What is Future Studies?

Margo Upson
Margo Upson

Future studies, also known as futurology or foresight, involves the study of the past and present to make educated guesses about the future. The data gathered from these studies can be used to predict possible or probable future events or situations. It can also be used to design a way to reach preferable future conditions.

Businessman giving a thumbs-up
Businessman giving a thumbs-up

Many people believe that history is cyclical, or that certain circumstances will be seen again and again. This is the principle that future studies is based on. Searching history, and present times, for patterns can allow future forecasters a way to predict the future based on current conditions, and how those conditions have affected outcomes in the past. A lot of future studies uses cause and effect. For example, if a government is being unjust or is unpopular with the citizens of that country, the current government is either changed or overthrown. This has been seen hundreds of times throughout history, and will probably be a pattern seen a hundred more times.

There are numerous applications for future studies. One possible application is as a way to predict future fashion and design fads. The fashion market typically needs to work 18 months in advance, allowing the designers time to design, advertise, and manufacture the future styles. The stock market is another area where futurology is used. Determining which companies are likely to become successful, and which ones are heading for bankruptcy, requires the ability to use future studies correctly.

New businesses and organizations can use future studies to improve the likelihood of their success. Studying how other similar companies started, and how their business is run, can give a new business a lot of insight to different strategies. There are likely to be a lot of differences between a company that is making a lot of money and a company that didn't last more than a year. By studying these differences, a new company can determine its own success, following the steps of the more successful companies.

Some say that future studies cannot predict long-term events and trends in the way that it could a decade ago. Global changes in technology, communication, and marketing have resulted in scenarios that no one could have predicted. Change is happening at a faster pace than ever before in history. It will be difficult to foresee future trends because of these changes. New future studies professionals will need to be able to consider these new trends carefully before creating their predictions.

Margo Upson
Margo Upson

Margo has a varied academic background, which has involved everything from psychology and culinary arts to criminal justice and education. These wide-ranging interests make her an ideal wiseGEEK writer, as she always enjoys becoming an expert on new and unfamiliar topics.

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Discussion Comments


Interesting comments here. I think that the future can be predicted, but it also depends on who's predicting. If a scientists makes an accurate prediction about something but no one knows about it, it's of no use. Somehow the prediction needs to reach policy makers so that we can benefit, so that we can prepare for the future and make the best use of it.

Don't you think so?


I personally think that future studies causes people to become too confident about their decisions and plans. The stock market is a perfect example. How many times have we seen the stock market crash suddenly due to a completely unforeseeable event causing millions of dollars of losses? Too many times!

We've also seen it when political leaders make assumptions about how things are going to work out only to be completely surprised by future events causing them to lose popular support, damage the economy and so on and so forth.

It happens a lot because predictions are difficult. I also agree that the increase in technology has made the world even more complex. So future studies now is even harder than before.


I'm glad I found this article because when I used to hear about futurology, I thought that someone is just making up something about the future and hoping everyone follows. "How can you possible predict the future?" has always been my response.

I understand now though that when someone is studying the futurology of a field, they are very knowledgeable in it and all of their predictions about the future are based on facts.

It's not a strict prediction like I though it was. It's just the possibilities that may happen. In that sense, there is nothing wrong with futurology. We all do it in our personal lives. The only difference with futurology is that it concentrates on an issue, a country and so forth.

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