Future Africa launches successful Futures Literacy Masterclass

The Future Africa Futures Literacy (FL) Incubator held its first Futures Literacy Masterclass from 15 to 18 August 2023 in partnership with the Wits School of Governance. The masterclass brought together 38 participants from a variety of backgrounds, including academics, practitioners, and students to explore the concept of futures literacy and its application to different fields.

The masterclass was led by a team of experts, including Professor Riel Miller leading expert in futures studies, Professor Geci Karuri-Sebina, a foresight and futures practitioner, and Mr Koffi Kouakou, a Long Now futurist and social commentator.

"The idea with the masterclass is to build participants capability to imagine different types of futures" said Jason Owen, Futures literacy manager at Future Africa."We want to give them the ability to diversify their imagination and harness the power of creativity and novelty in thinking about the future."

The masterclass kicked off with a warm-up exercise called the "Polak Game," which helped participants to begin to reflect on how they think about the future. They were asked to place themselves on two axes according to their views on two questions: "Are you positive or negative about the future?" and "Do you think your actions can make a difference to the future?"

The participants were then divided into groups to discuss a topic of their choice for the Futures Literacy Laboratory (FL Lab). The class decided to focus on the "future of food" and explored different perspectives on this complex issue through the lens of probable and preferred futures.

One of the highlights of the masterclass was the reframing scenario exercise, in which participants imagined a future where humans can photosynthesise like plants and get all their nutritional needs from the sun. They then worked together to create sculptures that represented their vision of this future. This exercise helped participants to think creatively about the possibilities for the future and to challenge their assumptions about the future.

Another highlight of the masterclass was a discussion on "anticipatory governance." The participants learned about how to understand futures literacy in relation to foresight, scenario planning, and futures studies. They also discussed how to integrate these ideas into policy debates and decision-making processes.

The masterclass concluded with a series of presentations from the participants. Each group presented their case study for their own FL Lab, which they had developed over the course of the week. They explained the different aspects of the design process and methods for engaging in a futures project.

The Futures Literacy masterclass was a success, and participants left with a deeper understanding of the importance of futures literacy and how to apply it in different areas of life. They also gained valuable insight into foresight, scenario planning, and anticipatory governance.

The idea with the masterclass is to build participants capability to imagine different types of futures. We want to give them the ability to diversify their imagination and harness the power of creativity and novelty in thinking about the future.



A snapshot of the participatory workshop activities during the four-day Futures Literacy masterclass

"The masterclass was well-executed," said one participant."I have gained so many takeaways and have forged new ways of thinking."

"The masterclass gave me tools I can use in my work and personal context," said another participant."I plan to continue staying involved with the Futures Literacy incubator in various ways, and conduct labs in the Western Cape area."

In a world that is always complex and uncertain, futures literacy is an essential skill for everyone. If you are interested in learning more about futures literacy or participating in the Future Africa Futures Literacy Incubator, please visit: https://futureafrica.science/our-programmes/futures-literacy-incubator