Exploring how social workers can increase their impact through futures frameworks – All content developed by Laura Burney Nissen, Ph.D., LMSW, CADCIII, Portland State University School of Social Work, Portland, Oregon, USA, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @lauranissen
Futurists are not big on making “predictions.” That said, looking over all the ideas that other people have across the landscape of the economic/social/government landscape is a valuable exercise. Many of these won’t come true, or may not come true in the ways we think they will, and some will happen. Surely other things will happen that we didn’t see coming. More to the point…what is around the corner from these predictions?
I like looking at them…but I take them all with a grain of salt and a degree of skepticism. As stated earlier in this blog…they are more valuable as a collection…and I think they communicate as much or more collectively as they do individually.
These are amusing, interesting, disturbing and complex. I’ve tried to gather up a few I thought were particularly of note…but this list isn’t exhaustive at all. Offered just to begin getting our brains wrapped around the idea that 2020 is here…and new things will keep coming! (I’ll keep adding to this list in the early months of 2020 as I’m sure more will be coming!!)
Let’s learn together and use all this (and more information) that we discover and gather to build the future we want. But first – a couple of bonus pieces that stretch our creativity and reflection skills!
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.
As we prepare to head towards the end of 2019, and gearing up for a couple of big projects related to this topic, I wanted to do a round up of various things I’ve collected on the future of work. Thought I’d share them for followers in case you’d like to explore in a more comprehensive format!
(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.
It was my pleasure to share my futures work with colleagues who work in the addictions field from across our region this past week. As promised, I’m sharing my slides! Please access them here! Note that the page about technology and the future of mental health care from the National Institute of Mental Health I mentioned can be accessed here. Also of interest on my blog are additional links to work I’ve done in related topics here, here and here.
Please follow along and join the coversation – you can do so here and/or find me on Twitter @lauranissen. It was great spending the morning with you this week!!
Do you ever wonder to yourself about what social scientists, social workers, app developers, related professionals and researchers are exploring with regard to what is happening with mental health technology, and how ethics are playing out in their application to urgent mental health challenges in world? Melanie Sage and I have been thinking about this very thing – and we gathered up some of our resources to share them with you here.
Being future ready, means that we have a sense of how technology, ethics and the needs of the people we work with and for – intersect. Many people are doing work in this space. Let’s contribute, exchange ideas, debate and explore.
Do you have other favorites you might want to share with us? Please be in touch – the more we grow our shared capacity to learn, develop deeper capacity and spread the best use of ethical tech in mental health practice – the better for all!