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open futures  strategic foresight tailored to your needs

Futures Literacy Lab

An interactive futures method developed by UNESCO to enhance our capacity to think about the future, i.e. futures literacy.

5 hours (short version) to 2 days 8 to 50 people

in person or online


What is it?

The Futures Literacy Lab is the UNESCO method conceived by its former, freshly retired director of Foresight Riel Miller to expand our competence in future thinking.

Futures Literacy is about enhancing our capacity to imagine plural futures, which in turn makes us aware of new opportunities in the present. The present is exactly where we need to start if we want to tackle the urgent challenges of our time.

The Futures Literacy Lab expands our imagination by inviting us to consider the future from three different angles – namely the probable, the desirable, and the alternative futures. Its experiential approach harnesses creativity and collective intelligence at each of these three steps.

During this process, our understanding of the future deepens and new questions arise. It then becomes possible to perceive more opportunities in our environment and to consider a wider range of actions here and now.

Broadening our horizon of the future means expanding our scope of action today.


Futures Literacy: A new Way of Thinking about the Future

Futures Literacy is part of a relatively recent paradigm shift in contemporary futures studies. This school of thought replaces the desire to know the future with an ability to act spontaneously, creatively and opportunistically here and now, without the limitations due to predefined visions and expectations.

Unlike conventional foresight, which is limited both in time and in scope (generally 3 to 6 different future scenarios), Futures Literacy, as the name suggests, aims to develop a literacy, i.e. a ‘future competence’, which can then be put to use in any circumstance.

It is about encouraging a capacity to navigate the uncertainty of the future, or a “capacity to dance with the unknown” as Riel Miller puts it.



The UNESCO method is particularly well suited when challenges or the need for change arise (e.g.: digitalisation, climate change, social and political change, etc.) – since this is the moment when we need to imagine and discover other paths and opportunities toward desirable futures.

Futures Literacy lends itself well to:

– A reflection on the future of a more or less large domain

Examples: future of democracy, future of the cultural field, etc.

> Well suited for a professionals & network meeting, conference, or education program

– A reflection on the future of an organisation, a community or a company

Examples: the future of our organisation in 2030, the net zero CO2 emissions future of our company in 2050, our community in 10 years

> Well suited for a vision/strategy/governance development, a community empowerment program, an education program, or team building exercise


We have organised and facilitated Futures Literacy workshops for broad audiences, teams, or students and young people.

Online and in person. In English, in German and in French.

14.09.21 (short version), Climate and Sustainability Action Week, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), Lausanne

21.04.21, Competence Centre in Sustainability, University of Lausanne (UNIL), Lausanne

« The workshop was great, the whole team is delighted! »


Nelly Niwa, Director of the Competence Centre for Sustainability (CCD) at the University of Lausanne, on the workshop on the CCD's future in 2030 organised for the CCD team on 22 April 2021.

« I keep applying the three different perspectives "probable", "plausible", and "alternative" futures to my own work and private life – and they are very helpful! »


A participant to the "Zukunftsworkshop" based on the Future Literacy method and organised online on 22 January 2022 in collaboration with KOSMOS Kultur Zürich


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