Grappling with the Future 2018

Conference | Grappling with the Future | Boston, US | 29-30 April 2018

The goal of Grappling with the Future is to bring together philosophers, historians, and science, technology and society (STS) scholars who are deeply engaged with the exploration of the future.


From the 29th to 30th April 2018, Grappling with the Future will be held at the Boston University. The symposium will provide insights from Philosophy, History, and Science, Technology and Society, with the goal of bringing together scholars who are engaged in exploration of the future.

Futures studies, which emerged as a new field after WWII, offer a variety of methods for predicting, forecasting, anticipating, controlling, imagining, and shaping multiple futures. Those methods include trend extrapolation, predictive modeling, scenario-planning, Delphi, and Wild Cards, to name a few. The symposium will begin with an interdisciplinary dialogue that interrogates the goals, concepts, and methods of futures studies and probes informal futures-oriented thinking that is ubiquitous in social thought and practice.

From the 1950s on, American and European philosophers took part in the creation of futures studies. In the US, they relied on their background in logic, philosophy of science, and epistemology; in Europe, they mainly mobilized political and social philosophy, philosophy of action, ontology, and axiology. However, from the ‘80s to the end of the ‘90s, philosophers were less involved with the field.  What are new philosophical issues, theories, concepts, and forms of engagement with futures studies? How are anticipation, forecast, and foresight related?

STS studies have for decades investigated the futures and stressed the performative dimension of assertions about the future in public policy and R&D contexts. How does STS construe the imaginaries at work in futures studies, popular culture, politics, and social movements? What is the potential contribution of the growing field of visual STS to understanding the exploration of the futures as a material, social, and institutional practice?

All of these questions and many more will be discussed at the symposium through both the discipline-specific and intermediary sessions. Speakers will in general have 20 minutes to present their original research at the symposium.

The symposium will be held at the Boston University, and is hosted by Harvard University (Department of the History of Science) & Boston University (Department of Philosophy).

More information for the symposium is available on the Call for Papers Page. For all queries, please email Dr. Saghai at

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