Envisioning Our Future
—Describing your vision of our future
How would you like to world to be 50, 100, or even 1,000 years from now? Where would you like to see humanity headed? What could be possible if we harness our best aspirations, intentions, and capabilities? In what direction are you heading? What is your vision of the future? How can you help make that future a reality?
Lewis Carroll told us that "If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there" Don't wander aimlessly, know where you are headed.
This course can help you write a description of our world as you would like to see it become at some specific future date.
The objectives of this course are to:
- Stimulate your thinking about what really matters to you.
- Engage your creativity and imagination.
- Help you dream of the possibilities of what can be.
- Encourage you to consider what ought to be.
- Help you describe your vision of the future.
- Use your vision of the future to begin making decisions that can help all of us move in that direction.
There are no prerequisites to this course. Students may wish to work on this course as they work through the Living Wisely course in parallel.
This course is part of the Applied Wisdom curriculum.
You can prepare to describe your vision of the future in any ways that work for you. Here are some activities to consider.
- Think about what you like about the world as it is now. What brings you joy? Where do you find fun? Consider all that you are grateful for. Write lists of what you like, what makes you happy, and what you are grateful for.
- Think about what you do not like about the world as it is now. What makes you sad? What makes you angry? What causes you pain? What are your grievances? Write this down. If you can foresee changes that would reduce or eliminate these grievances, describe these.
- Identify trends. Notice and explore cultural, social, political, economic, and technology trends. Seek out the driving force propelling each trend. Predict if each is merely a fad, or is capable of becoming a transformational force. Extrapolate the transformative trends into the future to imagine their impacts.
- Consider this list of grand challenges we face today. What problems are you most concerned about? How might these problems be solved?
- Read books and articles that describe future possibilities.
- Talk to friends about this. Ask them “What is your vision of the future?” Listen to fully understand their views. Ask them why they foresee this and not that? Engage them in a Socratic dialogue to explore the question “What ought our future be?”
- Talk to your dog. Explain to your dog in great detail and at great length how wonderful the world could be if only … Then take notes to record the highlights of your fascinating conversation. (If you don't have a dog, use a stuffed animal, pillow, imaginary friend, or anything else that listens quietly and encourages you.)
- Browse galleries of various fantasy art forms to stimulate your imagination.
- Consider many possibilities of what can be.
- Give careful thought to what ought to be.
- Dream on!
Consider the following list of questions and topics to consider in your description. This list is inclusive and longer than you are likely to be able to consider and address in your description. Choose those that are most meaningful to you.
Use your boldest aspirations tempered by your practical knowledge of today’s world to describe the world you want—the best world achievable—in the particular future date you choose to describe.
What would be the world order? What is the status of human rights, national and international governments, legal systems, law enforcement, financial systems, politics, military, education, healthcare, cultural mores, ethics, entertainment, and religious institutions?
Will the world be more or less violent? Will income inequality increase or decrease? How will the poorest among us live? How will the richest among us live? What will the population be? Will the national debt increase or decrease? Will military spending increase or decrease? Will incarceration rates increase or decrease? What advances in technology, social structure, education, health, food production, financial structures, government, community structures, family structures, justice, weaponry, transportation, international relations, end of life care, and other areas will be prominent in that time span? What will be our energy sources? What will be our transportation modes? What will we eat? What levels of health and fitness will be typical? What will be the human lifespan? What will be the most destructive diseases? Which of today’s diseases will be prevented or cured? How will people spend their time? Characterize employment. Will well-being improve or degrade for various population groups?
We face these grand challenges today. Which, if any, of these problems will be resolved? What will be the grand challenges in the future?
Address other topics you believe are important. Embrace as large a scope as you can, ideally you will adopt a global perspective and include of this earth and its inhabitants.
Choose a specific date in the future so your description can be specific. I chose a date when our granddaughters will be close to my present age. You will have your own important reasons for choosing a particular date.
Browse the descriptions in this gallery for inspiration and guidance:
Write Down Your Vision of Our Future
Start writing! If you get stuck, take a break for a few minutes, a few hours, a few days or longer. Go for a walk. Contemplate what you have written, reflect on the questions your work has uncovered, explore what you need to explore and think more about, and make the decisions you need to make to continue writing the description.
Consider sharing drafts with close friends who can give you support, ideas, suggestions, and helpful feedback.
Reread, revise, rethink, and rewrite.
It may be best to write a first person narrative set in the future date you have chosen to describe.
If you would like to, please link your description to the examples listed above. This will help other students. Alternatively, you may wish to share drafts of your essay on social media, get feedback from friends, and revise the essay before linking it here.
What can you do now to help us move toward the future you have described? Take those actions. Use your vision of the future to guide your day-to-day decision making, choose your goals, suggest meaningful New Year’s resolutions, and longer term planning.
Many books describe future possibilities. Science fiction, fantasy, and other genres are dedicated to helping us imagine a future. Here are some specific books that may be particularly helpful.
- Zander, Benjamin; Stone Zander, Rosamund (September 24, 2002). The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life. Penguin Books. pp. 201. ISBN 978-0142001103.
- Leonard, Sarah; Sunkara, Bhaskar (February 2, 2016). The Future We Want: Radical Ideas for the New Century. Metropolitan Books. pp. 208. ISBN 978-0805098297.
- Quinn, Daniel (May 1, 1995). Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit. Bantam. p. s263. ISBN 978-0553375404.