Shaping Our Future

What Is Shaping Our Future?

The Foundation for Our Future, the Center for a Sustainable Future and Shelburne Farms joined together to initiate a program for young adult leadership called Shaping Our Future.

Our findings, from over a decade of working with young adults in the area of environmental and sustainable education, pointed to some alarming observations. Young adults spend little time thinking about the future. Polls have shown that average teenagers future time reference typically ranges from hours to at best a couple of months.

We began to consider these findings with respect to the work we have been doing for over two decades - educating for a sustainable future. We came to the conclusion that the majority of young adults do not have the context (in terms of a future time frame of reference) to meaningfully engage in action that this educational paradigm strives to stimulate. That revelation brought us to the world of strategic planners in multi-national corporations to learn about the tools they use to stretch their thinking and envision the future.

Scenarios are imaginative portrayals of potential futures, where the process is as important as the pictures they help develop. Young adults are engaged in deep conversations, at once free-flowing and rigorously constrained. These conversations are designed to help young story tellers see past their own cultural blind spots, and to think the unthinkable.

Over the past several years we have been developing and piloting a set of methodologies and tools to help young adults visualize the possible worlds in which the unthinkable, the unimaginable, and the unpredictable actually come to pass. We have packaged this process into a program called Shaping Our Future, which will be distributed to many regions around the globe.

If a generation of young adults can imagine many possible worlds, then they can better prepare themselves for whatever future does come to pass. As they engage in this process of confronting their future, they can become enthusiastic about to shape a future that will mesh with their hopes and dreams.

It is our intention that corporations, civic organizations, schools, institutions of higher education and governmental organizations around the globe champion the notion of Shaping Our Future, by providing leadership in their communities that will help their young adults proactively embrace and engage in their futures in positive and constructive ways.

Shaping Our Future Facilitator's Toolkit