Course Introduction
-- a university of arizona course on methods and approaches for studying the future

What is this course all about?

The course title is very descriptive -- anticipating the future: methods and approaches for studying the future. It should allow you to "anticipate the future" a little (but you cannot predict the future, even with all the great information you will pick up here!). The course objectives give more details on how we will do this. The course is NOT about learning a lot about a particular subject or debating different viewpoints on critical futures issues. The course is structured that you can do a lot on your own, but we will also meet face to face. The course used to be a regular classroom meeting format (but also with electronic discussions) but it is not primarily on-line for your own learning but with face-to-face meetings with the instructor. If you are in the course or coming as a visitor, there are several ways you can get a quick exposure to the topics or review futures topics - see the "futures at a glance" in the upper left portion of the home page.

What do I have to do?

This course is probably very different from what you have experienced so far. You will be more on your own - there will be no exams but study questions are available. We will not meet as often as a regular class because you will be doing a lot via the course web pages and the Caucus electronic discussions. The futures approaches part of the class is covered largely in the web pages, but how we apply that to specific topics and how we choose the topics will be a decision we will all make. There will be teams of students to develop specific studies and share/discuss with others. We will meet in small groups of students (depending on the size of the class), a little like some European universities - I will be more of a mentor and guide and you will participate more in the discussions. There will be a 'term paper' requirement that is a study of the future of your chosen career. I will be available via email and will respond often within the same day, and you can meet whenever you need more detailed discussions. I will send you a weekly assignments list and you should send me a weekly progress report of how you are doing (one problem with electronic classes is the loss of context, and this will keep you from falling behind).

How should I interact with the web page and the discussion area (Caucus)?

The web page ( is the central place to start. From there you can reach reference material, move to the on-going discussion, catch up on announcements, and link to a wide range of organizations and information sources. Everything can be done through your browser and no special software is needed. There are enough computer access sites on campus to meet your needs and generally most students have their own computers for working at home. You can use any email address you wish (but please remember to tell me if you change it during the course) but you will need a university email account to get into Caucus (you don't have to use it for your email, just as a logon name for Caucus).

How do I use Caucus (the software that runs the discussions)?

Basically, you will need to learn how to use these web pages and the discussions. You will learn how to read entries and make your own submissions. Go to caucus help on the course home page or caucus discussion page to learn the basics. This includes how to read only the new material, read old material, search the conference for specific words, find people or put the important postings in a personal notebook for future reference. You can "resign" from any caucus topic discussion you wish, or rejoin later, so you can adjust the time commitment to what time you can afford. You an also make an "anonymous" statement into a Caucus discussion (if I set up a particular discussion in that way). We will go over how to get started on caucus in an early session. You should plan to sign into caucus several times a week - if we don't have good participation from everyone, we won't have new sufficient material to discuss.

Sharing and Finding Information

The course structure allows us to share as we learn and have access to a tremendous amount of resources via Internet. Some references are located on the web pages. Add you own references to Caucus (use Internet URL addresses so other people can link directly to the source, when possible). Raise questions, respond to other people's questions, and contribute so we all learn something. On the web pages there is a "search" option at the top of the main page; this is will find any word in the web based portion of the class. When you are in Caucus, you can search for any word with each any discussion topic.

What Should I Do First ?

There are three things you should do: 1) gain familiarity with the web site and caucus, so you feel comfortable using the available resources, 2) participate in discussions on topics of your choice, and 3) keep up with the assessments that will be posted weekly (on the assignments page and also as an email).

Return to "Anticipating the Future" course home page
Prepared by Roger L. Caldwell