Class Central is learner-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.


Urgent Optimism: How to Turn Foresight into Action

Institute for the Future via Coursera


Limited-Time Offer: Up to 75% Off Coursera Plus!
7000+ certificate courses from Google, Microsoft, IBM, and many more.
When you get better at thinking about the future, you get better at changing the future. This course will help you take all of the foresight skills you’ve developed so far and apply them to making real positive change in your life, in your work, and in the world around you. You’ll learn how to create and share “preferred futures”, which are highly persuasive, compelling visions of the changes you want to make real. You’ll use your preferred future to identify obstacles, recruit allies, collect resources, and plan action to make your vision real. You’ll also practice making “artifacts” from the future, which are creative representations of how everyday life might be different in the future. Artifacts can inspire others to join you in your quest to make a preferred future real. Leading futurists from the Institute for the Future will share with you their favorite future artifacts – and walk you through the entire creative process it took to make them. Every action we take today changes the future. This course will help you identify and take the actions that make the BIGGEST, most strategic impacts on the most urgent challenges you and society face. Many thanks to the Enlight Foundation and the Enlight Collaborative, which provided a grant to support the creation of this course.


  • Preferred Futures
    • Welcome to Urgent Optimism! If you're ready to act now to change the future, you're in the right place. This week, you'll learn all about preferred futures. A preferred future describes exactly what changes you want to make in the world, and it helps you strategize to make those changes real. Let's go!
  • Images of the Future
    • You've defined the future YOU want to make. But who else shares your vision? This week, you'll learn how to find and analyze images of the future. An image of the future is any popular expression - in movies, books, TV, videogames, comics, religion, political manifestos - of what the future might be like. It can help you understand: What futures do others hope for? What futures do they fear? How can you present your preferred future in the most compelling way?
  • Artifacts from the Future
    • This week, you'll learn another persuasive technique: how to make "artifacts from the future". An artifact is a real-world object that brings the everyday details of a possible future to life. A good artifact can blur the line between the present and the future, sparking "a ha" moments and conversations that lead to action today. We'll show you how we made our favorite artifacts. By the end of the week, you'll be ready to create your own!
  • Action Roadmaps
    • Finally, it's time for the most practical tool in Institute for the Future's toolkit: the Action Roadmap. This week, you'll learn how to work backwards from your preferred future to plan actions you can take today, this month, this year, and this decade to make the biggest impact on the future. We'll show you our action roadmaps. Then you'll show us yours!
  • You're Ready to Make the Future!
    • You've made it! Let's celebrate your new Urgent Optimism skills with one more action: a Pledge to Make the Future. Learn how to use the tool, make your own pledge, and bring your community together to make many pledges that can truly change the future.

Taught by

Jane McGonigal


4.8 rating at Coursera based on 243 ratings

Start your review of Urgent Optimism: How to Turn Foresight into Action

Never Stop Learning.

Get personalized course recommendations, track subjects and courses with reminders, and more.

Someone learning on their laptop while sitting on the floor.