This is the first in a series of multiple upcoming articles in process regarding social work and foresight/futures practice. Wish me luck in the review process!!
Social Work, the Future and Technology: A Foresight Lens and a Call to Action for the Profession
Laura Burney Nissen
As we head into the year 2020, a set of questions looms large over the social work profession. Are there social problems of the future that are “around the corner” from what we can see right now that may change the way we think about power, social problems, possible solutions and opportunities? What new opportunities might appear, and would we as a profession, be able to spot and leverage them to advance the well-being of vulnerable people with whom we work and ally? This is a paper that explores what being more future facing might look like as social workers and educators, using technology as a sample focus area and introducing foresight practice frameworks and methods that are available to assist us. Foresight practice is a collection of ideas and methods that support individuals and groups to be more effective (and foresightful) in navigating increasingly turbulent economic, political, natural and social ecosystems. It’s goals are to a) to develop collective intelligence, agility and imagination b) do so in the service of increasing intentional evolution of thought and action, c) refine the ability to anticipate with greater proficiency and finally d) increase the probability of co-creating desired futures in keeping with social work values including but limited to antiracism, human rights and social justice. The paper ends with a call to action for social work to amplify and evolve its strengths to join the interdisciplinary community of those using forecasting methods to build a better future.