Houston Futures
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5 levels

Course sequence

Preparing professional futurists for the marketplace

The curriculum is designed with the following attributes:

  • Comprehensive – covering the full range of theories and methods that futurists in the world today.
  • Practical – focusing on developing the skills that futurists use; knowledge is essential, but the use of that knowledge is always the focus.
  • Product-oriented – demonstrating those skills by producing portfolios of professional products (forecast, plans, etc.) in every course.
  • Interactive – engaging in mutual learning among teachers and all students.
  • Networked – linking topics and students with the institutions and the professionals that are practicing foresight today.

It is also designed to achieve these Learning Objectives.

Here are some course sequence options to graduation for full- and part-time study.

The curriculum has a six-level structure.

Level 1 – Overview

Introduction to Foresight – a survey of the foresight field, including its theories, methods, history, and current structure. Syllabus; Schedule

Level 2 – Theory

Social Change – a critical review of classical and contemporary theories of social change, emphasizing the assumptions and applications of each. Syllabus

Systems Thinking – a review of the classical cybernetic systems view and the emerging complex adaptive view in order to see trends and events in the world as the product of a pre-existing system structure.Past Syllabus;Past Schedule

Alternative Perspectives - a review of “different” perspectives, concepts, and methods for approaching the future and a critical review of assumptions and archetypes hidden from routine analysis. Syllabus; Schedule

Level 3 – Methods

Futures Research – introduction to and practice in the tools and techniques used in forecasting (including secondary research, interviews and questionnaire and trend extrapolation), for identifying the most likely and expected future as well as alternative futures (aka Scenarios). Syllabus; Schedule

Advanced Strategies – introduction to and practice in the tools and techniques for organizing people and resources to create transformational change and the techniques for creating such change. Past Syllabus

Statistics – a review of the essential mathematical tools used by long-term forecasters and planners in business and government.Past Syllabus

Level 4 – Content & Electives

World Futures – a review of the major trends and issues in the world today that are shaping the future of tomorrow. Syllabus; Schedule

Electives FORE 6397 – Each summer, we offer different special courses on interesting topical futures topics that interest our student. Please peruse our potential classes to see which one you might be interested in.

FORE 6397 - Technology Acceleration

FORE 6397 - Design Futures

FORE 6397- Biotechnology

FORE 6397- Climate Change

TECH 4310 - Energy & The Environment (undergrad)

FORE 6397- Technology Forecasting

FORE 6397- Women as Builders of the Future

Domain – Each student selects a futures domain for in-depth work, such as a technology, an industry or a social issue. The student takes three courses in the future that domain in order to become more knowledgeable and experienced in that topic. Domain courses offered by the department have been the future of space exploration, the future of biotechnology, the future of the United States, the future of women, and technology forecasting.

Here are some elective design courses suggested by our friends in industrial design at UH (note: these must be taken face-to-face.)

And some recommended electives for non-majors who wish to try some foresight courses.

Level 5 – Capstone

Proseminar in Foresight – a final review of the foresight field, practice in professional skills (such as writing, presentation, consulting and training), and preparation for professional practice. Syllabus; Schedule

Level 6 – Master’s Option

Choose one of the following:

Thesis – academic research based on empirical evidence that makes a contribution to foresight theory or methodology, resulting in a thesis and a optional publishable article.

Project – professional foresight research (forecast, plan, etc.) for a designated client demonstrating a range of professional skills and techniques.

Internship – work with a professional futurist on a broad range of projects over ten or more weeks (around 150 clock hours), resulting in a report of activities and learning.

Courses may be taken in any order, except that the Introduction to Foresight should be taken as early as possible and the Proseminar in Foresight should be taken toward the end of the program. In addition, students are expected to identify two electives outside the futures studies program, also taken late in the program and generally in a domain of the student’s interest and foresight practice, such as business, education, government, etc.