Strategic foresight research refers to a range of methods that can be used to identify, analyse and communicate insights about the future. Standard methods include horizon scanning, trend research, and scenario planning. Outputs include emerging issues, trends, visions, scenarios, and wild cards.

Outputs include emerging issues, trends, visions, scenarios, and wild cards. The methods employed and insights produced are used by both private and public sector organisations to inform a wide range of policy, risk, strategy and innovation processes. Foresight research is a truly inter-disciplinary ‘science’, covering and combining developments in society, technology, economy, ecology, politics, legislation and values.

Crucially, foresight research is as much about analysing the past and present, as it is about looking to the future. Once we understand how a system developed and works today, we can explore how it may evolve and look in the future. Strategic foresight techniques consider ranges of possible, plausible futures so that planning can be put in place to adapt to and mitigate against various conditions. It is designed to add resilience, adaptability and flexibility to organisations in an increasingly complex and fast changing world.

This course explores how horizon scanning can act as a method of gathering new insights that may point us towards affirming or discrediting existing trends and developments, as well as identifying new and emerging trends and developments that are on the margins of our current thinking, but which will impact on the future. 

Other foresight methodologies (e.g. scenario planning, visioning, back-casting) can be used to help us to use the trends identified from horizon scanning to identify how the future might develop.

At a glance

  • DurationFive days
  • LocationCranfield campus
  • Cost


What you will learn

On successful completion of this course you should be able to:

  • Explain why organisations engage in foresight research.
  • Describe what foresight research aims to achieve - and what it cannot do.
  • Evaluate the utility and application of different foresight research methodologies.
  • Examine the role of foresight research evidence in the environmental context.
  • Identify and apply the tools of foresight research in the environmental context, and apply foresight research methods to support a convincing case and use foresight research evidence effectively.

Core content

In exploring strategic foresight research in relation to its utility by environmental organisations, this course will combine formal lectures with interactive practical exercises that will cover:

  • An overview of the reasons why organisations engage in foresight research.
  • An overview of the aims and objectives of foresight research.
  • An overview of the different types of foresight research methods including, but not confined to horizon scanning, trend research, scenario building, visioning and back-casting.
  • An overview of where different types of foresight research methods are best applied depending on the issue to be explored, the time available for research and the output required.
  • A practical training exercise in horizon scanning (what is does; why it’s used and how it’s done).
  • A practical training exercise in scenario building (what are scenarios, what they can be used for and how they are developed). 
  • A group project on developing a vision, back-casting and windtunnelling to achieve the desired outputs of the vision (describing a preferred future (the vision) and setting out the steps to make it happen).


Accommodation options and prices

This is a non-residential course. If you would like to book accommodation on campus, please contact Mitchell Hall or Cranfield Management Development Centre directly. Further information regarding our accommodation on campus can be found here.

Alternatively you may wish to make your own arrangements at a nearby hotel.

Location and travel

Cranfield University is situated in Bedfordshire close to the border with Buckinghamshire. The University is located almost midway between the towns of Bedford and Milton Keynes and is conveniently situated between junctions 13 and 14 of the M1.

London Luton, Stansted and Heathrow airports are 30, 90 and 90 minutes respectively by car, offering superb connections to and from just about anywhere in the world. 

For further location and travel details

Location address

Cranfield University
College Road
MK43 0AL

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