Why Social Workers Should Be Futurists – A Love Letter to the Future

(This is an accepted proposal for an upcoming “TED”-type talk I’ll be giving at the Council on Social Work Education meeting in Denver on October 26, 2019.)

Ever get the feeling that the future is coming on faster than we can make sense of it? Do the challenges ever seem like they are multiplying? In some respects they are….but so are people, communities and possibilities for positive change that are tackling these challenges in intensely creative and future facing ways. Some suggest – our very survival as a planet depends on our ability to harness “the best” of who we are to navigate and co-create the future in new ways. The truth is, being “futures literate” is an acquirable skill…and while it doesn’t mean a person can predict (with absolute certainty) or control the future, it does mean that we can enter the future better prepared to deal with whatever comes. This practice is called “foresight” and it is being practiced all over the world. Foresight is being used in a variety of private and public sectors. It is a “big tent” community full of technologists, ethicists, scientists, artists, gamers, equity workers, inventors, engineers and policy wonks (to name a few). But social work is only beginning to explicitly engage with this body of knowledge and set of practices. While in many respects – everything we do in social work is implicitly “for the future” – there is so much more possible. Our value propositions, skills and tools as social workers can enhance futures practice – and futures practice can challenge us to think bigger across our profession. Come learn about the ideas, methods and fascinating world of this global community and practice that can build collective imagination, intelligence and agility to deepen our impact, increase our effectiveness and help to build the world we want to live in. Should every social worker be a futurist? YES. We belong and are much needed in this movement and in the future (as are the people and communities we work and stand with). Come learn more!!! Let’s build a better future.

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