Futures Thinking

New problems require new ways of thinking.

It is now clear that the pursuit of economic growth is leading to environmental destruction with potentially devastating planetary consequences. Reforming current systems and structures is part of a larger cultural shift in what society values and prizes. It challenges us to reconsider what we think really matters.

The stories we tell ourselves about where we came from and how we relate to the rest of creation are encoded in myths and religious beliefs. They serve a fundamental human need and are a part of the process of giving meaning to our lives. We understand ourselves in relation to our surroundings, both human and non-human.

Not only do we seek to understand where we have come from, we also construct visions of the future. The idea of progress, the idea that we are part of trajectory, helps to root us in the present. As the signs of environmental strain become ever more apparent, there are good reasons to reconsider the narratives we live by. Are they still relevant or are they failing us because they no longer relevant?

At the moment there is a widespread belief that humanity is at a tipping point. Constructing a better future is a necessary if daunting task which will stretch our creative abilities to the limit. Ultimately, it is our values and ideas about the world which drive our behaviour which in turn shapes societies and their institutions.  We are all, as Arran Stibbe puts it, involved in ‘re-writing and re-speaking the world’ (2015 p193). 

Finding a new script is a tentative and delicate process but there are encouraging signs of progress. And the outcome could have far reaching implications about what we think and do. It is ideas that that have the power to change the world we live in.

1) Construct a diagram or chart based on your research into the Anthropocene. 

2) Watch this video about the ever-increasing pace of change. What do you think the world will be like ten years from now?

"Stories are the secret reservoirs of values: change the stories that nations that nations live by and you change the individuals and nations themselves."

Ben Okri, 1996

"We are between stories. The old story, the account of how we came to be and how we fit in it, is no longer effective. Yet we have not learned the new story."

Wendell Berry 1998

"We do not have a new story yet. Each of us is aware of some of its threads, for example in most of the things we call alternative, holistic or ecological today. Here and there we see patterns, designs, emerging parts of the fabric.  But the new mythos has not yet formed.  We will abide for a time in the ‘space between stories’. It is a very precious – some may say sacred – time."

Charles Eisenstein (2013)

a) What do we mean by prosperity?

b) What do you think Utopia would be like and is it really desirable?

HRH The Prince of Wales (2010) Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World, London: HarperCollins (See especially Chapter 7 Relationship)

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

Stibbe, A (2015) Ecolinguistics: Language, ecology and the stories we live by, London: Routledge (See especially Chapter 1: Introduction)

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

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Last edited: 20/11/2019 09:15:00