Registration for SOIF2017 is now closed. If you are interested in joining us this year please contact us at events@soif.org.uk or call +44 (0)300 302 0486

The School of International Futures flagship event returns for its sixth successive year. The five-day retreat teaches the science and art of Strategic foresight, the skills you need to understand change and disruption and how to create future-ready organisations in an uncertain and increasingly volatile world.


Our retreats provide a unique combination of executive education, insight, and understanding of how to use foresight with impact. By attending you will learn how to take a systematic and imaginative approach to the future, to identify emerging opportunities and threats, build resilience, and critically to connect future insights back to policy and decision-making today.

  • Learn the science of strategic foresight, tools and methods that can be used to make a real difference in your organisation. SOIF’s four stage process for foresight with impact and tools such as horizon scanning, scenario analysis, wind-tunnelling and visioning
  • Appreciate the art of strategic foresight through panel discussions and debates with expert practitioners and leaders who have successfully used foresight to influence decision-making
  • Gain insight into the future of education and skills and how to use “Lean and Agile Foresight”, data and design to build the impact of your foresight work
  • Develop confidence and practical experience in the craft: by working through a “live” policy challenge set by a real policy client during guided practical sessions

You will leave a confident commissioner and intelligent user of futures techniques, with practical ideas for implementing foresight in your organisation.

The Retreat

SOIF is more than a process and set of techniques. Participants share their experience and ideas, and past events have been the starting point for several new collaborations. Taking a long, hard look at the future helps us bring today’s issues into perspective, so that we are better equipped to anticipate change, manage risk and build better futures.

SOIF retreats are a unique mix of executive education and conference designed to make you a confident commissioner and intelligent user of foresight. Throughout the retreat we will introduce you to new concepts, case-studies and tools in our Faculty sessions, build on these with Keynotes and Panel discussions with real-life examples from leaders who have used foresight to achieve change, and provide you practical experience using foresight on a project from a real policy client in the Live Challenge sessions.

We teach a number of foresight tools during the week drivers of change, scenarios and tools for surfacing implications. The toolset is important, but equally we will move beyond these to ensure we are building the structures and processes to build change and communicate the impact of foresight. To achieve this we put the decision-maker and the decision at the heart of the process, and work with participants to build confidence with tools and approaches that support their decision-making process.

Contact and exchange is central to the retreat and we provide space for informal exchange and networking. We will support you to consciously reflect on your own learning throughout the week and build your personal practice of sense-making and actively thinking about the future and to become more comfortable when working with uncertainty.

We Provide:

  • Dynamic learning sessions with world-renowned experts and thought-leaders
  • A systematic approach to understanding global challenges through foresight
  • Training in a range of foresight tools, including drivers of change and scenario development
  • Hands-on practice of techniques, with interventions from practitioners and leaders who have successfully put techniques into practice
  • Lectures, keynote and panel discussions on the use of foresight in policy-making
  • Practical experience working through a Live challenge set by NATO

Themes and Live Challenge

Every foresight retreat is unique – in addition to our focus on strategic foresight we provide you with insights into trends in a specific policy area, new methodology, and practical experience working on a “Live challenge”. This year our themes are:

The future of education and skills. We will take a holistic look at the global trends that will shape the future out to 2060 (with a focus on 2030, the time horizon for the Sustainable Development Goals). What will life look like in a world that has started to deglobalise – with increasingly local design, production and flows of people and goods? How will artificial intelligence, automation and demographic change impact this future? What skills are needed, what do our educational systems look like and how can countries and organisations take advantage of change?

Lean and agile foresight There is a growing interest globally in applying foresight approaches to situations in where there are constrained resources and little time. Companies, governments, local communities, NGOs want to use “agile” and “lean-start-up” approaches to quickly harness insights from foresight into decision-making and operations. Our methodology theme this year will explore role of different tools, principles and approaches. For example, the use of design, collaborative and participative techniques, science and big data, and how to identify, attribute and measure impact.

NATO Live challenge Ahead of the 2018 refresh of the NATO Strategic Concept, we will be joined by Jamie Shea, Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Issues at NATO who will set participants a foresight challenge looking at the emerging issues and opportunities for NATO out to 2030 and how NATO can prepare.


If you’re interested in getting involved in our wider work around these issues then get in touch


This year we be joined by over 15 speakers and faculty – expert commissioners, practitioners and users of foresight, as well as private and public sector policy planning/government leads and experts in futures thinking, design and data.

Confirmed speakers include:

Mads Ecklon Head of Division, Crisis Management Division, Danish Emergency Management Agency
Jamie Shea Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges, NATO
Jane Davidson Pro Vice Chancellor - External Engement and Sustainability, University of Wales Trinity Saint David; Former Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing in Wales.
Stuart Candy Associate Professor, School of Design, Carnegie Mellon University
Nicholas Colloff Director of Argidius Foundation and former Director of Innovation at Oxfam GB
Arthur Muliro Deputy Managing Director, International Secretariat of the Society for International Development (SID) in Rome
Rosemarie Forsythe Former Director, International Political Strategy at ExxonMobil and Former White House National Security Council Director for Russian, Ukrainian and Eurasian Affairs
Jeff Jonas Founder and Chief Scientist, Senzing and former IBM Fellow and Chief Scientist Context Computing, Senzing
Mat Burrows Director of Strategic Foresight, Atlantic Council, Washington D.C. Former Counsellor, U.S. National Intelligence Council and principal drafter, NIC publication Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds

Previous years’ speakers include: Jim Dator, pre-eminent futurist and political scientist; President Tarja Halonen, 11th President of Finland; Anne Marie Slaughter, President of New America Foundation; Amy Zalman, former CEO, World Future Society; Jill Wong, Director, Strategic Policy Office, Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore; Betty Sue Flowers, poet and author of the “Power of Myth”, Martin Rees, British Astronomer Royal, Co-founder of the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, University of Cambridge; and Natalie Bennett, Leader Green Party of England and Wales.

Who should attend?

Whether you set the strategic direction for your organisation, lead a strategy or innovation unit, are setting up your own foresight function, or are just curious about the future you will benefit from the new analytical and professional perspectives SOIF2017 provides. If you have already taken part in strategic foresight exercises or are new to the field, you will learn the skills and techniques needed to create change in your organisation and to communicate the impact of your foresight work.

Participants work at a senior level in strategy, policy, leadership and analytical roles in governments, NGOs, international organisations and businesses.

Previous participants include representatives from Chevron; Delma Institute, UAE; Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs; European External Action Service; Garten Rothkopf; Malaysia Industry-Government Group for High Technology; McKinsey and Company; National Commission of Security, Colombia; Save the Children; Shell Global; The African Public Policy and Research Institute; United Nations; UK Ministry of Defence.

SOIF is international – Our retreats draw attendees from all six continents, and we typically have over 18 nationalities at each retreat.

SOIF builds a community — Whether you are a foresight practitioner, user or commissioner, we help you build connections with people working to solve the same kinds of problems you are facing.

Discussion is conducted under the Chatham House Rule to provide you with the space to reflect, exchange insights and build lasting relationships.

Venue and Registration

This year’s event will be held at Hartwell House, near Aylesbury, UK. This historic house provides an intimate setting for debate, ‘fireside chats’ and creativity in the British countryside. Attendance is limited to 25 participants, so register now while we have places available!

Early bird registration closes on 16th January 2017. A deposit of £600 is required to register or you can choose to pay the retreat fee in full. Any balance will be due within two weeks.

Participant fee: Corporate: £4,255*, NGO, Government, Academia: £2,755*

Accommodation fee**: £1,195* (includes Includes use of the facilities at Hartwell House, including four nights’ accommodation, spa, meals and airport transfer from/to London Heathrow airport).

* All prices are quoted exclusive of UK VAT which will be charged at 20 percent.
** The accommodation fee will be invoiced by SOIF together with the participant fee.

Any Questions

Registration for SOIF2017 is now closed. If you are interested in joining us this year please contact us at events@soif.org.uk or call +44 (0)300 302 0486
@SOIFutures #SOIF2017

It’s brilliant, to bring together so many nationalities throughout the world, to think through these things in one place. It’s ten out of ten.

Executive Director African Public Policy & Research Institute

The School of International Futures is a treasure that anybody interested in managing for the future should not miss.

Director, Strategic Foresight Initiative Atlantic Council

Excellent teaching modules, tools and activities

Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology

Very professional. Well designed and organised. High quality of faculty.

Scenario Planning Team Shell Global
Tomas Ries at SOIF2015

The School of International Futures offers high-quality presenters, varied and robust methodologies, and an opportunity to network with other futures practitioners from around the globe.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, New Zealand

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