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As a species, humans have a unique capacity to imagine the future, but we also struggle to act when those visions feel abstract or disconnected from our everyday lives.

The methods and practices associated with ‘Futures Studies’ were initially developed to bring possible futures to life, in order to help decision makers in the public and private sector to better anticipate challenges and opportunities. Yet all too often, foresight tools can appear mysterious, with dialogue about the future taking place in closed settings out of public view.

So, what is the value of more democratic, inclusive, conversations about the future and what kinds of tools can be used to support wider participation?

This was an accessible primer on ‘people-powered’ futures, where the Nesta Explorations team and special guests demystified some futures methods to show how they can be applied to different sectors, problems and geographies. The event was designed for those in the public and social sector with a general interest in how and when to use futures methods, and explored:

  • How design can be used to help people imagine possible futures;
  • How simulation and games can help policymakers model alternative futures;
  • How visions for the future of a local area can be co-created with the public.

We were also joined by theatre artist David Finnigan (co-creator of CrimeForce, which debuted at Nesta’s 2018 FutureFest) who performed a hands-on demo of how to make (and break) the future in under 15 minutes.