Visioning and Future Studies | Elise Boulding

Elise Boulding, Julian Portilla; Visioning and Future Studies; In Some Blog entitled Beyond Intractability, circa 2003. → visioning.
tl;dr → an audio interview, with transcript, 720 words.

Elise Boulding
  • 1920-07-06→2010-06-24
  • Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Dartmouth College
  • Former Secretary General of the International Peace Research Association


  • Fred Polak, is referenced; and noted.
  • <quote>[Fred Polak's] thesis was that societies that have positive images of the future are empowered by their own images to act creatively in the present. Societies that have negative images will just wither away. Of course, there are many cases in between.</quote>, attributed to Elise Boulding, from the essay.
  • <quote>What exists is possible</quote>, attributed to Kenneth Boulding.
  • Interest in <quote>how people picture the possibilities in their society and in the world</quote>, attributed to Elise Boulding, from the essay.
  • Therefore, one must replace what is and has been possible with the notional fantastic future.


The 200-year present:

  • began 100 years ago,
  • ends 100 years from now.

Also generational theory has these same concepts.

The Imaging Workshops

  1. Instruction
    • Hypothesize the subjects 30 years into the future.
    • Give the subjects help with how their imaginations worked
  2. Activity: imagine
    • Scope: a world in which [a salubrious goal] had already been achieved.
    • Perform
      • imagining,
      • sharing.
    • Achieve:
      The subjects have a shared imaginary vision of the fantastic future.
  3. Activity: construct
    The history (a history) of the time-line backward to the present.
  4. Activity: decide
    • The subjects enroll into committed action.
    • Testification
      • written
      • speoken
  • A student of Elise Boulding [Who?]
  • Some research.
  • Questionaires re-administered over time.
  • Subjects changed their minds, changed their thinking.


<quote>What exists is possible</quote>, attributed to Kenneth Boulding

<quote>What it means is that any peaceful segment or any group that has dealt with and gotten through really difficult conflicts and done it successfully, like a family or a community or a country — if it happened, then it is possible. </quote>

Thus it is applicable to civil society and civil society trajectory. Avoids “history is written by winners” because there is no survivorship bias in civil society; all participants continue forward into the memorialized future.

Comments are closed.