Foresight, as an academic activity, means to make reasoned projections about the future by extrapolating from current conditions. The method has political and social applications, but varies considerably depending on regional and other contexts. The EU-funded IFA (International Foresight Academy) project was the first endeavour to unite international foresight activities. The seven-member group questioned how the collective practice of foresight can organise democratic participation, particularly regarding the solving of major social challenges. IFA further investigated whether foresight can address technically complex issues and overcome public disinterest in those subjects. From empirical evidence, the team worked to describe international best practice to support foresight practitioners and to foster debate. Project goals were addressed via international exchange programmes for scientists, summer schools for young researchers and seminars for established researchers. The group also realised several secondments, and organised summer schools and academic seminars as part of a planned series. The IFA project studied foresight in terms of international democratic participation, particularly regarding complex social challenges.
Foresight, democratic participation, public engagement, IFA, social challenges