Students from OCAD University’s Strategic Foresight & Innovation (SFI) graduate program picked up four awards at the Association of Professional Futurists (APF) 2014 Student Recognition Competition this month. Entries came from 26 universities around the world, including teams from Australia, India and Finland. The AFP represents professional futurists — people who study the future in order to help global corporations, small businesses, consultancies, education, non-profits and governments prepare for and gain advantage from coming changes.
The competition aims to recognize students who do outstanding work in futures studies. Associate Professor Suzanne Stein organized OCAD U’s student individual and team submissions, including work from both the SFI program and OCAD U’s Digital Futures program. The student work came out of the Foresight Studio, co-instructed by Stein and Assistant Professor Stuart Candy, as well as an Independent Study with Associate Professor Peter Jones. An international jury included OCAD U SFI graduate Zan Chandler (she was not permitted to review her Alma Mater submissions to avoid bias).
"A professional futurist studies possible, probable and preferable futures in order to help people understand, anticipate, prepare for and gain advantage from coming changes,” said Stein. “It is not the goal of a futurist to predict, but to assist others to understand their strategic options, in order to enable wiser decisions today."
Each student team was partnered with an industry ambassador or advisor to help ground the conversation in concerns, dilemmas and understandings that are critical to their industries today. Participation in this year’s competition builds on a new project in Foresight Studio called Time Machine, where students produce reports on possible future scenarios as well as create design-led, immersive simulations of selected stories for students, faculty, and community participants to explore.
APF Student Recognition Competition Achievements:
Towards a New Social Economy (Second Prize)
Comparing the key functions driving social interaction within Twitter to exchanges of commodity and currency, Daly-Buajitti’s project proposes a framework by which to conceive of an emerging "social economy," and discusses the impacts such a format of socializing might have on our sense of self and interpersonal relationships.
Zahra Ebrahim, Jonathan Hoss, Karen Maxwell and Shannah Segal:
Futures of Broadcast (First Prize)
With the assistance of an industry ambassador from TVO, the team examined the potential evolution of Canadian public broadcasting over the next two decades.
Hilary Best, Jennifer Chan, Karen Oikonen and Lauren Snowball:
Futures of Foreign Aid (Second Prize)
With an ambassador from Engineers Without Borders, the team produced a detailed overview of possible futures for the foreign aid sector through the year 2040.
Melissa Daly-Buajitti, Mark Singh and Adam Starkman:
Futures of Affluence (Second prize)
Core to this team’s project was “Nousopoly,” a new take on a well-known board game based on the dynamics of winner-takes-all capitalism, but redesigned to reflect a multiple-currency landscape in 2053. The team had ambassadorial input from Scotiabank.
“The Strategic Foresight & Innovation program has crafted a unique offering where design pedagogy and foresight practice meet. These awards demonstrate what a powerful combination that can be,” said Candy.