150 Great Foresight Books (GFB’s)
UAT's Undergraduate Foresight Development Course (TCH110)
Your basic Futurist's Library. Great works in Foresight Methods, Models, Compendia, and Topical Areas. Each is overviewed, handed around, and briefly discussed in class, ten per week. All GFBs are in the UAT Library. Click on links below for Amazon reviews. Several of these links also offer the ability to "Search Inside the Book" through your browser. This is a useful electronic research tool!
Week 1 – Intro to Futures Studies
The Pursuit of Destiny: A History of Prediction, Paul Halpern, 2000.
Great book on the success and failures of “prediction science.”
Thinking About the Future: Guidelines for Strategic Foresight, Hines & Bishop, 2007
Great practical text on how organizations can prepare for the future. 36 contributors.
Advancing Futures: Futures Studies in Higher Education, James Dator, Ed., 2002.
History, courses, methods, concerns, and issues of teaching futures. 19 contributors.
A Brief History of Tomorrow: The Future Past and Present, Jonathan Margolis, 2001
Insightful and witty, “novel type” read on the wild and wooly field of futuring.
Contemporary Futurist Thought: Sci-Fi and Futures Studies, Thomas Lombardo, 2006
Good survey of the range and value of futures thinking by a futures studies professor.
Rescuing All Our Futures: The Future of Futures Studies, Ziauddin Sardar, Ed., 1999
18 futurists stress the need for non-Western cultures and concerns in futures.
Yesterday’s Tomorrows: Past Visions of the American Future, Joseph J. Corn, 1984
Beautiful pics of U.S. future images, discussion of the benefits and limits of visioning.
TechTV’s Catalog of Tomorrow: Trends Shaping Your Future, Andrew Zolli, Ed., 2003
100 fun two-page essays on trends and tech, looking out 5-20 years. 44 contributors.
MacMillan Atlas of the Future: 21st Century and Beyond, Ian Pearson, Ed., 1998
Maps and graphics popularizing future trends and issues for humanity. 25 contributors.
The Gaia Atlas of Future Worlds: Challenge and Opportunity, Norman Myers, 1990
Pretty atlas of trends, issues in global sustainability. Old enough do prediction-checking.
Week 2 – Evolution, Development, and the Future of Science
Decoding the Universe: The New Science of Information, Charles Siefe, 2006
Information physics is relating brains to black holes, and predicting the multiverse.
Astrobiology: A Beginners Guide, Lewis Dartnell, 2007
Intro to the new science of astrobiology: how special planets create life, on Earth and elsewhere.
Biocosm: A New Scientific Theory of Evolution, James Gardner, 2003
Argues our universe has many of the features of a biological system, and had an "intelligent" start.
The Privileged Planet: Our Anthropic Place in the Cosmos, Gonzalez and Richards, 2004
Argues that Earth is in a "special" place in the cosmos. Observer bias? How would you test this?
Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo, Scott Carroll, 2006
Great intro to biological evo devo: how evolution and development interact in organisms.
Life’s Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe, Simon Conway-Morris, 2003
Great intro to universal evo devo: how evolution leads to "convergent evolution" in Universe.
The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation, Matt Ridley, 1998
Shortoverview of how societies build cooperation and morality through collaboration.
The Next 50 Years: Science in the First Half of the 21st Century, John Brockman, Ed., 2002
25 essays on the future of the Cosmos, Math, Neurosci, Bio, Culture, Morality, and Prediction.
The End of Science: Facing the Limits of the [Human-Only] Scientific Age, John Horgan, 1997
Controversial, fascinating arguments that science is running into human limits. Will AI's do better?
The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, Carl Sagan, 1997
A call to scientific and "evidence-based" thinking to help solve humanity's problems.
Week 3 – Accelerating Change and the Future of Technology, Part I
Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History, David Christian, 2004
Good overview of the "Big Picture" of accelerating change, from a universal perspective.
Society and Technological Change, 5th. Ed., Rudi Volti, 2005
Good STS textbook on the impact of technological change on society in many ways and over centuries.
The Change Function: Why Some Technol. Take Off & Others Crash, Pip Coburn, 2006
Why people don't try new things until the perceived benefits outweigh the pain of change.
The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intell., Ray Kurzweil, 2000
Great insights on tech acceleration. Proposes that human-intell. computers will arrive by mid-century.
Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing, Adam Greenfield, 2006
Explains how computers are becoming miniaturized, interconnected, and embedded everywhere.
Nanotechnology: Science, Innovation, and Opportunity, Lynn Foster, Ed., 2005
Great introduction to the many opportunities and challenges of nanotech for humans and the world.
Hacking Matter: The Infinite Weirdness of Programmable Atoms, Wil McCarthy, 2004
A sometimes-crazy romp through the really powerful, really weird world of "Inner Space."
Radical Evolution: The Promise and Peril of Human Enhancement, Joel Garreau, 2006
Outlines three key social paths for the future of GRIN (Genetics, Robotics, Info, Nano) technologies.
Intervention: The Real Risks of Genetic Engineering and Biotech, Denise Caruso, 2006
Good exploration of the risks of biotech, and the social values that limit its adoption.
Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age, Bill McKibben, 2004
A strong call for preserving human values, identity, and culture in our rapid technological age.
Week 4 – Accelerating Change and Future of Technology, Part II
Metaman: The Merging of Humans and Machines into a Global Superorg., Greg Stock, 1993
A very good book on human-machine symbiosis, written from a biological perspective.
Visions of Technology: A Century of Debate about Machines, Richard Rhodes, 2000
Vignettes on the social impact of 20th century tech change, by an emininent historian.
Technology Matters: Questions to Live With, David Nye, 2006
Key Q's about tech: Is it predictable? Does it control us? How does it change work? Culture?
Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology, Neil Postman, 1993
Great exposition of the ways technology weakens society, and ideas on how to fight back.
Technology and the Future, Albert Teich, 10th Ed, AAAS, 2005
Good range of mostly conservative views on tech futures and social responses.
Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games, Edward Castronova, 2006
Social and economic trends in VWs, games, and the coming Metaverse economy.
Deception: Pakistan, the US and Nuclear Weapons Proliferation, Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007
WMDs are a major problem. US policy short-sightedness has proliferated nuke tech globally.
The Long Emergency: Surviving the Catastrophes of the 21st Century, James Kunstler, 2006
Doomsaying that peak oil and climate change can't be fixed fast enough to prevent collapse.
The Bottomless Well: Why We Will Never Run out of Energy, Huber and Mills, 2006
Techno-optimist, utopian ideas that new tech and free markets solve all energy problems.
The Two Faces of Tomorrow, James Hogan, Yukinobu Hoshino, 2006
Fictional account of one of the great questions of 21C tech: How do we trust the coming AI?
Week 5 – Global Trends, Scenarios, and Models
Global Trends 2015: A Dialog About the Future, CIA, 2005
Excellent, concise, CIA-compiled database of important global trends and implications.
Modernization, Cultural Change, & Democracy: Values & Devel., Ronald Inglehart, 2005
Summary of 40 years of research showing how development creates a common set of values.
The Transparent Society: Technology, Privacy and Freedom, David Brin, 1999
Balanced treatment of the upsides and downsides of our accelerating global transparency.
Which World?: Scenarios for the 21st Century, Allen Hammond, 1998
Three institutions look out to 2050 and paint three different scenarios for the global future.
The Global Technology Revolution 2020: Executive Summary, RAND, 2006
Great overview of trends, challenges, and options in nano, bio and info technologies.
Shell Global Scenarios to 2025, Jeroen van der Veer, 2005
Energy, resources, economic, and political scenarios from Shell, a leading scenario developer.
Exploring and Shaping International Futures, Barry Hughes, 2006
Modeling system for International Futures. Good in general, but not sufficiently technology-aware.
The State of the World 2007, Worldwatch Institute, 2007
Annual report on the state of the world from environment to human rights. Sustainability focused.
The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the State of the World, Bjorn Lomborg, 2001
A critical look at claims that our global environment is falling apart. Evidence for optimism.
Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny, Robert Wright, 2001
Makes the case that non-zero sum (positive sum) interactions drive much of human activity.
Week 6 – Global Problems and Priorities
Mapping the Global Future: The National Intelligence Council’s 2020 Project, NIC, 2005
Great brief illustrated summary of future global scenarios, from the National Intelligence Council.
From Third World to First, The Singapore Story: 1965-2000, Lee Kuan Yew, 2000
How "authoritarian capitalism" enabled rapid economic development. A model for others?
Environment: An Introductory Textbook, 5th Edition, Peter Raven, 2005
College textbook on our natural environment, a complex system we still don't understand well.
Wilson's Ghost: Reducing Conflict and Catastrophe in 21C, McNamara & Blight, 2001
Brilliant book on the global context enabling the9/11 attacks, and future US policy options.
Human Development Report 2006: Beyond Scarcity, UNDP, 2006
Goals and progress in global development per the United Nations Development Program.
How to Spend $50 Billion to Make the World a Better Place, Bjorn Lomborg, 2006
Priorities for global development from Lomborg's "Copenhagen Consensus."
Worldchanging: A User’s Guide for the 21st Century, Alex Steffen, 2006
Tools and strategies for achieving a "bright, green future." Sustainability and innovation.
Shadow Cities: A Billion Squatters, A New Urban World, Robert Neuwirth, 2006
Issues and futures of the world's rapidly-growing slums, by a journalist who has lived in them.
The End of Poverty, Economic Possibilities for Our Time, Jeffrey Sachs, 2006
Proposes new levels of political, corporate, and individual participation in global development.
The White Man’s Burden: Why Western Aid Has Done So Little Good, Bill Easterly, 2007
Shows how we hurt the developing world in trying to aid them, and the difficulty of the problem.
Week 7 – Economics and the Future of Capitalism
Good Capitalism, Bad Capitalism, & Econ of Prosperity, William Baumol, 2007
Explains the four major types of capitalism. Only one, entrepreneurial capitalism, is ideal.
The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization, Thomas Friedman, 1999
Great intro to accel. globalization and its new-world vs. old-world tensions. Written before 9/11.
One Nation, Underprivileged, Mark Robert Rank, 2005
Huge social costs of undereducating and underemploying American poor and immigrants.
China Shakes the World: The Challenge for America, James Kynge, 2006
Explores future impacts of Chinese economic, political, and social power on the world &the US.
Three Billion New Capitalists: Great Shift of Wealth & Power East, Clyde Prestowitz, 2006
Issues of integrating a growing, Networked Asia (China, India, SE Asia) into global economy.
Information Rules: A Guide to the Network Economy, Shapiro and Varian, 1998
Good overview of the economic, info, and social changes in the Network Society.
Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution, Hawken and Lovins, 2000
Eloquent call for a future of sustainable economics and green business: natural capitalism.
Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and World Poverty, Muhammad Yunus, 2003
By the Nobel-winning founder of Grameen Bank, pioneers of microcredit for the poor.
The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: End Poverty Thru Profits, C.K. Prahalad, 2006
Opportunities in Bottom of Pyramid (BoP) capitalism, from microcredit to microconsumption.
The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power, Joel Bakan, 2005
Considers weaknesses of the modern corporate structure and possibilities for reform.
Week 8 – Politics and the Future of Security and Democracy
Lies My Teacher Told Me: What Your History Textbook Got Wrong, James Loewen, 2007
Brilliant critique of the "feel good myths" we learn in history class, and ideas for change.
The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad, Fareed Zakaria, 2007
Explores the limits and weaknesses of democracy and the many ways it can become illiberal.
The American Anomaly: U.S. in Comparative Perspective, Raymond Smith, 2007
Explains why, constitutionally, the U.S. is less democratic than other leading industrial nations.
America (The Book) Teacher’s Ed: A Guide to Democracy Inaction, Jon Stewart, 2006
Hilarious intro to American history and political democracy, warts and all. Comedy Central.
Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich, Kevin Phillips, 2003
Why the rich are not conservatives (low government) but plutocrats (use govt to their advantage).
The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Samuel Huntington, 1998
Analyzes the world as a set of eight cultures increasingly conflicting over religion and dogma.
Lucifer Principle: An Expedition into the Forces of History, Howard Bloom, 1997
Argues well that evil (lying, violence, etc.) plays an essential social and biological role.
A Force More Powerful: A Century of Nonviolent Conflict, Ackerman and Duvall, 2001
Chronicles the rising power of nonviolent mass resistance to remove or reform governments.
The Pentagon’s New Map: War and Peace in the 21st Century, Thomas Barnett, 2005
Combating disconnectedness (tech, econ, & cultural) as a key U.S. global security strategy.
Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know?, Philip Tetlock, 2005
Great study of the repeating patterns, biases, and limits of political (and other) prediction.
Week 9 – Culture, Media and Education in a Network Society
The First Measured Century: Trends in America, 1900-2000, Theodore Caplow et. al., 2000
One hundred years of social and economic trends, with graphics and engaging commentary.
The Rise of the Image, the Fall of the Word, Mitchell Stephens, 1998
Charts the rise of moving images and decline of the printed word, and some implications.
Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, Robert Putnam, 2001
Great stats on the 50-year deterioration of U.S. social life, with some ideas for solutions.
The Future of Media: Resistance and Reform in the 21st Century, Robert McChesney, 2005
Great articles on massive media centralization and corporatization, and proposals for reform.
The Future of Ideas: The Nature of The Commons in a Connected World, Larry Lessig, 2002
How large corporations are stifling public innovation and privatizing our online information commons.
The Future and Its Enemies, Virginia Postrel, 1998
The politics of change, and conflicts over creativity, enterprise, and progress.
Cuture Jam: Reversing America’s Suicidal Consumer Binge, Calle Lasn, 2000.
The power and addictions of brands, conformity, and overconsumption in a global corporate age.
Declining By Degrees: Higher Education at Risk, Richard Hersh et. al., 2006
Documents the retreat from challenging and affordable higher ed as a 20th century "social contract."
Infotopia: How Many Minds Produce Knowledge, Cass Sunstein, 2006
How free and open online information, aggregation, and markets are accelerating global knowledge.
The Fourth Turning: Cycles of History and America’s Destiny, Strauss and Howe, 1997
Historical generational (cycle) theory that the US is "on the verge of crisis." We shall see.
Week 10 – Biz-Org Leadership, Innovation, Learning, and Predicting
Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't, Jim Collins, 2001
Careful research featuring 11 big companies that manage to greatly improve, year after year.
Diffusion of Innovations, 5th Edition, Everett Rogers, 2003
The classic text on innovation diffusion, how new ideas and tech spread into a culture, or don't.
The Innovator’s Dilemma, Clay Christensen, 2003
Why Big Co's slow down market (and their own) innovation, and how "disruptive innovation" works.
The Art of the Start: A Guide for Anyone Starting Anything, Guy Kawasaki, 2004
Great advice on planning, raising money, hiring, and other issues of starting any business project.
The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many are Smarter than the Few, James Surowiecki, 2005
How groups can beat their best individuals for cognition, coordination, and cooperation.
The Fifth Discipline: The Art of the Learning Organization, Peter Senge, 2006
How to build continual learning, "the only sustainable competitive advantage," into any org.
The Difference: How Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, & Societies, Scott Page, 2007
Why cognitive and experience diversity on your team beats groups of like-minded experts.
Scenarios: The Art of Strategic Conversation, Kees van der Heijden, 2005
How to use the futures tool of scenario planning (possible futures) to improve business strategy.
Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk, Peter Bernstein, 1998
Quant. probability has led to econometrics, insurance, forecasting, and better foresight.
Supercrunchers: How Anything Can Be Predicted, Ian Ayres, 2007
The growth of detailed data sets lets analysts make previously impossible predictions.
Week 11 – Biz-Org Planning, Consensus-Building, Benefiting, and Metrics
Get There Early: Sensing the Future to Compete in the Present, Bob Johansen, 2007
Practical ways for orgs to develop a "future sense" and improve their plans and strategy.
Out of Control: Machines, Social Systems, and the Economic World, Kevin Kelly, 1995
How our connected and complex world can be understood as a biological, evolving system.
Inevitable Surprises: A Survival Guide for the 21st Century, Peter Schwartz, 2004
A leading futurist uses scenario planning to explore both the expected and unpredictable future.
Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything, Don Tapscott, 2006
The economic and social benefits of global online collaboration for people and companies.
Hard Facts, Half-Truths, & Total Nonsense: Evidence-Based Mgmt, Pfeffer & Sutton, 2006
How to analyze business management practices using surveys, science, and evidence.
Future Hype: The Myths of Technology Change, Bob Seidensticker, 2006
Argues well against the idea that technology change is particularly fast or important today.
Megamistakes: Forecasting and the Myth of Rapid Tech Change, Steven Schnaars, 1989
Collection of bad forecasts by think tanks, researchers, and politicians, w/ recommendations.
Inviting Disaster: Lessons from the Edge of Technology, James Chiles, 2002
50 famous catastrophes, and ways that they could have been prevented with better systems.
Future Search: Finding Common Ground in Orgs & Communities, Marvin Weisbord, 2000
A future search conference helps organizational stakeholders work to chart a better future.
Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, William McDonough, 2002
Using industrial design to greatly improve sustainability and "eco-effectiveness" in our world.
Week 12 – Personal and Career Creativity and Visioning
Natural Born Cyborgs: Minds, Technologies, and the Future of Intelligence, Andy Clark, 2004
Why you are already a "cyborg" and will get even more intimately connected to all your tech.
The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, John Maxwell, 2007
Qualities and habits that make you the kind of person whose ideas others want to follow.
Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind: Intelligence Increases When You Think Less, Guy Claxton, 2000
Cog science says logic and reason aren't enough. We need slow, intuitive, nonlinear thinking too.
Authentic Happiness: Positive Psychology and Your Potential, Martin Seligman, 2002
From the founder of science of positive psychology (how to thrive, love, and be happy).
Finding Flow: Psych. of Engagement with Everyday Life, Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, 1998
Proven tips on creating flow: a psychological state of ease, focus, happiness, and productivity.
Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudosci. and Superstitions, Michael Shermer, 2002
Covers our modern superstitions. Shows the value of skepticism and evidence-based thinking.
When Prophecy Never Fails: Myth and Reality in a UFO Group, Diane Tumminia, 2005
Great expose of how wishful thinking causes us to deny reality. We all do this to some extent.
No Logo: No Space, No Choice, No Jobs, Naomi Klein, 2002
Brands increasingly dominate public life, narrow our choices and our thinking. Tips on resisting.
50 Facts That Should Change the World, Jessica Williams, 2004
Some fascinating stats, many addressable by technology. Which ones will we deal with?
Fifty-Two Simple Ways to Make a Difference, Paul Simon, 2004
Small things are really the big things, in the end. Some powerful ways to be a better person.
Week 13 – Personal and Career Learning and Predicting
Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance, K. Anders Ericsson, 2006
"Natural" talent is highly overrated. Experts are nearly always made, not born. Anyone can be one.
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey, 2004
Each habit can take years to master, but becoming an expert in these is a key to personal power.
Our Inner Ape: A Leading Primatologist Explains Who We Are, Frans De Waal, 2006
Human nature is a blend of chimpanzee and bonobo, of competition and cooperation. Stay blended.
Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships, Daniel Goleman, 2007
How the choice, care, and feeding of our relationships determines our intelligence.
The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil, Philip Zimbardo, 2007
How situations, environments, can change our ethics. Why our environment matters.
The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out as They Do, Judith Rich Harris, 1998
Shows the huge effect of our peer groups on our success in life. Choose your friends wisely!
Hold on to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More than Peers, Neufeld and Mate, 2006
Peer attachment in 1st world cultures squelches individuality, creativity, intelligence. How to fix that.
Building a Bridge to the 18th Century: How the Past Helps the Future, Neil Postman, 2000
Bringing Enlightenment values (intellection, history, logic, rhetoric) back into the 21st century.
The Pathfinder: How to Choose or Change Your Career, Nicholas Lore, 1998
Through goalsetting, list making, and other techniques, find your ideal career and make it happen.
Do What You Are: Discover Your Career thru Personality Type, Paul &Barbara Tieger, 2001
Using personality profiling to find industries, careers, and occupations that match your strengths.
Week 14 – Personal and Career Planning and Negotiating
Everything's an Argument - With Readings, Andrea Lunsford et. al., 2006
An excellent and visual introduction to argument and rhetoric, foundational skills for all of us.
Thinking in Time: The Uses of History for Decision Makers, Richard Neustadt, 1986
How to best use historical knowledge to improve decision making. A classic.
How We Know What Isn’t So: The Fallibility of Reason in Life, Thomas Gilovich, 1993
The limits of logic and psychology in understanding our complex, evolutionarily contingent world.
Smart Choices: A Practical Guide to Making Better Decisions, John Hammond, 2002
Systematic approaches to making better-considered choices. Lots of great case examples.
The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less, Barry Schwartz, 2005
Explains how overanalysis and abundance can rob us of flexibility and satisfaction.
How Full is Your Bucket: Positive Strategies for Work and Life, Rath and Clifton, 2007
Explores the foundation of social intelligence: creating positive social interactions.
Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, Roger Fisher, 1991
Very readable text on achieving win-win negotiations in workplace and home.
Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most, Douglas Stone, 2000
When we put off the most important conversations, everyone suffers. How to fix that.
What You Can Change & What You Can’t: A Guide to Self Improvmt, Martin Seligman, 2007
Common psychological disorders and how to self-treat them. Practical personal psychology.
Never Eat Alone: Success, One Relationship at a Time, Keith Ferrazzi, 2005
The importance of defining who you are, trusting others, and networking for a clear objective.
Week 15 – Personal and Career Benefiting and Measuring
One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way, Robert Maurer, 2004
How to face fears that block change, by making small, measurable steps in the right direction.
The Resilience Factor: 7 Keys to Inner Strength, Karen Reivich, 2003
A key empowering habit of mind. How to keep perspective, not overreact, and bounce back.
The Survivor Personality: How to Get Better at Handling Adversity, Al Siebert, 1996
Some crumble under pressure and others get stronger. How to get better at the latter option.
The Power of Full Engagement: A Personal Energy Management System, Tony Schwartz, 2004
Skill at energy management complements time, space, money, knowledge, and process mgmt.
Fooled by Randomness: The Role of Chance in Life and Markets, Nassim Taleb, 2005
Humans are pattern recognizers. We often see pattern where none exists. How to minimize that.
The Seven Stages of Money Maturity, George Kinder, 2000
Stages of psych development in relation to money. Which are you presently "in"? Brilliant book.
The Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing, Benjamin Graham, 2003
The classic in value investing. A book for true investors, foresighted people with long-term plans.
Socially Responsible Investing: Making a Difference & Making Money, Amy Domini, 2000
How to put your money where your values are. Investing as a way to improve the world.
Journal to the Self: Twenty-Two Paths to Personal Growth, Kathleen Adams, 1990
Well-regarded book on personal journaling as a tool for self-understanding and personal mastery.
CrazyBusy: Strategies For Handling Your Fast-Paced Life, Edward Hallowell, 2006
How to manage culturally induced ADD, 24/7 accessibility, and modern expectations.