Master of Data Science for Public Policy   Master of International Affairs   Master of Public Policy  

Looking at the future: Scenario approaches

While we cannot know the future, we can prepare for it, hoping to fathom the unexpected and what may lie ahead. In recent decades, different forecasting and foresight approaches have been developed in the social sciences that include both qualitative and quantitative techniques and that have found a wide range of applications. Prominent among them are scenario building and related foresight approaches for developing detailed portraits of plausible alternative futures. They offer policy analysts and strategic planners theoretically-informed and methodologically-sound knowledge about the challenges and opportunities possible futures might present. These methods form a practical set of tools for gaining a better understanding of alternative developments, events and outcomes. 

The course will review scenario approaches and look at a range of applications. During the first sessions, we will discuss a range of topics of interest to students, form working groups and develop a plan for conducting in-class scenario exercises. Students will work in groups on specific tasks and present to the class for feedback, culminating in a final presentation of the developed scenario. 

Main learning objectives: 

  • Have a good understanding of the essentials of foresight approaches 

  • Be familiar with methodological aspects involved 

  • Be able to conduct a scenario exercise