TTF Hub > South Africa in the spotlight!

Teach the Future has hubs world wide. In this post we put our South African hub in the spotlight. The ‘TTF SA’ hub is led by Janine Nel & Zanne Horrell, both ladies with extensive professional experience. Next to their daily work they are both studying Futures Studies at the University of Stellenbosch. You can check out their profiles below.

The Teach the Future South Africa hub leaders

Futures Studies in South Africa

Not everyone is resilient in times of change or uncertain social, political and economic conditions such as those prevailing in South Africa. These circumstances can cause people to lose hope, become fatalistic and surrender control of their future to fate. This level of despondency and apathy is particularly prevalent among South Africa’s growing youth population.

The Master’s degree in Futures Studies, offered by the University of Stellenbosch Business School, is the only programme of its kind presented in Africa, and one of only a few in the world. It equips candidates with high-level competencies to react meaningfully to growing complexity in the organisational environment while taking into account the unique developmental challenges facing Africa and South Africa.


The future does not have to be terrifying. It can be exciting. With the right attitude and tools examining the future can allow those who are open to it, the opportunity to let their minds wander, and to imagine unconventional and engaging prospects and events. Although having the time and opportunity to think about the future is a privilege, it is something that every South African youth should be afforded, regardless of circumstance.

The team of Teach the Future South Africa has already accomplished a lot in a short time. Here’s a sample of their activities and achievements:

Memorandum of Understanding with Institute for Futures Research (IFR)

Teach the Future South Africa recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Institute for Futures Research at the University of Stellenbosch Business School. According to this agreement, Teach the Future SA will be the Social Impact Partner for IFR and will be conducting Futures (Foresight) workshops in schools in South African and the southern African region.

In return, the IFR will market Teach the Future South Africa to their clients. It is wonderful to have this support and recognition for work being done in South Africa!

from left to right: DR NJERI MWAGIRU – Senior Futurist: Africa, HEILET BERTRAND – Sales and Content Marketing Manager, Janine Nel – Teach the Future SA

Africa Day Video

25 May is Africa Day and a week we in South Africa celebrate Africa. IFR asked Janine Nel of Teach the Future SA to share her views on being African and the possible futures for youth in Africa. Check out the video to hear what Janine has to say!

Icy Cape Town weather cannot prevent us from talking Futures!

We gathered with 32 young religious leaders and a few mentors for a futures workshop on a Friday in June. And as in life, we plan and then something else happens…. a power transformer in the Paarl area blew the night before, so we gathered in the cold and wet in Wemmershoek to discuss the future(s).

We talked about AI, about opportunities in our communities and about creating the futures we desire.  The youngsters were keen, full of ideas and in no time were able to envision education of the future, autonomous cars and ‘human only’ jobs. One attendee even said that some of the methodologies enabled her to compile a plan to deal with a family medical crisis. It was heartwarming to hear.

As ever, we were humbled by the impact futures thinking had on the group and left to start a (cold) weekend with a warm heart.

Want to know more or join TTF SA?

Stay updated on the work of TTF SA via their hub website. If you are living in South Africa and want to join this hub, please email Janine or Zanne, (you can click on their names to got to their email.)

Thank you Janine and Zanne for all your energy and work to teach the future!

India in the Spotlights

India in de Spotlights

Hi! I’m Shiv Issar and I’m a graduate student of Sociology in India. I’ve been initiating a Teach the Future hub in India and love to share my activities and learnings with you.

Ashoka University’s campus in Sonepat, Haryana, an hour north of New Delhi

In the past six months that I’ve been acquainted with Futures Thinking and Teach the Future, I’ve managed to implement elements of Futures Thinking in two projects. The first of these two projects came my way at Ashoka University in Sonepat, Haryana – a budding liberal arts university that’s roughly about an hour north of New Delhi.

At Ashoka, I worked with Dr. Nayan Chanda, an Associate Professor of International Studies, as his Teaching Assistant (TA) for a course on Globalization. The course was directed towards graduate students of the Young India Fellowship Program – a year-long, multidisciplinary program which pulls in some of the best talent that the country has to offer.

Here, my approach towards integrating Futures Thinking within their syllabus was a bit indirect. As a TA, I had the opportunity to conduct weekly discussion sessions for students who had queries regarding the syllabus.

Moreover, following the end of each class that Dr. Chanda would take, I would send the students optional content (mostly academic journal articles and YouTube videos – like the one below) which would complement what they had studied in class. I also had the freedom to screen relevant documentaries for the students (outside of the designated timings for their class), every two weeks.

Using these avenues, I introduced them to many aspects of Futures Thinking which would be useful for anyone studying varied aspects of Globalization at the graduate level.

Some of the TTF library’s content on Globalization proved to be handy here. The “optional content” that I sent in via email featured smaller videos on topics that were worth pondering over scenarios that would concern the future of a globalized, technologically advanced community over the next few decades.

The documentaries that I screened in class (Inside Job– 2010, Before the Flood– 2016, The Third Industrial Revolution– 2018 – see trailer below) helped them informally think over the process of scanning an environment, setting a vision, and planning towards achieving it after running through plausible scenarios.

Furthermore, it helped them with organically reaching the idea of how to keep a historical trends analysis report relevant, when considering its position with respect to the preceding era/cycle of time that concerns it.

In the final discussion session, I introduced them to Framework Foresight, and helped them put all of our preceding discussion sessions within a bigger contextual framework.

My second project was comparatively more elaborate. As a faculty for the University of California’s Education Abroad Program (UCEAP) in Mumbai for Fall 2018, I had the freedom to design the course on “India Studies” as I wanted to (as long as I met UCEAP’s academic requirements, of course).

In the due course of structuring the curriculum, I planned out my 3-hour lectures with the intention of addressing several themes that concerned the socioeconomic aspects of life in Mumbai, which is where my students were interning for the semester as well.

The themes covered the city’s political and economic history, the nature of its urban ecologies, 21st century casteism, and the facets of labor within the city. The level of rigor that the syllabus offered was roughly around that of what a senior undergraduate student at one of the University of California campuses might expect, which is where all of my students were from.

Aaron’s presentation on the Delphi Method during our Foresight workshop

My intention here, was for these themes to inform a STEEP (Social, Technological, Economic, Environmental and Political) analysis that they could use to envision plausible futures within a particular domain. The workshop on Foresight came in towards the very end of the course, keeping in mind what the future of Mumbai might be like.

I managed to get the students to go over the Delphi method and a history of academic futures studies (courtesy Jennifer Gidley’s book on the Future) before we got onto using Framework Foresight.

Kathy took us the first half of ‘Framework Foresight’

Thereafter, we used Richard Lum’s templates for foresight analysis, to draw a comparison between the approaches that professional and academic futurists use.

My students were quick to point that Framework Foresight was more flexible and accommodating, and that they were able to trace out a more organic way of thinking within it than they were able to while using Dr. Lum’s templates.

Towards the end of the workshop, we discussed how foresight would fit in within the work that they had been engaged with at their internships. The students who had been interning at government-run schools for children from low-income families came to notice how Teach the Future’s curriculum would serve them well.

Student drop-out rates are a major concern at these schools, particularly after the children are in middle school, and they took note of how the TTF library would be a major asset for them, if they were to teach or work in a similar setting again someday.

While Sonia took us through the rest of it.

By keeping the Foresight workshop for the very end of the course, and by combining my approach at Ashoka in Delhi with what I’ve been doing in Mumbai, I believe I’ve been able to harness a greater deal of faith in the purpose and use of futures thinking in an academic setting.

I hope to continue to improve and/or supplement my approach to it within the classroom as the years go by, and as I turn towards involving more people with Teach the Future – India, I welcome feedback on my work, and ideas pertaining to what could be done in the months that lie ahead of me.

Please feel free to reach out to me via mail: shiv.issar [@], and tell me about your initial experiences with teaching the future!

// All pictures used in this blog are Shiv’s own.

UCEAP Mumbai “India Studies” Class, Fall 2018