School of International Futures

Strategic foresight Retreats

At SOIF retreats, you will learn about strategic foresight approaches and techniques from world-renowned experts who provide you with practical tools that are ready to use as soon as you leave.

Mixing with representatives of foreign ministries, international institutions, think tanks and leading corporations, you will share perspectives and ways of thinking about the future, while building relationships in an atmosphere of openness and collaboration.


By attending a retreat you will:

  • Be able to think differently – and confidently – about the future
  • Better understand the consequences of trends and disruptive change for the success or failure of decisions you make today
  • Learn strategic foresight techniques and tools to understand, prepare for and shape the future of your organisation

  • Gain insights into trends and disrupting factors in demography, technology, values and beliefs, geopolitics, the environment and the economy
  • Become an intelligent user and commissioner of strategic foresight

Our Summer retreats are run in the UK one-hour from London. These part-courses, part-conferences were inaugurated in August 2012, and are now an annual fixture.


Regional retreats are a new initiative for SOIF. Our first retreat, Asia Pacific@Hawaii Futures, saw 26 participants and speakers join us in April 2014. If you would be interested in joining a regional retreat, or want to find out more please contact us


Feedback on the SOIF Summer retreats:


“I wanted to thank you once again for the your expert facilitation of SOIF and for bringing together a fantastic set of speakers, faculty and participants. It was a great learning experience for me and I also established some useful contacts which I am now pursuing and which promise to lead to exciting collaborations.”


“Never attended such a good programme; appreciated speakers who stay for the whole event.”


“Excellent participants and speakers covering multiple disciplines.”


“Excellent materials and insights provided, including practical expertise.”


“A good insight into the futures business.”


And the best feedback of all: four follow-on engagements commissioned by participants at the Summer retreats.

Join us this August for SOIF 2015

Learn more

Every retreat is different, but to get a sense of what to expect watch our video.

SOIF2015. 10-14 August 2015

The School of International Futures flagship retreat returns for its fourth successive year, from 10-14 August 2015.

Join us to learn how to plan for and respond to future challenges and opportunities in an increasingly complex and uncertain world.

This exclusive retreat will explore the implications of future trends and shocks for today’s policy choices, and help you understand how to use foresight methods and processes both to shape the future of your organisation and to make a difference in the world.

During the 5-day retreat, alongside tutorials on foresight techniques, we will examine – and challenge – the idea of a “ring of instability” around Europe, created by geopolitical, security and religious tensions running through Eastern Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East. We will also explore the tension between “urgency and patience” in policy- and decision-making.

Concept noteProgramme

Past retreats


The School of International Futures ran its third annual residential retreat on the theme of strategic foresight at Wilton Park, Britain’s foremost global policy centre, from Monday 11 August to Friday 15th August 2014.

For a sense of the retreat read our storify post.

IMG_0023Speakers included:

  • Dave Snowden, complexity guru and inventor of the Cynefin framework;
  • Mat Burrows, principal author of the US National Intelligence Council Global Trends 2030 and director of the Atlantic Council’s Strategic Foresight Initiative;
  • Betty Sue Flowers, poet and scenario planning expert, author of the “Power of Myth” and “Presence: Human Purpose and the Field for the Future”; and
  • Rosemarie Forsythe, formerly US White House Adviser and Exxon International Political Strategy Director.


Feedback on SOIF 2014:

“I’ve rarely spent a week in such interesting and stimulating company from such a variety of backgrounds- and when you throw the wonderful Wilton Park into the mix it just gets even better!”


“Deeply participative; safe space for discussion”


“Quality of instruction and key note/panel discussions was superb! Really excellent!”


“The utility of networking and gaining first hand insight into a variety of different organisations, both in the private and public sector, was invaluable.”


“Great forum for the exchange of ideas- the diversity of participant backgrounds really helps”

Asia Pacific@Hawaii Futures

Run in partnership with the Hawaii Centre for Future Studies, the retreat combined the Manoa School Method of foresight with the SOIF Learning journey to deliver a unique mix of analytic intelligence and creative 2

Speakers at the inaugural event included

  • Dr. Jim Dator Director, Hawaii Research Center for Futures Studies;
  • Ms Jill Wong Director of the Strategic Policy Office in the Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore;
  • Dr. Jong Guk Song President of the Science and Technology Policy Institute, Republic of Korea;
  • Dr. Sohail Inayatullah Professor, Graduate Institute of Futures Studies, Tamkang University;
  • Kalei Stern Director of the Omidyar Fellows Program;
  • Rob Ricigiano Director of Institute of World Affairs, and the Peace Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and
  • David Roberts Vice-President, Singularity University.

During the retreat, SOIF and HRCFS faculty and visiting speakers provided participants with insights into local, regional and global challenges and opportunities for Asia Pacific, and techniques and tools to understand, prepare for and shape the future.

Feedback on Asia Pacific@Hawaii Futures:

“Highly stimulating discussions with a lot of very experienced, interesting and clever people from many cultures and fields.  A huge amount of work had gone into the preparation of the workshop and its materials, and generous sharing of them with us.”

“The exercises were interesting/entertaining/illuminating/useful…Excellent human dynamics in the workshop as a whole, enabling priceless network building and learning from others. Very imaginative, experiential games”

“I think the sessions were spectacular, scoping all the way to the policy creation.”

“Personal, open, friendly forums.  A great group of participants.”


Speakers at the 2013 Summer retreat included:

W10335Mathew Burrows was the principal drafter of the last two Global Trends reports published by the US National Intelligence Council, where he was Counsellor and Director of Analysis and Production Staff. The most recent of these, Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds, was published in November 2012 based on an extensive set of meetings and seminars with international governments, businesses and NGOs over the preceding two years. The report has been translated into several languages and is probably the single most influential global trends/scenarios publication worldwide.


Leon-FuerthLeon Fuerth is the Director of the Project on Forward Engagement, Research Professor of International Affairs at the George Washington University’s Institute for Global and International Studies, and former National Security Advisor to Vice President Al Gore. Recently Mr. Fuerth has extended his Forward Engagement project by adding the concept of “Anticipatory Governance”: an operational system linking advanced foresight processes, networked policy machinery in government, and a feedback mechanism to harvest and apply the lessons of experience, as set out in the report Anticipatory Governance: Practical Upgrades (October 2012) and endorsed by leading figures from the worlds of government and foresight.


During the course of the week, the School’s founders, visiting speakers and faculty provided an analysis of global trends, gave an idea of how these impact today’s policy choices, and provided participants with tools and techniques they could deploy to make a difference in their own organisations.

Speakers at the inaugural event included:


  • Anne-Marie Slaughter, Hillary Clinton’s first head of Policy Planning and author of Why Women Still Can’t Have it All;
  • Magnus Djaba, CEO Saatchi & Saatchi London;
  • David Gordon, Head of Global Macro Analysis at Eurasia Group;
  • Lord Peter Hennessy, author and professor of contemporary history at Queen Mary, University of London;

  • Michael Oppenheimer, Clinical Professor, Center for Global Affairs, New York University;
  • Mansoor Dailami, Lead author of the first World Bank Global Development Horizons 2011 and Manager of Emerging Global Trends Team;
  • Ben Hammersley, Editor-at-Large of Wired magazine and author of 64 Things You Need to Know Now for Then and
  • Peter Apps, political risk correspondent for Reuters News.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: