News from the Future


curated by Institute for the Future

March 4, 2021 — Issue #53
View online or

Like News from the Future? 
Share this link to our subscription page.

It's March. Why aren't we feeling better?

Vaccinations have begun—slowly, and not without hiccups. In the U.S., millions of Texans were without power last month, the result of a grid unequipped to deal with the growing climate crisis. In Myanmar and elsewhere, the political situation is unstable. People in general are on-edge, bored, and stir-crazy after a year of lockdown.

Still, it’s important to remember some positive developments. Progress is being made every day in the global mission to defeat COVID-19. A majority of people around the world are in agreement that addressing climate change is a top priority. And the world is readier than ever to advance racial equity.  

Other signs of a thaw are in the air, making this a time for planning, shaping, and aligning ourselves (and our organizations) with the future we want.

Signals from the Future


📓  Combat the  climate crisis by teaching  girls

To spark climate action, a coalition of scientists, business leaders, and policymakers has found that “educating girls” is more effective than rooftop solar panels, EVs, and many other green-tech solutions. 


🚬  The end of cigarettes?

Buoyed by markets for smoke-free products and vaping, tobacco giant Philip Morris believes that cigarette sales could end in 10 to 15 years. So much for the logo-free box!


😷  Turning face masks into…roads

No, it’s not an artifact from the future. Researchers at Melbourne’s RMIT University have developed a material that shreds single-use masks—we use 6.8 billion of them a day—into recycled concrete aggregate for use in paving.


👩🏾‍🌾  Commune boom!

Driven by the Extinction Rebellion movement and a desire for UBA and low-carbon living, the UK’s intentional communities are reporting a flood of new applicants of all ages.


🏠  World’s first 3D-printed house

With robotically constructed  foundation, walls, and utility conduits, this 1,407-square-foot Riverhead, New York house cost half as much to build as a normal one. The future of making has come to the ’burbs.

Future Factors is IFTF Vantage’s proprietary, easy-to-use platform for sharing and synthesizing signals from today that are likely to affect the transformation of tomorrow.


A New Social Compact for Work & Workers in California

Working in partnership with IFTF, the California Future of Work Commission offers five recommendations for “future-proofing” California’s workforce against climate change, rising inequality, rapid technological shifts, and other growing threats.

"A New Social Compact for Work & Workers in California" reflects the culmination of a public series facilitated and researched by IFTF for the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency. Its findings build on IFTF’s 50+ years of experience in futures work and long-time focus on changes in the nature of work—as well as their implications for wealth and racial inequality. It culminates in five key recommendations for a new social compact for California's workers. 

Read the report and learn about the five recommendations. >>


Why climate-positive organizations will thrive in the coming decade

During our two-day "Building Climate-Positive Organizations" online convening on Feb 10-11, we heard from experts on a variety of issues surrounding climate change. On the second day, IFTF's Georgia Gillan interviewed Kevin Bayuk, a partner at LIFT Economy and a senior financial fellow at Project Drawdown in a session titled "Climate Positive Finance: The Economy of Ecology," which took a deep dive into the economic models that could incentivize businesses to reduce their impacts and contributions to climate change.

IFTF Vantage partners can review the session and watch a video of the interview on Vantage Point
“Resilience, returns, and risk are informing actions taken by organizations. With feasible scaling and adoption of existing practices, we can globally match the Paris Climate Accord goals for carbon drawdown. Organizations are finding returns on investment in resilience that are eclipsing their hurdle rate. So what’s the barrier?” —Kevin Bayuk

Research from the session will inform IFTF's 2021 Map of the Decade, released for IFTF Vantage partners on May 18.

To find out how you can get in on this ten-year horizon scan—and what it means to create a climate-positive organization—contact IFTF 's John Clamme.


Looking for foresight training?
You’ve come to the right place.

IFTF Scenario Building (SOLD OUT!)

Stay tuned for the dates of the next session! With this training, dive deep into the alternative-futures scenario method with IFTF senior researchers while learning to build inspiring and actionable scenarios.  


IFTF Foresight Essentials

Happening April 7–May 7, May 25–June 17, and more: start or enhance your professional foresight practice with our comprehensive set of foresight fundamentals. In IFTF's flagship course, built on 50+ years of best practices, you'll learn to identify and analyze basic futures evidence, craft plausible and provocative forecasts, design applied futures projects that lead to actionable insights...and more!

  • Five half-day sessions + one 90-minute orientation
  • Live-online
  • $6,500 standard / $4,500 nonprofits, governments, and educational institutions (discounts for early-birds and IFTF Vantage partners)
Register today >> 

IFTF Design Futures

Design and communicate foresight for impact. Unfolding May 11–25, this course combines design-thinking and futures-thinking methods with a focus on creating experiences to expand your imagination, craft new prototypes, and draft new policies to shape the coming decade.

  • Three six-hour sessions + one 90-minute orientation
  • Live-online
  • $3,500 / $3,000 nonprofits, governments, and educational institutions
  • Discounts available: IFTF Foresight Essentials alumni, IFTF Vantage partners
Register today >>

IFTF Futures Thinking on Coursera

Ready yourself for a changing world in this self-paced, self-guided online journey into basic mindsets, concepts, and frameworks of futures thinking for personal or professional development. 

  • Self-paced, pre-recorded sessions 
  • Five courses with online instruction
  • $49 per month / free to audit
Register today >> 

Seats are limited, and early registration is recommended.
Come learn with us!


How to decolonize the future

On Tuesday, March 16 at 9:00 AM PDT / 16:00 UTC, IFTF will host Dr. Geci Karuri-Sebina, a founding director of the Southern Africa Node of the Millennium Project. Dr. Karuri-Sebina will talk about her personal journey in futures thinking, including her push to build futures literacy and decolonize futures, starting in Africa. 

This talk will explore critical issues, insights, and experiences that will enrich your foresight practice and capacities.

Register here >>

Transition Design: An Approach to Co-Creating Preferred Futures Pathways


On Thursday, April 15 at 8:00 AM PDT / 15:00 UTC, IFTF hosts Terry Irwin and Gideon Kossoff of the Transition Design Institute at Carnegie-Mellon University. They will discuss the emerging practice of Transition Design, which draws on approaches from the social sciences to understand the social roots of wicked problems, placing stakeholder concerns and co-design/collaboration at the heart of the problem-solving process. The Foresight Talk will introduce this approach and ideally initiate a deeper conversation and collaboration in designing transition pathways towards preferred futures.

Register here >>


This is how you get future-ready

We'd like to help your company navigate the future and learn to recognize game-changing threats and opportunities before they unfold.

Join us for a free 30-minute demo and Q&A March 10 at 9:00 AM PST / 17:00 UTC to learn about IFTF Vantage, our partnership program.

IFTF Vantage uses powerful tools and expert strategic foresight research to help companies envision the future they want. In this overview session, you’ll also learn about two new online tools exclusive to IFTF Vantage partners:
  • Future Factors, a collaborative emerging signals platform
  • Vantage Point, a cutting-edge strategic foresight research and networking hub

2021 is the year to do things differently. Don’t miss this valuable free session!

Register today >> 

IFTF in the News


“A ‘new social compact’: California commission calls for higher wages, better jobs.” Margot Roosevelt describes the CA Future of Work Commission’s final report to Gov. Newsom. (3/2/21) LA Times.

“The More Equitable Future Begins in the Imagination.” Marina Gorbis writes an essay for Walker Art Museum Magazine. (3/1/21)

“The Smithsonian is turning 175. It’s celebrating with robots, flying cars and hope." IFTF is advising on the forthcoming Futures exhibition at the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industry Building, by Peggy McGlone. (2/22/21) The Washington Post.

“Enough: How Practices, Paradox And Permaculture Can Create A Future Of Work That Works.” Ginny Whitelaw mentions IFTF’s Post-Pandemic Scenarios. (2/9/21) Forbes.

"Chinese Spam Network Aims to Discredit U.S. COVID Vaccine and Response, Report Finds." Dan Glaun quotes Nick Monaco and IFTF's "Detecting Digital Fingerprints: Tracing Chinese Disinformation in Taiwan." (2/4/21) Frontline.


About Institute for the Future

Institute for the Future is the world’s leading futures organization. For over 50 years, businesses, governments, and social impact organizations have depended upon IFTF global forecasts, custom research, and foresight training to navigate complex change and develop world-ready strategies. IFTF methodologies and toolsets yield coherent views of transformative possibilities across all sectors that together support a more sustainable future. Institute for the Future is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Palo Alto, California.

Institute for the Future
201 Hamilton Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94301

Add us to your address book

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences here.