What good is scientific rigor when nobody gives a shit?

This note is based on a Twitter thread I wrote while attending a futures studies conference.

My eternal question to academic futures studies: What good is scientific rigor when nobody gives a shit? I’m not asking you to give it up but rather that you put as much effort into having an actual impact.

Futures play too much of a central role in society to leave the public discourse around them to the trend gurus, tech evangelists, and advertising agencies.

At the moment, there seem to be two poles in futures work: on the one end, you have the academic futures studies focused on scientific rigor. On the other end, you have the design-thinking-ish workshop-driven futuring approaches (lots of canvases). Both have little impact for opposing reasons.

I’m interested in the space in between. I want to do deep work routed in theory and proper methods, combining it with participatory and critical approaches while minding the politics from the beginning with the goal of as much impact as possible.

One exemplary expression of that: Can we teach students foresight methods and, simultaneously, prepare them for the backlash and politics they will experience once they try to apply future thinking in their future work contexts?

This text is a seedling, which means it is an unpolished thought or idea that will grow and mature over time. For this purpose, it has been planted in the garden. Let me know your questions and thoughts via email.

By Johannes Kleske

A critical futurist with a master's in futures research, partner at foresight studio Third Wave, lives in Berlin, Germany – more at linktr.ee/jkleske