The School of International Futures flagship event returned to the Hartwell House from 6-11 August.
Each 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.
You will leave a confident commissioner and intelligent user of futures techniques, with practical ideas for implementing foresight in your organisation.
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”.
At SOIF2018 we explore three themes: a policy issue, a methodological question, and a geographic “Live challenge” focused on the Future of China.
Policy Issue: Infrastructure and risk The infrastructure that surrounds us links our past, present and future. Whether transportation, energy or telecommunications, our legacy infrastructure shapes our life in the present and, through the choices we make now, may also constrain our futures. New infrastructure can be built to help us adapt in the face of uncertainty, emerging technology and a disruptive environment – or it can lock us in and leave us vulnerable to risk. Major infrastructure projects often span borders and decades, with both private and public benefits. Faced with the need to transform our infrastructure to meet the challenges of the Global Goals, this is a fascinating lens through which to understand resilience and long-term decision-making.
Methodological Question How to use Theory U to unleash the transformative potential of Strategic Foresight We will take a look at how Synchronicity and Theory U can be harnessed to help drive personal and organisational transformation. With the help of our speakers we will explore different aspects of this issue, including: how do we lead from the future as it emerges; how can we presence into the future; what leadership capacities are needed?
Live Challenge: The Future of China We will be joined by Moeletsi Mbeki Deputy Chairperson of The South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA); who will set participants a foresight challenge looking at the future of a changing China and the relationship between China and Africa.
This year we will be joined by over 20 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 strategy.
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.
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 SOIF2018 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.
This year’s event took place at Hartwell House, near Aylesbury, UK. This historic house is an intimate setting for debate, ‘fireside chats’ and creativity in the British countryside. Attendance was limited to 25 participants.
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
Very professional. Well designed and organised. High quality of faculty.Scenario Planning Team Shell Global
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
Curious what to expect? Read our Storify post from last years’ retreat.
Since my participation in the Mont Fleur scenarios more than 20 years ago I rarely witnessed a more impressive learning experience.Scenario Planning Consutant
Excellent teaching modules, tools and activitiesMalaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology
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