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8 Institutes Working on Anticipatory Governance Research

Updated: Jan 9, 2023

A master's or a Ph.D. program at a research hub that specializes and focuses on anticipatory governance could lead to proactive decision-making to unforeseen challenges.

Artwork by Tarika Jain

One of the forerunners of the sustainability movement is the concept of anticipatory governance, which leads to more proactive decisions and quick solutions to unforeseen challenges. Futuring, strategic planning, and scenario-making aim to help decision-makers make more informed choices and judgments in the face of such uncertainties.

A master's or a PhD program at a research hub that specializes and focuses on anticipatory governance, could not only provide the requisite knowledge but also a hands-on experience with leading researchers of the world. Given below is a list of some of the top research hubs working on anticipatory governance.


  1. Institute for the Future: It is a US-based not-for-profit think tank. The Institute maintains research programs on the futures of technology, health, and organizations and publishes a variety of reports, maps, as well as a blog Future Now, on emerging technologies. Among its many projects, IFTF's Governance Futures Lab aims to re-imagine governance through designing and prototyping governance systems and practices that can meet the complex global challenges of the 21st century. Roy Charles Amara was a former president of IFTF and his adage on forecasting the effects of technology has become known as Amara’s law and is used to explain nanotechnology.

  2. Stockholm University: The Stockholm Resilience Centre, is a research centre on resilience and sustainability science at Stockholm University. The centre advises policymakers in Europe and all over the world on ecosystem management and sustainable development. One of the major research areas of SRC is transformative futures which explores the knowledge systems, values, meanings, practices, behaviours, and governance arrangements that can contribute to fair and just sustainable futures. In 2009, Stockholm Resilience Centre's then-director Johan Rockström led an international group of 28 leading academics, who proposed a new Earth system framework, the "planetary boundaries”. The framework hypothesized that the Earth system processes on the planet have thresholds that should not be crossed. Later, in 2021, a documentary titled, Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet, told the story of how Rockström and his team discovered the nine planetary boundaries.

  3. Utrecht University - The Copernicus Institute is the scientific institute for sustainability research and teaching at Utrecht University. Within the Copernicus Institute is the Urban Futures Studio. Research in the Urban Futures Studio is focused on studying positive, sustainable, and meaningfully democratic futures and ways to get there. Their research themes include urban, climate, and education futuring, including futuring for governance and democracy. Prof. dr. Maarten Hajer, the founder of the studio, wrote the paper ‘Imagining the post-fossil city: why is it so difficult to think of new possible worlds?’ in 2019, about the transition to ‘post-fossil urbanization’ being hampered by the lack of positive imaginations of alternative possible urban futures and post-fossil city life.

  4. Oxford University - Foresight4Food among other projects at Oxford University employs the foresight and strategy approach to anticipatory governance. The initiative has developed a framework to guide scenario analysis and foresight for a change in food systems. F4F has been both a part of and initiator of major food systems-related projects all over the world. One such example is the FoSTr Program which supports the dialogue, analysis, and understanding necessary for co-creating food systems of the future that are sustainable, healthy, equitable, and resilient.

  5. CGIAR: It is a global partnership that unites international organizations engaged in research about food security. The CGIAR Research Initiative on Foresight aims to leverage the available data and technology along with the ongoing debates to offer insights into the alternative pathways that can inform choices today to create better, more sustainable, and more productive food systems in the future. This program will enable governments to make more informed decisions about investments to improve climate mitigation and adaptation, nutrition, equity, and livelihoods along with more informed policy decisions. This will not just help governments make more informed decisions in the present but also equip them with foresight tools and strengthen their foresight capabilities.

  6. OECD - The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an intergovernmental organization with 38 member countries, founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade. OECD’s Observatory for Public Sector Innovation(OPSI) uses Anticipatory Governance to prepare governments for the volatile and uncertain issues they face. Governments need to consider a variety of scenarios and act upon them in real time. Public sectors need to continuously hypothesize, identify and test modern solutions to benefit from future opportunities while reducing the risks through increased resilience of their systems. To aid such efforts OPSI has developed an Anticipatory Innovation Governance(AGI) model. Another program of the OECD focussing on future studies is the International Futures Programme (IFP), whose paper on Future Global Shocks gave insights into the risks that could emerge in the face of the financial crisis and other events relating to the solar system, cyber world and the solar system and what strategic capacities would need to be called for increasing resilience and response to such risks.

  7. Fraunhofer ISI: The Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (Fraunhofer ISI) is Europe’s largest application-oriented research organisation. It conducts applied research and development on innovations in engineering, economics, the natural sciences, and social sciences. Foresight is one of the research interests at ISI. The Competence Center Foresight develops and conducts strategic foresight processes in enterprises, politics, and society. They work with scientifically based foresight methods like horizon scanning, trend analyses, creative dialogues, scenario processes, or road mapping. to develop future strategies for organizations. Their paper, ‘Sensemaking and lens-shaping: Identifying citizen contributions to foresight through comparative topic modelling’ uses Natural Language Processing, which offers new modes of examining foresight texts for sensemaking in organizations.

  8. Australian National University - The Institute for Water Futures at the Australian National University, is a research institute that supports sustainable water futures and finds ways to resolve the water problems of tomorrow. Through the use of data analytics, remote sensing, and visioning and scenarios the institute develops and assesses model outcomes to investigate the range and scope of plausible water futures. They work with multiple stakeholders to envision socially feasible futures through an in-depth understanding of governance, institutions, and social norms and values, combining scientific and social insights to create multi-dimensional understandings of how different actors and organizations navigate uncertainty and plan for the future.


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