The Big Picture
-- a university of arizona course on methods and approaches for studying the future

When doing a futures study you must limit the scope or you will never complete the project. While you should focus on the most relevant topics to your own needs, it is useful to understand the "big picture" - that is, what is the overall context that your study must relate to.

One way of gaining this context is to diagram the key activities that should be addressed and then learn enough about each so you do not have any inconsistencies or big gaps in your study. You also need to consider uncertainty and trends that are so strong they are likely to continue as well as those trends that are more vulnerable to change. Finally, since there are no single right answers, you need to look at alternative futures (or scenarios) to help open your mind and allow your some room to present real options that may differ significantly from each other.

Go to the "transformation" map to see a collection of activities as described above. Selecting an activity takes you to a definition and some contain links for additional information. I titled this map as "transformation" because if you fully understand all the pieces, and the world is changing fast (that is, it is being transformed), you will gain a better understanding of the potential scale of change..

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Prepared by Roger L. Caldwell