The futures of futures studies
Pushing the boundaries of futures thinking
25 October 2023 (Wednesday), 14:00-16:00, imagine3

Does futures consciousness make us more environmentally friendly?

Co-authors: Fanny Lalot and Outi Uusitalo

A common assumption among futurists is that increasing futures awareness would also increase environmental awareness and hence, increase pro-environmental behaviour. A recent study among Finnish population compares the connections between the level of futures consciousness and different types of pro-environmental behaviour and lifestyle choices. The results indicate that the relationship between future thinking and environmental behaviour is more complex.
The study utilises data that was gathered in Finland in February 2023. The survey included the futures consciousness scale, pro-environmental behaviour scales and items from an environmental footprint measure. The sample is representative of the whole population. While the analysis of the data is still ongoing, initial results support an assumption that while different types of pro-environmental behaviour (such as voting, activism, building of birdhouses) are connected with futures consciousness, the actual environmental impact of an individual is not correlated with it.
Taking into account the current global challenges that require immediate transformation towards environmentally less harmful lifestyles, we must ask ourselves, what is the value of futures education in this context in the light of these findings. Even if educational efforts change individuals’ attitudes, but not their lifestyles, should we look for other means to bring about the transformation our planet cannot wait for?
Keywords: futures consciousness scale, futures education, future thinking, futures literacy, pro-environmental behavior

Senior Research Fellow, Deputy Director
Finland Futures Research Centre, University of Turku