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Futures Studies
Connection to research is in-built within the study curricula. The researchers of the FFRC are utilized​ as teachers and especially encouraged to emphasize their own special knowledge, research results and know-how in their teaching.  
 

Futures Studies as a Field of Knowledge and as Scientific Work

The starting point of futures studies in many respects is the same as that of knowledge about society in general: it is based on our need to enlarge the amount of visible moral choices and to give a meaning to the choices we make in the present. Those choices, however, always depend on past development and on our earlier choices. One can think that in some things we can follow the traces of choices and their consequences far back – perhaps even hundreds of years. Moreover, the choices we make now are always connected to the information available at the moment of decision-making, as well as to the images of the future we have. Information and knowledge, used by society and private individuals in their choices, are for their part dependent both on history, culture, values, "Zeitgeist", and the personal level of learning, character and experiences of the actor.
 
The meaning of futures studies is to invent, evaluate and suggest possible and probable future. And to help people to go through different options in order to be able to make decisions on what is the future like they would want. This way it is possible to make effective plans to facilitate the best possible future to come true. In their work, futures researchers make use of research results and findings gained in other fields of science, and make conclusions on what different possible, probable and preferable states of the future there are facing us.
 

The starting points of futures studies 

The starting points of futures studies can be crystallized in the following way:
  • The future is not predictable. The only thing we can do is to build images and ideas on the events ahead of us – here we speak of many alternative futures.
  • The future is not predestined. We can only consider the probability of events and things, when we think about the possibilities.
  • We can affect the future with our actions and choices. Therefore it is important to know what is possible, what is probable, and what is preferable. The meaning of values and value discussions is thus unavoidable, when the alternative futures are considered.
The future cannot be directly researched. It does not exist in the present in the same ways as the present and the past. Instead, it does exist in the present as intentions, which we can study. We can also study such facts and phenomena which bear an influence on the future. Neither is the future predestined. We can research the alternative paths of development, as long as we bear in mind that the different end results have a different level of probability. Since it is possible to affect the quality of the future through single choices, it is naturally important to define, what kinds of choices lead to the best and most acceptable future state. Therefore value discussions are so important in futures studies.
 
Author: Dr. Anita Rubin (Finland Futures Research Centre)
 
 
 
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