Building Blocks for Futures Studies
-- a university of arizona course on methods and approaches for studying the future

There are only a few essential steps for a basic futures study. You can get the broader picture with more building blocks represented on the big picture page.
Paradigms are the "unwritten rules of change", they form the backdrop for everything else. For example, the "cold war" was a paradigm - there was no formal statement on how it would influence many sectors of the economy, but it clearly had some influences. What are the next paradigms and how will the shift affect your study? More information on paradigms is available.
Trends and driving forces
Collecting individual trends and grouping them into a few (4-6 or so) driving forces (e.g., economy, social/political, technological) allows you to get a good impressing where we are heading if current conditions continue. More information on driving forces is available.
Wildcards and uncertainty
To do any study of this type, you need to know your assumptions (and they should be stated). You need to know what you don't know that is important, and find more information about those topics. You need to recognize the uncertainty that exists, especially if you go very far into the future. And you should expect wildcards to occur (unexpected events that could have a big impact). A recent example was the terrorist event on the World Trade Center. More information on uncertainty and change is available.
How do you put all this together?
Go the the "putting it all together" section for some suggestions.
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Prepared by Roger L. Caldwell