Exploring Alternative Futures in the Anthropocene

Steven Cork, Carla Alexandra, Jorge G. Alvarez-Romero, Elena M Bennett, Marta Berbes-Blazquez, Erin Bohensky, Barbara Bok, Robert Constanza, Shizuka Hashimoto, Rosemary Hill, Sohail Inayatullah, Kasper Kok, Carina Wyborn

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Many challenges posed by the current Anthropocene epoch require fundamental transformations to humanity’s relationships with the rest of the planet. Achieving such transformations requires that humanity improve its understanding of the current situation and enhance its ability to imagine pathways toward alternative, preferable futures. We review advances in addressing these challenges that employ systematic and structured thinking about multiple possible futures (futures-thinking). Over seven decades, especially the past two, approaches to futures-thinking have helped people from diverse backgrounds reach a common understanding of important issues, underlying causes, and pathways toward optimistic futures. A recent focus has been the stimulation of imagination to produce new options. The roles of futures-thinking in breaking unhelpful social addictions and in conflict resolution are key emerging topics. We summarize cognitive, cultural, and institutional constraints on the societal uptake of futures-thinking, concluding that none are insurmountable once understood.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)25-54
    JournalAnnual Review of Environment and Resources
    Publication statusPublished - 2023

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