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FORESIGHT - Future Oriented Education for Students Incorporating GSC in High-paced Times

Erasmus+ project in the field of Strategic Partnerships for higher education

Rapid developments such as urbanization, globalization, the rise of the Internet of Things, robotization, artificial intelligence, and 3D-printing are changing our society as never before. They also are our future more and more uncertain. How will people respond to all these changes? Which new products and services should be developed based on these new technologies? And how do we make sure that these technologies and products benefit our society non only economically but also make our society more social and our planet more sustainable? These new technologies ask us new questions and new questions require new answers. These answers will not be given by old or current approaches employed by those who are now in charge. Rather, our students, the ‘business and social leaders of the future, will or perhaps should be the ones who guide our society into this unknown future. Are they able to do that?

Are they trained in looking at future developments and translate these into innovations that lead us to a more responsible future? In our opinion they are not, and we hear from our stakeholders similar opinions. The good news is that students are indeed interested in the future, and making that future far better than it currently is. But the bad news is that they lack the required sills and capabilities, making them also less consciousness of or oriented to the future since people tend to not worry about something that they can’t influence. And so do our students, unfortunately.

The objective of this project is to develop teaching modules that enable our students to look to the future (apply foresight) and to develop innovations based on those futures that are not only commercial sound, but also are socially right and are sustainable. In addition, we want to develop an instrument by which we can monitor the ‘future consciousness’ or ‘future orientation’ of our students during the period that they follow the courses we develop. We expect that the level of future consciousness or future orientation of our students will increase due to the foresight courses they follow and by developing future-proof concepts and innovations.

In particular, this project will carry out the following activities:

  • Translating the concept of ‘Grand Societal Challenges’ into a workable concept that we can use as inspiring point of departure of our foresight and innovation processes.
  • Developing teaching modules on foresight and innovation.
  • Teaching other teachers to apply the developed courses.
  • Developing and applying an instrument to monitor the ‘futures consciousness’ or ‘future orientation’ of the students taking the courses.

In this project we use the methodologies of ‘sustainable backcasting’, ‘causal layered analysis’ (CLA), and ‘responsible innovation’.

The first one is a foresight methodology aimed at developing a so-called ‘normative vision of the future’ that reflects a future that someone wishes for. Such a vision is not primarily aimed at imaging a realistic vision but it is exactly the wishfulness of it that can make explicit what needs to be done (in the present) to make it realistic. CLA is more analytic and is aimed at uncovering the assumptions people have about the future thereby strengthening the quality of their (normative) vision of the future. Responsible innovation states that innovation processes should be designed in its early stage in such a way that it can be expected that the final outcome of the innovation process is contributing to a more ‘responsible society’ in terms of social wellbeing and sustainability. Instead of waiting for the final result of an innovation process and hoping that it will do good to us, responsible innovation claims that we have to design our innovation processes in such a way that social and sustainable considerations are taken into account upfront. Lastly, we use the theories of ‘future consciousness’ and ‘’time perspective’ to test how and to what extent our students are more interested and better equipped to look to the future. Both theories are able to do that on a personal level enabling us to measure individually whether or not our students feel better and are better capable of applying foresight and be prepared for the future.

The results and subsequent impacts of this project are that we educate students that are ready for the drastic changes that are to come. Even more, they will be capable of managing those changes in a desirable way, improving the lives of many and making our world more sustainable.

Project duration: 01/09/2018 – 31/08/2021 (36 months)

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