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There are many different ways to describe the future. The following is a short typography of futures. 

Alternative Futures

This typology, often used in scenario planning, outlines a range of fundamentally different futures that could emerge based on various critical uncertainties. Alternative futures might include:

  • Growth Futures: Scenarios where trends continue towards expansion and progress.

  • Constraint Futures: Scenarios shaped by limitations, such as resource scarcity or environmental degradation.

  • Transformation Futures: Scenarios where significant societal, technological, or environmental changes occur, leading to a fundamentally different world.

  • Collapse Futures: Scenarios where systems fail, leading to breakdowns in societal, economic, or ecological order.

  • Disruptive Future: Futures that emerge from the development of new technologies, unexpected societal shifts, or sudden changes in the global environment that disrupt current trends and trajectories. These futures emphasize the impact of innovation and the potential for rapid change in industries, social systems, and global dynamics.

Decolonised Futures

Decolonised futures is a concept that seeks to unravel the ongoing effects of colonialism and envisions alternative futures that are just, equitable, and respectful of diverse knowledge systems and cultural values. It goes beyond simply ending formal colonial rule and focuses on dismantling the structures, ideologies, and power dynamics that perpetuate colonial legacies. Core principles include: 

  • Centering marginalised perspectives: This involves prioritizing the voices and lived experiences of those who have been historically marginalized and exploited by colonialism, recognizing the validity of their knowledge systems and ways of being.

  • Challenging dominant narratives and mindsets: Critically questioning the historical narratives and power structures imposed by colonizers, acknowledging the harm and inequalities they continue to create.

  • Recovering and revitalizing indigenous knowledge: Recognizing the value of traditional knowledge systems and cultural practices of colonised peoples, viewing them as valuable resources for shaping alternative futures.

  • Promoting self-determination and agency: Empowering marginalized communities to determine their own future paths, breaking free from imposed structures and fostering self-sufficiency.

  • Building solidarity and global partnerships: Recognizing the interconnectedness of struggles against colonialism and fostering alliances between marginalized groups across different regions.


Democratised Futures

Democratised futures is a concept that focuses on expanding participation and power-sharing in shaping how our societies develop. Here's a breakdown of its key aspects:


  • Inclusion: Ensuring that all individuals and communities, especially those traditionally marginalised or excluded, have a voice in the decision-making processes that affect their lives.

  • Equity: Promoting fairness and justice in the distribution of resources and opportunities, addressing systemic inequalities, and providing support needed to enable meaningful participation for all.

  • Collaboration: Encouraging collaboration and partnerships between various actors in society – individuals, communities, governments, businesses, and civil society – to address complex challenges.

  • Transparency and Accountability: Creating systems where those in power are held accountable to the public, ensuring transparency in decision-making processes and access to information.

Participatory Futures

Similar to Democratised Futures, Participatory Futures refers to a set of approaches that involve collective thinking, strategic planning,  and action to imagine, explore, and design possible futures that align with shared values and goals. It aims to democratize the process of shaping our future by moving beyond solely relying on experts, policymakers, or a select few, and instead engaging a diverse range of voices in the discussion.

Possible, Probable, and Preferable Futures

  • Possible Futures: These are futures that could happen, based on the limits of what we know is possible with current or foreseeable technology, societal structures, and environmental conditions. Exploring possible futures allows for a broad consideration of what might occur, without necessarily assessing the likelihood.

  • Probable Futures: These are futures that are likely to happen, given current trends, data, and trajectories. Probable futures focus on extrapolating from existing patterns to forecast what is most likely to occur.

  • Preferable Futures: These are the futures that individuals, organizations, or societies desire to create. Preferable futures are shaped by values, goals, and aspirations, and they guide strategic actions aimed at achieving a specific vision of the future.

Trauma-Informed Futures

Trauma-informed futures broadly refers to an approach that considers the impact of collective and individual trauma on our present and future societies. It aims to shape a future that prevents, mitigates, and heals from the wounds of past and ongoing traumas, promoting individual and collective well-being. Core components of this emerging concept include:

  • Understanding the impact of trauma: Recognising the widespread prevalence of trauma, both individual and collective, within diverse communities, across generations, and throughout history.

  • Building resilience and healing: Promoting approaches that strengthen individual and community resilience to trauma, while also facilitating healing processes for those who have already experienced trauma.

  • Preventing future trauma: Implementing systemic and societal changes to address the root causes of trauma and prevent future generations from experiencing similar hardships.

  • Centering the voices of trauma survivors: Valuing the experiences and perspectives of individuals and communities who have experienced trauma, ensuring their voices are heard and informing future decisions.

Wild Card Futures

These are low-probability, high-impact events that, should they occur, would have significant consequences for society and organizations. Wild cards are unpredictable but can dramatically change the course of future developments. Planning for wild card events involves preparing for scenarios that are outside of the normal expectations but could rapidly alter the strategic landscape.

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