Future oriented thinking is vital for any forward and strategic planning or policy activity to be able to meet future challenges proactively. Foresight enhances such thinking by gathering anticipatory intelligence from a wide range of knowledge sources in a systematic way and linking it to today’s decision making.

What is ForLearn?

The ForLearn is an Online Foresight Guide designed to provide a structured and comprehensive foresight data base oriented towards different kind of users. It gives practitioners, policy makers as well as beginners the means to understand, participate and practice foresight and supports. Furthermore it provides the community with a very specific and constantly expanding collection of Foresight related knowledge, which shows the impacts of foresight and how to attain it, providing examples from real cases. The guide addresses the three following three main Questions.

What is Foresight?

Foresight is a systematic, participatory, future-intelligence-gathering and medium-to-long-term vision-building process aimed at present-day decisions and mobilising joint actions. Research and innovation policies are based on (implicit or explicit) visions of the future of science, technology and society [More].


Why do Foresight?

The emergence of grand societal challenges, such as climatic change or aging population, raises questions on how innovation systems should be organised and whether in their current structures and dynamics, they are suitable for such challenges. In their very nature, global challenges are boundary-spanning: they demand an interdisciplinary approach both in terms of research and governance, and require longer time-frames than normal planning activities. Furthermore, they require managing and embracing uncertainty rather than reducing it. As such, they cannot be addressed by current institutional setting [More].

How to do Foresight?

Foresight exercises are complex and highly interactive processes. As stressed previously in the guide, there is no “one-single” way to organise an exercise. Although each individual exercise will have its own specific characteristics, they should all have in common the following: a good exercise starts with a deep understanding of the context in which it is embedded and a clear set of objectives. This will lead to an adequate selection of the Methods in an iterative Foresight Approach [More].

Educational Sites

The EFP also maintains a list of Educational Sites, where you can find a broad selection of different universities, organisations and institutions all over the world providing opportunities to be trained in Foresight and Future Studies.


We invite everyone who is involved in Foresight or Future Studies to help keep this data base up to date by actively participating in the shaping. Please get in touch with us if you want to contribute with articles or other helpful information in your areas of expertise.

This foresight guide is an updated and streamlined version of the FOR-LEARN, a 6th Framework Programme project of the European Commission developed by JRC-IPTS with the support of the Directorate General for Research, from January 2005 to May 2008.