International Foresight Academy: Call for Abstracts

European IFA Academic Seminar

Participatory Foresight for Smarter Futures – From Design to Impact

September 16-19, 2013, ZHAW, Winterthur / Zurich, Switzerland

Call for Abstracts

Extended Abstract submission deadline: May 16, 2013

Foresight contributes to policy framing, design and implementation. It does so by providing an environment that enables a shared understanding of the present and ways in which it might evolve into possible futures, including disruptive ones. By doing so it empowers decision makers to shape a joint direction to follow that considers different stakeholders’ points of view and is adaptable over time.

Participatory formats which contribute to policy priority-setting take various forms in different countries. Foresight is one format among them. Foresight activities vary with regard to their functions in political priority-setting and strategy formulation of modern democracies. Many foresight practitioners value the possibility granted by foresight exercises to bring topics on the political agenda that need to be discussed not behind closed doors but with broad public involvement. The added value of foresight is seen in the shared goals and visions among a group of participating actors from different sectors, the development of networks, and the combination of relevant insights into current trends and likely future developments based both on evidence and on collective intelligence.

The role of foresight as a means of policy priority-setting and democratic participation has been changing over the last years as we witness a number of recent changes in the democratic systems of many countries. In some regions, foresight has emerged as a process favouring participatory governance, networking and interactive approaches through joint open reflection, consultation and discussion. Such approaches have led to the joint refinement of future visions and the ownership of common strategies.

The recently set up International Foresight Academy (IFA) aims to bring together foresight activities, experiences and initiatives from contrasting cultural and political contexts around the globe. IFA wants to explore and compare if foresight has the potential to function as a means to support societies to better face and influence politics, especially on critical issues that may determine and influence our future. IFA research will investigate if foresight can in fact provide some room for articulation to address even complicated and technologically sophisticated issues, overcoming public muteness and obliviousness. The identification of best practice models from empirical evidence in different countries and contexts will support other foresight practitioners to contribute to more transparency and participation in the debate of critical future issues. The interaction of technology with the social, behavioural and environmental aspects in integrative planning becomes more and more important.

The European IFA Academic Seminar will cover several topics related to participatory and democratic foresight in support of decision making. It shall thus address the inclusive and engaging nature of foresight through stakeholder involvement.
Members of the Swiss Academic Society for Environmental Research and Ecology SAGUF working group on energy future will co-organise a respective session and actively interact with the international IFA community to advance knowledge generation in this field.

In this context, this Academic Seminar will explore the development and use of foresight approaches aimed at enabling a smarter, more participatory and sustainable future through cross-cultural comparisons. The organisers invite authors to submit
contributions which either elaborate on the underpinning theoretical basis or present a practical national / regional perspective or an individual approach to participatory foresight, relating technological innovation(s) to social impacts. The focus shall lie on the following themes to make comparative studies possible:

  • Foresight’s role in supporting democracy targeted impacts:
    This theme will focus on the contributions foresight has had and can have to empower citizens to engage in decision making processes and thus shape participatory governance systems and democratic societies. Both theoretical and practical papers on topics such as stakeholder engagement; the shaping and use of networks to enable citizen participation; application of foresight in democratic decision making processes leading to social or technological innovations; transparency and democratisation of information; among others, are welcome.
  • Foresight and stakeholder online casino engagement in addressing grand challenges:
    This theme will focus on the contributions that participation and democracy enabled through foresight approaches can have in designing and implementing sustainable solutions to challenges societies face today and may face in the future. Both theoretical and practical papers on topics such as the use of trends, emerging signals and collective intelligence for sustainable futures; participation in addressing societal challenges and democratic decision-making on future technology choices, for instance in the context of so-called smart cities or of the future of energy generation, distribution and use; among others, are welcome.

Plenary keynotes, parallel sessions as well as workshop will enable attractive room for discussion and knowledge development among IFA partners and interested scientists, practitioners and decision makers.
Workshops with innovative, future-oriented companies, policy-makers, NGOs and the interested public will add value to the Academic Seminar.

Submission procedure
The paper abstract (between 300 and 500 words) should be submitted via email to the address: Please send it as an attached MS Word document saved as “first author surname.doc”.
Abstracts should include: i) title, ii) purpose of the paper, iii) methodology or description, iv) expected or achieved results and impacts, v) major conclusions.
Contributions should address one of the themes listed above or at least be in the scope of participatory and democratic foresight in support of decision-making.
All submissions will be reviewed anonymously by at least two independent reviewers. The reviewers will consider the paper’s novelty, academic quality and its relevance for the themes of the Academic Seminar. Authors will be notified about acceptance in May.

Publication of papers
Beyond advancing the theoretical and practical knowledge on the links between foresight, participation and democracy, the IFA Academic Seminar aims to jointly discuss and refine articles for joint publication.
Selected papers will be either published in a book or a special issue of one of the following journals: Technological Forecasting and Social Change and Futures.
Technological Forecasting and Social Change journal is particularly interested on papers with a technological focus and that relate technological innovation(s) to social impacts, whereas Futures journal is interested on papers that address the challenges revealed by studies dealing with effective and participatory foresight practices in democratic policy making to improving citizens’ relationships with their futures.

Important dates
Start of Abstract submission: March 15, 2013
Abstract submission deadline: May 16, 2013
Notification of acceptance: May 31, 2013
Author registration deadline: July 1, 2013
Full manuscript submission deadline: August 2, 2013
European IFA Academic Seminar: September 16-19, 2013

Foresight experts
from all over the world, e.g. from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North and South America as well as from Russia, are expected to participate.
Thanks for circulating this Call for Abstracts to interested colleagues!
(Apologies for cross postings).

Scientific Committee


  • Cristiano Cagnin (CGEE Centro de Gestão e Estudos Estratégicos, Brazil)
  • Vicente Carabias (ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland)
  • Jennifer Cassingena Harper (Malta Council for Science and Technology, Malta)
  • Susanne Giesecke (AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, Austria)
  • Ron Johnston (University of Sydney, Australia)
  • Andreas König (ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland)
  • Miguel Lengyel (FLACSO Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales, Argentina)
  • Ruben Nelson (Foresight Canada)
  • Blanca Pesado (FLACSO Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales, Argentina)
  • Fabiana Scapolo (Joint Research Centre, European Commission)
  • Matthias Weber (AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, Austria)