Simulation Skills: This is Your Brain on the Future

About Course

Do you want to learn how to simulate the future more creatively and more effectively? This course is for you.

Humans are the only living creatures with the ability to think about and make plans for the long- term future. Even so, our brains don’t always make it easy. Over the past decade, scientists have discovered a number of neurological “road blocks” to effective futures thinking. These glitches in the brain make it harder for us to accurately predict how we’ll feel and what we’re likely to do, when a particular future arrives. They lead us to make faulty assumptions about which futures are likely or unlikely to happen. And they convince us we have less power to shape and influence the future than we actually do – leaving us stuck in the present. In this course, you’ll learn how to overcome these obstacles so you can think about the future more strategically and creatively. You’ll practice simulation techniques for “unsticking” the mind when it comes to seeing what’s possible in the future and accepting how things could be different. You’ll also learn how to lead others through “first-person future” simulations, which have been shown in scientific studies to improve strategy and increase motivation and hope for the future. Along the way, leading futurists from the Institute from the Future will share some of their most challenging forecasts to help you stretch your imagination and improve your simulation skills. This course will ensure that you can put all of your new forecasting skills to the best possible use, by helping you nudge your brain toward more effective ways of simulating and preparing for the future. Many thanks to the Enlight Foundation and the Enlight Collaborative, which provided a grant to support the creation of this course.

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What Will You Learn?

  • This Specialization will introduce you to the practice of futures thinking, as developed and applied for the past 50 years by the Institute for the Future, a Silicon-Valley-based research and learning group founded in 1968.
  • You’ll master essential foresight techniques. You’ll meet leading professional futurists. And you’ll choose one or more future topics you want to investigate with your new foresight skills. The Futures Thinking specialization is for anyone who wants to spot opportunities for innovation and invention faster.
  • You can gain the skills and confidence to help YOU become someone who makes the future, instead of letting the future happen to you. You'll develop a more future-oriented mindset to make positive changes in your own life, as you start to see new possibilities more clearly and craft the personal future you want.
  • This specialization is based on the “How to Think Like a Futurist” workshops taught by Jane McGonigal, PhD for Stanford University Continuing Studies. By taking this specialization, you'll have access to key lessons and tools from the Institute for the Future’s professional “Foresight Training” certification program.

Course Content

Week 1: Introduction to Mental Simulation

  • 1.1 Welcome to the course-survey about the future!
  • 1.2 Welcome to the course! Meet your professor Jane McGonigal(video)
  • 1.3 Introduce yourself!
  • 1.4 Simulation Skills Brief: Your
  • 1.5 What is Mental Simulation?
  • 1.6 What can’t be different in the future?(video)
  • 1.7 What CAN’T be different in the future?

Week 1: Three Simulation Techniques (How to Unstick Your Mind)

Week 1: Neurological Pathways of Simulation

Week 2: First-Person Futures

Week 2: How to Use First-Person Futures

Week 2: What will YOU do with the Internet of Things?

Week 2: First-Person Creativity

Week 3: Alternative Futures

Week 3: The Alternative Futures Tool

Week 3: Alternative Futures for Caregiving

Week 4: Advanced Simulation Topics

Week 4: Simulating Better Worlds with Afrofuturism

Week 4: Full Body Simulation

Week 4: Congratulations! You’re Ready to Simulate the Future

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