Featuring chapters from an international range of leading and emerging scholars, this Handbook provides a collection of cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research that sheds new light on contemporary futures studies. Engaging with key defining questions of the early twenty-first century such as climate change, big data, AI, the future of economics, education, mental health, cities and more, the Handbook provides a review and synthesis of futures scholarship, highlighting the role that societies can and should play in their making. While the various chapters demonstrate how futures emerge and take shape in particular places at particular times, the distinctive insight provided by the volume overall is that futures thinking today must be social and contextual.

By presenting a range of futures work from contexts around the globe, the Handbook contextualizes techniques – forecasting, backcasting, scenario planning, collaboration and co-production– to ask how different dimensions of the social are created and circulated in the process. Through its thirty chapters, the volume explores and interrogates narratives, anticipations, enactments, ecologies, collaborations, prospections and so on to highlight which versions of the social are legitimized and which are encouraged and foreclosed.

This Handbook opens an important conversation about the centrality of the social in futures thinking. By bringing arts, humanities and social sciences scholars and practitioners into conversation with biologists, environmental, climate and computer scientists, this volume seeks to encourage new pathways across, between and within multiple disciplines to interrogate the futures we need and want. The social must be our starting point if we are to steer our planet in a direction that supports good lives for the many, everywhere.

chapter |18 pages


Why social futures?

chapter 1|19 pages

A beginning

A critical history of scenarios

chapter 2|14 pages


Futures literacy and Generation Z

chapter 3|7 pages


The social future of intelligence

chapter 4|10 pages


Flourishing for the future

chapter 5|10 pages


Where futurists and biologists meet

chapter 6|14 pages


Retravelling Nickelsdorf

chapter 7|11 pages

Climate change

Transformational adaptation in Bangladesh

chapter 8|13 pages


Collaborative future-making

chapter 9|9 pages


The futures of personal data

chapter 10|10 pages


Thinking futures ecologically

chapter 11|12 pages


Catalysing large-scale system change

chapter 12|9 pages


Homeland connections and family futures

chapter 13|12 pages

Higher education

The future university

chapter 14|11 pages


Healthcare futures

chapter 15|9 pages


Material cultures of future mobility

chapter 16|9 pages

Literary futures

How fiction can help policy makers

chapter 17|8 pages

Mental health

What can social futures teach us?

chapter 18|10 pages

Mobility justice

Sustainable mobility futures

chapter 19|8 pages

Multi-planetary worlds

Mobilities of the space age

chapter 20|9 pages


Telling social futures

chapter 21|9 pages

Postcolonial futures

Urban eventualities

chapter 22|10 pages


Producing social futures

chapter 23|8 pages


Infrastructuring proto-futures

chapter 24|15 pages


Liberation futures with Afrofuturism

chapter 25|9 pages

Smart cities

Policy without polity

chapter 26|8 pages


Creating urban futures

chapter 27|12 pages


Futurity, realism and the social

chapter 28|10 pages

Visible cities

Envisioning social futures

chapter 29|11 pages

Walking futures

Following in the footsteps of mobility pioneers