studies

a) Do you agree that there is an urgency underpinning the sustainability agenda?

b) Why do you think having a vision matters? Can visions sometimes do more harm than good?

c) What are the things which (a) excite you and (b) you find challenging about the sustainability agenda?

d) Do you really believe you can make a difference either on your own or by working collaboratively with others?

HRH The Prince of Wales (2010) Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World, London: HarperCollins

Jones, P., Selby, D., and Sterling, S. (2010) (Eds) Sustainability Education: Perspectives and practice across higher education, London: Earthscan

Porritt, J. (2013) The World We Made, London:Phaidon

Stirling, S. (2012) The Future Fit Framework, London: Higher Education Academy

Visit the Dark Mountain project at http://dark-mountain.net/ to access the Dark Mountain Manifesto

Next Steps »

Find out more

Find out more about sustainability in practice at Canterbury Christ Church

Contact us

To hear how our students are engaging with sustainability at Canterbury Christ Church, find us on facebook and wordpress.

Facebook logoBlogsTwitter logo



Connect with us

Last edited: 05/12/2017 00:16:00