From the beginning of time, humans have been driven by both a fear of the unknown and a curiosity to know. We have always yearned to know what lies ahead, whether threat or safety, scarcity or abundance. Throughout human history, our forebears tried to create certainty in the unknown, by seeking to influence outcomes with sacrifices to gods, preparing for the unexpected with advice from oracles, and by reading the stars through astrology. As scientific methods improve and computer technology develops we become ever more confident of our capacity to predict and quantify the future by accumulating and interpreting patterns from the past, yet the truth is there is still no certainty to be had.
In this Very Short Introduction Jennifer Gidley considers some of our most burning questions: What is "the future?" Is the future a time yet to come? Or is it a utopian place? Does the future have a history? Is there only one future or are there many possible futures? She asks if the future can ever be truly predicted or if we create our own futures -both hoped for and feared - by our thoughts, feelings, and actions, and concludes by analyzing how we can learn to study the future.
ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
This pocket-size book ... gives the interested reader an amazing overview on the topic of future and the research field of futures studies ... The rich knowledge and the packed information of ideas, dates, and names is especially helpful for anyone working in the terrain of futures studies as well as students in the field to connect the dots of the many international strains, which often seem so disconnected. * Stefanie Ollenburg, beFORE *
[Gidley] deserves congratulations for helping a lay audience better understand [the future]. * Charles Brass, Compass *
We all should give Jennifer Gidley a standing ovation. This is an absolutely wonderful source, as a basic textbook about the field, and as a very good short introduction about the futureS for everyone. * Jim Dator, World Futures Review *
This is a remarkable book, a useful guide to the future, a revision guide to the future and a reminder of what future studies are all about ... a must read for everyone whether you are a trainee aspiring futurist or a fully qualified one with a PhD. * Ian Seymour Yeoman, Journal of Tourism Futures *
The book is a must read for erudites desiring to broaden their knowledge on the subject. For those considering applying futures thinking in their academic or corporate research, the book serves as a guide for further reading based on Jennifer Gidleys deep and thorough understanding of futures studies as a discipline. * Scenario Magazine *
Brilliant and concise This book not only raises the issues in a highly readable manner, but also raises awareness, and as such I can recommend it unreservedly. * David Lorimer, Network Review *
A wonderfully concise and brilliantly written book * Jade Taylor-Salazar, E&T Magazine *
A thoroughly researched and beautifully expressed invitation to look deeper at this fascinating field of enquiry * Richard Slaughter, Foresight International *
1: Three Thousand Years of Futures
2: The Future Multiplied
3: The Evolving Scholarship of Futures Studies
4: Crystal Balls, Flying Cars and Robots
5: Technotopian or Human-Centred Futures?
6: Grand Global Futures Challenges
Further Reading & websites
Appendix: Global Futures Timeline