EP 18: Big History and Civilisational Foresight - Joseph Voros

Dr Joseph Voros is a highly-respected internationally-known educator of Big History and Futures/Foresight. He was present on the first day of the Swinburne Master of Strategic Foresight program in 2001 and taught up to literally the very last day of the course in 2018.

Joe considers himself a “civilisational-transition futurist”, thinking about the coming civilisational transition and the potential futures for humankind which lie in and beyond it. He talks about Big History, moving beyond “surface” trend analysis towards understanding deeper system structures and even deeper historical dynamics, as well as using scenarios and looking out for ‘wildcards’.

Interviewed by: Rebecca Mijat

More about Joe


Some of the papers, books, TED talks etc mentioned in the episode

Generic Foresight Process, with Big History and ‘Threshold 9’:

  • Voros, J 2017, ‘Big History and anticipation: Using Big History as a framework for global foresight’, in R Poli (ed.) Handbook of anticipation: Theoretical and applied aspects of the use of future in decision making, Springer International, Cham. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-31737-3_95-1

Futures Cone blog post (excerpted from above chapter):

Anthropocene conference presentation (with Futures Cone and aliens!): 

  • Voros, J 2015, ‘The Anthropocene, “Threshold 9” and the long-term future of humankind’. Presented at The Big History Anthropocene Conference: A Transdisciplinary Exploration, Big History Institute, Macquarie University, Sydney, 9-11 Dec, Session 6, Dec 11. https://youtu.be/Z7gU3ZsSWr0

More aliens, analysing scenarios about discovering them:

  • Voros, J 2018, ‘On a morphology of contact scenario space’, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, vol. 126, Jan, pp. 126-137. doi: 10.1016/j.techfore.2017.05.007

That strange galaxy…

Big History and Futures Education:

  • Voros, J 2018, ‘Big History as a scaffold for Futures education’, World Futures Review, vol. 10, no. 4, Dec, pp. 263-278. doi:10.1177/1946756718783510. Special Issue: ‘Foresight Education, part 2’, P Bishop (ed.).

Andy Hines and Peter Bishop’s book:

Arnold Toynbee’s A Study of History: 

Jaron Lanier

Kashmir Hill

Shoshana Zuboff

The Minimalists

Cal Newport on Digital Minimalism

Graham Turner’s work on The Limits to Growth

Glenn Greenwald

Mikko Hypponen

Josh Floyd

  • Article on Descent Futures: Floyd, J 2014, ‘Sense-making and acting for descent futures: Human and cultural pathways’, Foresight, vol. 16, no. 6, pp. 586-607. doi:10.1108/fs-11-2013-0061

  • Blog: Floyd, J 2012, ‘Beyond this brief anomaly: An inquiry into energy and society’, weblog.http://beyondthisbriefanomaly.org