“We study the past and we should. That’s where our information is, our traditions are and where the data is, but we should study the future, too,” said University of Houston faculty associate professor Peter Bishop.
Everyone should know someone like him. He’s a futurist and in the business of helping you see yours. He directs the UH Graduate Futures Studies Program which is not concerned with crystal balls and tarot cards, but practical tools to create transformational change.
“Others hope for better things, but those tend to be along the same road,” Bishop said. “It’s about five to 10 percent improvement on this, that or the other thing. We’re saying that’s great. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but let’s try for something bigger. Let’s try for vision, which is hard to achieve and work toward. It means we have to soul search and ask what do we want in the next 10-20 years?”
The UH Futures Studies program is one of a handful of such graduate programs in the country. Futurists work with corporations, cities, non-profits or individuals to help them shape clear objectives and goals. Students become fluent in strategic planning, scenarios and visions, and social change, to prepare for fields like political science, engineering, urban planning. Futurists now are examining Houston and the kind of transformational change that is needed to carry the city into the next fifty years.
“We don’t want to go the way of Detroit. Our challenge is that we believe in the next century the oil industry will go into its twilight period. Our questions deal with what Houston is going to be in the second half of the century, not just the first half.”
The Graduate Futures Studies Program is part of what’s happening at the University of Houston.
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