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History of Futures Video
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Above - original program faculty left to right: Dr. Christopher Dede, Dr. Jib Fowles, Dr. Jim Bowman

The longest-running foresight program in the world

The graduate program in Studies of the Future was established in 1974 by Dean of Human Sciences and Humanities, Calvin Cannon, and Chancellor of UH-Clear Lake, Alfred Neumann. The mid-1970s was an exciting time for futures studies in the U.S. with the founding of the World Future Society and the publication of futures best-sellers, such as Future Shock and The Limits to Growth. Dr. Cannon thought that futures should be a regular part of the curriculum, as a complement to the study of history.

The University hired two faculty members to initially staff the program—Dr. Jib Fowles, the first chair of the program, and Dr. Chris Dede. Faculty from other programs in the university also taught courses in the futures program – notably, Jim Bowman and Fred Kierstead from education and Jim Coomer from public administration.

The program in the early years was more a humanities program, in which the big issues of the day were studied and debated, rather than a professional program for careers in futures studies. It became obvious early on, however, that a purely academic program was not going to be sustainable as enrollments began to dip at the end of the decade. As a result, the faculty recruited Dr. Oliver Markley from the Stanford Research Institute. His task, which he admirably accomplished, was to create a more professionally program that would still retain the diversity and interest of the original program.

Early in the 1980s, Dr. Peter Bishop also joined the faculty. Bishop had come to UH-Clear Lake in 1976 to teach research methods and statistics in Behavioral Sciences, but developed a keen interest in futures studies. Early in the 1990s, the faculty, some alumni and students also created the Institute for Futures Research (IFR), an umbrella organization that allowed faculty, alumni and students to work on futures projects together, for instance completing a project in 1991 on the future of world issues for the Vice-Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Staff changes in the 1990s allowed Dr. Wendy Schultz to join the faculty for four years. Markley retired in the late 1990s, and Schultz returned to her home in Oxford, England around that time. Dr. Christopher Jones joined the faculty for three years. During his first year, Jones was elected as Secretary-General of the World Futures Studies Federation making UH-Clear Lake the WFSF headquarters for the two years.

During that time Bishop and Jones began offering futures courses online--today, of course, the entire program can be done online. The program hosted an alumni retreat in May 2001 to celebrate its 25th anniversary and to involve alumni preparing the program for the next 25 years. Jennifer Jarratt conducted an open space discussion about program issues over a two-day period. One of the discussions was instrumental in helping to form the Association of Professional Futurists.

The program moved to the UH main campus in 2007 under the direction of Dean William Fitzgibbon of the College of Technology at the University of Houston and Dr. Shirley Ezell from the Department of Human Development and Consumer Science. In preparation for full-scale operations, the Department hired Andy Hines, a program graduate with futures experience at Coates & Jarratt, the Kellogg Company, and Dow Chemical in January 2005. Bishop and Hines began admitting students and teaching courses at UH in Fall 2005, and the program has been going strong ever since. In 2012, the program updated its name from "Futures Studies" to "Foresight."