Driving Forces
-- a university of arizona course on methods and approaches for studying the future

Driving forces can be identified by different approaches. This page summarizes some and also includes driving forces as seen through the eyes of experts in the field. It is organized so you can see a particular driving force, see who agrees, and they what others in that list believe for other driving forces.

Generally a listing includes 5-7 driving forces and each is made up of a cluster of trends that make it important to consider (more than 5-7 is too difficult to understand and breaks the categories into too many smaller groups). Commonly they are categorized by science and technology, economics, demographics, political and social and then some that focus on your particular interest area (e.g., environment, education). There is no one right answer for selecting the components of driving forces. These few examples are for helping you define your own. These are the forces that allow change to occur. You can think of them as clusters of trends or shifts within society so great that they cause other significant shifts. Understanding driving forces is important for strategic planning or scenario building (or any other activity that involves anticipating the future).

5 Tsunamis of change (Jim Dator, University of Hawaii)
Culture and Diversity, New Technologies and Techniques, Impacts of Environmental Change on Society, Economics, Political
Horizon (Jim Morrison, University of North Carolina, focus on education).
Social, Technological, Economy, Environmental, Political (STEEP)
Short listing of data sources for driving forces and trends (a way to keep up on driving forces by reading summaries done by others.
One can find trends of many types, so are emerging, some disappearing, and some long term. However, it is more important to understand the underlying "forces" that drive trends (in any direction), so you will have a framework in which to relate the more detailed trends.

These underlying forces are "driving forces". They are generally grouped within 5-6 major subject areas (e.g., demographic, economic, technological). By knowing, for example, the demographic transition due to minorities, age distribution, and migration patterns, you can form a basic understanding of many yet to be identified trends dealing with population, markets, political issues, and social changes.

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Prepared by Roger L. Caldwell