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Ready, Set, Future! Introduction to Futures Thinking

Institute for the Future via Coursera


Do you want to think about the future with more creativity and optimism? Do you want to see what’s coming faster, so you can be better prepared for disruptions and more in control of your future? Do you want to get better at changing what’s possible today – in your company, your industry, your community, and in your own life?

This course will introduce you to the practice of futures thinking, as developed and applied for the past 50 years by the Institute for the Future, a Silicon-Valley-based research and learning group founded in 1968. In this course, you’ll build your understanding of what futures thinking is and what you can do with it. You’ll master essential foresight techniques. You’ll meet some professional futurists. And you’ll choose one or more future topics you want to investigate with your new foresight skills.

This course is for anyone who wants to spot opportunities for innovation and invention faster. You can gain the skills and confidence to help YOU become someone who makes the future, instead of letting the future happen to you.

Many thanks to the Enlight Foundation and the Enlight Collaborative, which provided a grant to support the creation of this course.


  • Welcome to the Future
    • The adventure begins! This week, you'll meet some professional futurists and learn: What is futures thinking? What are the benefits of futures thinking? Who hires futurists, and where can you put your new skills to use? By the end of this week, you'll be ready to choose your own future topics to explore throughout the rest of this course.
  • Signals of Change
    • This week, you'll learn how to collect and work with signals of change. Signals are the most important "raw material" of futures thinking. First, we'll show you some of our favorite signals and how we found them. Then, it's your turn: Collect and analyze signals related to your own future topic.
  • Look Back to Look Forward
    • It's time to strengthen your futures thinking skills by thinking about the past. It sounds strange, but to be a good futurist, you have to be a good historian as well! This week, you'll learn how to use our most powerful tool for "looking back to look forward."
  • Four Types of Futures Thinking
    • This week, you'll learn: What are the four different types of futures thinking, and when should you use each type? You'll also try out a fun futures thinking tool: the "Future Four-Square" game. This tool will help you dig deeper on your own future topic.... whatever you're interested in exploring the future of! Finally, get ready to help a friend or colleague think about the future. After all, the best way to learn something new is to teach someone else!

Taught by

Jane McGonigal


4.8 rating at Coursera based on 1149 ratings

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