The educator helps learners to explore alternative possibilities for the future and to use these to consider how behaviours might need to change.

Learning Outcomes

The educator helps learners to:

Underpinning Components for the educator

In order to achieve the above Learning Outcomes the educator should be able to:

Example activities for teaching Futures

1 Celebrations and concerns
  • Suggested duration: 20 mins
  • Technique used: Cumulative brainstorm
  • Materials required: Flipchart paper and marker pens
  • Aim of activity: To help students reflect on the current state of the world and how we got here
  • Underpinning components: UC5.2a; UC5.3b
  • Connection with other competences: 

Short description

Small group activity. Half of the groups write ‘Good things about the world as I see it’ the other ‘Concerns about the world as I see it’ in the middle of their sheets and then brainstorm and write on their sheets things that come to mind. Groups then swap sheets and see if they agree with comments made and if they have anything else to add. Plenary discuss the sorts of things that came up, feelings, commonalities, differences and to make the point that sometimes the things that people like are other people’s concerns. Take one example as a whole group and discuss how that came about.

2 My vision of the future
  • Suggested duration: 30-40 mins
  • Technique used: Discussion
  • Materials required: Script to read, flipchart paper and marker pens
  • Aim of activity: To help students imagine positive alternative sustainable futures
  • Underpinning components: UC 5.1a; UC5.1b
  • Connection with other competences: Attentiveness; Action; Creativity

Short description

Close your eyes and sit in silence – relax. Now listen for 10-15 minutes while someone asks you to imagine yourself in 30 years time but imagine it is a positive future. Tell the class/group that they should think of themselves as the age that they are today but the year is 20xx. Now, with a series of pre-planned statements and questions, take them through the process of waking up, asking details about what their bed is like, what they have for breakfast, the clothes they wear (and where they bought them). Ask them to think about the work they might be doing or the school they might be attending; what job might they hope to do? How do they travel? How do they talk to friends and connect with family? What are they planning to do that evening? Allow plenty of long pauses between each question so people have time to imagine the details and think about how it feels, sounds, tastes, smells. After a final long pause ask the group to open their eyes and share with their neighbour or small group, the things they imagined or envisioned. Give each pair/small group a sheet of flip-chart paper and marker pens and ask them to illustrate their ideas so they can share with the wider group. After sharing and now back in pairs/groups, think about the first steps that you will need to take in order to start the journey towards that positive future.

NB This can be a very emotional experience for some people. Be sensitive to the impact it can have and be sure that everyone has the support they need when they 'come back' to the present.

3 Timeline activity
  • Suggested duration: 15 mins
  • Technique used: Futures projection
  • Materials required: Post-it notes and flipchart paper 
  • Aim of activity: To encourage students to think about how things might evolve in the future
  • Underpinning components: UC5.1b; UC5.3a
  • Connection with other competences: Attentiveness; Systems

Short description

Using post it notes, students jot down ideas for things that might occur in the future with a suggested year and put it on the time line. Plenary discuss projections, why people made them and if they can be categorised into different types of predictions.

4 Problem on my doorstep
  • Suggested duration: 30-40 mins
  • Technique used: Debate
  • Materials required: Handout or script with scenario
  • Aim of activity: Develop decision making skills through collaborative processes in a real context, (that would help learners undrestand the importance of preparing individuals competent to participate and shape our common future).
  • Underpinning components: UC5.2a; UC5.2b
  • Connection with other competences: Action

Short description

Debate: Provide a scenario explaining an existing current problem in your city. The solution will clearly affect the citizens in the future (in terms of economy and nature) and a decision needs to be taken by the city board members. Provide the two alternative solutions to the problem (e.g. road cuts through the park or road goes around the park). Ask the learners to explore how either solution can affect the lives of the citizens, as well as discuss the SD dimensions of each solution. Form groups according to the solution they support and set a debate on which solution should be followed.

5 Under my lense
  • Suggested duration: 40-60 mins
  • Technique used: Role play – integrating jigsaw technique
  • Aim of activity: Develop problem solving skills through collaborative processes in a realistic context, (that would help learners reflect on future consequences and alternative futures).
  • Underpinning components: UC5.3a; UC5.3b
  • Connection with other competences: Attentiveness; Systems; Transdisciplinarity

Short description

Simulation /Role play: Provide a scenario explaining the current situation of an SD problem. Suggest a number of alternative solutions to the problem. Assign roles to the learners and ask them to collaborate following the jigsaw collaborative approach to examine each alternative through the different lenses of the different roles and reach a consensus on the most suitable solution.

Addtional Activities
  • Modelling: Ask learners to discuss a problem and construct a model to show futuristic sustainable solutions to the problem. (e.g. Autonomous flying Microrobots: RoboBees) 
  • Research activity (Exploring the past for a sustainable future / Lessons from the past for a sustainable future). Short description: Identify an SD issue that is of interest to the learners and ask them to explore through literature, the media, and/ or other qualitative research methods the practices followed in the ancient times, in the recent past and nowadays. Finally ask learners to project into future practice and imagine how this practice may change. Discuss the sustainability dimensions of each possible future scenario.
  • Greening of cities (problem solving): How an overpopulated city where only 4m of green corresponds to each citizen, can increase green spaces to 15m2 per citizen which is the recommended space of green for ensuring better quality of life? Elaborate future senarios that present different solutions and how these might be considered from different perspectives. Different techniques and methods that can be used for problem solving include research, simulations, survey, modelling etc.

Example activities for teaching Futures Sustainable Development Goals

Futures SDG1 No poverty

Explore alternative possibilities for the future that might end poverty in all its forms everywhere and use these possibilities to consider how current behaviours might need to change.

Futures SDG2 Zero hunger

Visualise different future scenarios for maintaining a sustainable food supply.

Futures SDG3 Good health and well-being

Envision different scenarios regarding people’s health and wellbeing and understand how the world might change if we implement and disseminate strategies that promote universal health and wellbeing.

Futures SDG4 Quality education

Visualise different future scenarios of how education might look in 50 years from now.

Futures SDG5 Gender equality

Visualise different future scenarios where better gender equality has been achieved.

Futures SDG6 Clean water and sanitation

Identify the links between former ways, actual ways and possible future ways of management and their impact on the water resource. Develop future scenarios for equitable access to water and sustainable management of the resource at different scales.

Futures SDG7 Affordable and clean energy

Envision and reflect on how to build alternative futures regarding energy production and greenhouse gas emissions.

Futures SDG8 Decent work and economic growth

Visualise different economic scenarios, how they might be achieved and how they play out in society.

Futures SDG9 Industry, innovation and infrastructure

Consider how behaviours might need to change in order to build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.

Futures SDG10 Reduced inequalities

Envision ways to reduce inequalities.

Futures SDG11 Sustainable cities and communities

Envision different ways their city/community could become sustainable.

Futures SDG12 Responsible consumption and production

Visualise different future scenarios of how consumer behaviour, production processes and sustainable lifestyles will look like in 50 years from now.

Futures SDG13 Climate action

Visualise different climate change scenarios, analyse their assumptions, consequences and preceding development paths, then reflect on the habits, rules, technologies that need to change for a new planetary equilibrium.

Futures SDG14 Life below water

Identify the links between former ways, actual ways and possible future ways of management and their impact on marine biodiversity. Link different scenarios of climate change and the impact on the marine environment. Develop future scenarios to promote marine biodiversity. 

Futures SDG15 Life on land

Visualise alternative futures that preserve natural habitats in a sustainable way.

Futures SDG16 Peace, justice and strong institutions

Visualise alternative systems that engender justice, representation and a fairer distribution of resource and opportunity.

Useful reading for Futures