Ruben Nelson has been deeply involved in each of these futures research projects.
Social Policy Project:
In 1970-’71, Ruben Nelson was part of a small team charged by Prime Minister Trudeau with the responsibility of re-thinking social policy and developing a coherent conceptual framework for it. The team not only re-thought social policy, but re-conceived it based on a new understanding of human persons. This move was made because we realized that a coherent framework based on Modern/Industrial concepts would have the unintended consequence of making things worse. With a coherent Modern/Industrial framework, we would damage systematically, where now, due to our incoherence, we only damage randomly. Understandably, in 1971, such a radical move was deemed to be unacceptable by the Prime Minister’s advisors. Few folks are ready to embrace this insight today. Nevertheless, during the project we developed a global network of researchers and practitioners who understood the conversation we were pursuing and encouraged us to pursue it.
Cultural Paradigms Project:
In 1975-’76, Ruben Nelson designed and led a small project that was the first in the world to apply the concept of paradigm change to whole cultures and forms of civilization. The work was undertaken for Environment Canada as a way to make more reliable sense of our changing global cultural context. Again, the work was deemed to be a-reach-to-far for the Ministry’s Executive team. Again, the project deepened and extended the global network of researchers and practitioners who valued the way of framing and making sense of societal change. By the end of this project, it was clear to Ruben that the hypothesis that ours was a time of profound civilizational-scale change made more sense than any other hypothesis.
Western Canada Futures Exploration Group:
In 1979-’80, Ruben Nelson led a small groups of senior executives through an 18 month exploration of new ways to make sense of societal change. The group was drawn from a cross-section of Western Canadian organizations. The group met with and engaged some of the leading civilizational researchers.
Post-Industrial Futures Project:
In 1986-’89, Ruben Nelson led a multi-client, cross-sectoral research project into the hypothesis that ours actually is time of profound civilizational paradigm change. As far as we know this was the first such formal research in Canada. Twenty papers were written on virtually every dimension of such a change from the dominant cultural stories, to epistemological presuppositions, to the economy, technology, the environment, governance and social policy. None of the sponsors of the project were ready to pursue the work further.
Calgary Info-Port Initiative:
In 1990-’92, Ruben Nelson led a cross sectoral group of senior executives in Calgary through what in effect was a graduate course in information society, information economy and information technology. The thinking of this group informed the $170m commitment to information technology of the Government of Alberta. It also led to the “Calgary Info Port” program of the Calgary Research and Development authority. The program lasted four decades.
Capitalizing on Change Project:
In 1997-’99, Ruben Nelson and a group of colleagues led a pan-Alberta project that was the first to combine futures research into profound societal change with citizen engagement. It was this experience that has led Foresight Canada to become committed to this combination in all of its research and consulting.
Strategic Opportunities and Challenges Facing Canada and the World In the Early 21st Century and The Science and Technologies Required to Sustain Success Project:
In 2005-’06, Ruben Nelson and David Harries undertook an 18 month project with the above title. A PDF of the report of the project is available here: FC, Strategic Opportunites and Challenges in teh early 21st Century, R. Nelson, 2005. A PDF of a summary of the Major Trends Shaping Our Future is available here: FC, Major Trends Shaping Our Future, summary, 2005.
- The Interplay of Technology Consciousness and Culture: Implications for Future-Oriented Technology Analysis. 2004 The Interplay of Technology, Consciousness and Culture, R. Nelson, 2004.
- “Whither Democracy: Reflections on the Future of Democracy in the 21st” In Democracy and Futures, Ed. Mika Mannermaa, Jim Dator and Paula Tiihonen, Committee of the Future, Parliament of Finland, 2006. Whither Democracy, Reflections…, R. Nelson, 2006.
- “Aligning Alberta with the 21st” Presented at the Changing Foresight Practice in Regional Development – Global Pressures and Regional Possibilities – Conference, 7-9 June, 2006, Turku, Finland. Aligning Alberta with the 21st Century, R Nelson, 2006.
- “Implications for our Practice of FTA of the 20th Century Revolution in Ontology and Epistemology.” Presented at the Second International Seville Seminar on Future-Oriented Technology Analysis: Impact of FTA Approaches on Policy and Decision-Making – Seville, Spain, 28-29 September, 2006. Implications for FTA of New Ontology and Epistemology, R. Nelson, 2006.
- “Exploring Cultural Frame-Change: Towards a Capacity to Co-Create the Next Form of Human Civilization By Modelling the Evolution of Human Consciousness and Culture.” Presented at the From Oracles to Dialogue; Exploring New Ways to Explore the Future, 3rd COST A22 Conference, Athens, July 9-11, 2007. Exploring Cultural Frame Change…, R. Nelson, 2007.
- “Extending Foresight: The Case for and nature of Foresight 2.0.” Presented at “Learning the Future Faster”, a conference at the Strathclyde School of Business, Glasgow, Scotland, 2007. Extending Foresight – The Case for Foresight 2.0, R. Nelson, 2007.
- “Surprises Ahead: What Will Be Special About the 21st Century? Why Do We Now Need Boundary-Crossing Research?” Keynote address presented at the International Symposium on Research Across Boundaries, University of Luxemburg, 2010. Surprises Ahead, R. Nelson, 2010.
- “New maps for New Times: A Fresh Look at Persons and Communities.” Prepared for the 2011 Canadian National Recreation Summit, Lake Louise, Alberta. 2011 New Maps for New Times — Persons and Communities, R Nelson, 2011.
- “Adelaide’s Lament: Exploring Our Inability to Make Reliable Sense of Our Situation.” Adelaide’s Lament, R. Nelson, 2012.