Future Workshop

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Future Workshops are small group deliberations which imagine future solutions to current problems. The process unfolds in three stages: critique (determination of the current problem), fantasize (solutions to the problem), and implementation.

Future Workshops are underpinned by an emphasis on "critique, learning, team work, democracy, and empowerment" [1, p2], making them particularly suitable for use with oppressed and marginalised groups to develop solutions in their communities [1]

Future Workshops can be used as a method of participatory research. Its creative, participant-led format also has similarities with Open Space Technology and BarCamp.

Problems and Purpose



Future Workshops were developed in the 1970s by Robert Jungk and are detailed in the book Future Workshops: How to Build Desirable Futures. Jungk, an journalist and writer, was inspired by "socialist principles related to democratic, participative, and collective decision making by critical citizens that will become emancipated individuals, becoming their own attorneys before the state" [1, p3].

These principles underpin the phases of the process, beginning with critique which helps expose the realities of the current problem/situation.

Participant Selection


Deliberation, Decisions, and Public Interaction

Future workshops may involve numerous participants but deliberations are usually confined to groups of no more than 20 individuals with at least one facilitator. The small-group dialogue usually unfolds in three stages: critique (determination of the current problem), fantasize (solutions to the problem), and implementation.

The process outlined below has been taken from this description of Future Workshops by ProWork Project.

Critique phase

  1. Designed to draw out specific issues and problems in question/producing a critical understanding of the problem
  2. Steps:
  3. Collection of critique points (by written cards/brainstorming)
  4. Systematisation (clustering) on a pin board
  5. Evaluation, condensation, intensification, priorities

Fantasy phase

  1. Imaginative introduction (meditation, work, walks ...)
  2. Turn critique points into the opposite (bad to good) as starting points
  3. Collect ideas (brain writing)
  4. Preparing and performing a role play, fable, report, painting, fairytale to a fantastic story (as group work)
  5. A common analysis of these performances with regard to good solutions/ideas
  6. Extract, write down an “idea store” on a pin board

Implementation phase

  1. Evaluate the concepts of the “idea store” with regard to realistic conditions and best fit (PM-method)
  2. Put in more concrete terms, the best-suited concepts (group work)
  3. Choose the best one
  4. Build an action plan: Who does what, where, when and how?

Influence, Outcomes, and Effects


Analysis and Lessons Learned


Secondary Sources

[1] Vidal, R.V.V. (2005) The Future Workshop: Democratic Problem Solving [Technical Report], Denmark: Technological University of Denmark. Available at: http://www.imm.dtu.dk/~rvvv/CPPS/6Chapter6Thefutureworkshop.pdf

External Links

ProWork Project (2009) Future Workshop. Available at: http://www.proworkproject.com/prowork/future-workshop.html  Schuler, D. and Namioka, A. (1993) Participatory Design: Principles and Practice. New Jersey: Laurence Erhlbaum Associates. Available at: https://books.google.ca/books?id=pWOEk6Sk4YkC&pg=PA165&lpg=PA165&dq=futu...  




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