The futures of futures studies
Pushing the boundaries of futures thinking

Decoding Future Literacy: Revealing the Characteristics of a Vital Capability for the Future

Futures Literacy (FL) has been recognized by UNESCO as a vital capability for the 21st century, enabling individuals to navigate novelty, complexity, and imagination for a successful future. However, FL remains limited in research and practice, leading to questions about its validity and the need for conceptual clarity. This study aims to explore the characteristics of the existing literature on FL to provide insights into this crucial skillset.
Based on a comprehensive bibliometric analysis of futures thinking and related fields in Web of Science (WoS) and SCOPUS, 2945 journal articles could be identified. 74 of the publications explicitly mentioned 'future(s) literacy/literacies' in author keywords, titles, and abstracts and were published between 2006 and 2022. The qualitative literature analysis focused in particular on publication types, research aims and questions, research design and methods, underlying theories, contributions, limitations, and outlook.
The review of the literature reveals a young yet developing research field with mostly exploratory and conceptual contributions. The predominant research goal centers around understanding FL, with a focus on 'how?' questions and qualitative and mixed-methods approaches. While many publications draw on anticipation and transformative learning theories, a clear theoretical foundation for FL is missing. This study provides a systematic overview of FL literature, highlighting its young and evolving nature. To progress from the highly conceptual stage of the research field, further clarification of the concept, empirical work, and methodological rigor are needed. The contribution gives an outlook for future research and shows first concrete ideas.