Futures literacy and the diversity of the future

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In this paper, we argue that a key component of futures literacy is reflexivity regarding different attitudes toward the future. Various intellectual traditions and futures practices make epistemologically distinct claims about the future and its manifestations in the present. Through their different outlooks on analyzing, understanding, and influencing the future, these diverse approaches represent fundamentally different attitudes to what it means to meaningfully engage with the future. Because of this diversity of attitudes toward the future, and the different possible modes of engagement with the future, futures literacy is more complex than it appears at first glance. Looking at recent developments in futures literature, we build on four epistemologically and ontologically distinct approaches to the problem of the future. We argue that being futures literate depends on reflexivity about these different engagements with the future, and what these different approaches can offer future-oriented action respectively. Such reflexivity entails being reflexive about how different approaches to the problem of the future arise, as well as about the underlying power structures. We also investigate possibilities to cultivate this futures reflexivity and conclude with a set of questions to guide future research in deepening reflexivity as a key element of futures literacy.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102793
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


  • Engagement
  • Epistemology
  • Futures literacy
  • Reflexivity
  • Techniques of futuring


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