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Oxford Futures Forum 2014

10:00, 30 May 2014 to 16:00, 31 May 2014
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Saïd Business School
Park End Street, Oxford, OX1 1HP
£500 + VAT at 20% Book now
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The fourth Oxford Futures Forum scheduled for 30-31 May 2014 aims to join two established communities of thought and practice – the design research community and the scenario planning practice and research community. OFF 2014 is designed to enable generative dialogue, productive collaboration and deep reflection on the connections between scenario thinking and practice and design - particularly scholarly study of design. As in the prior three OFF events, this is an invitation-only event.

Further detail is provided in the “OFF2014 Supplementary Information” section below and in the scoping document: “Scoping the Dialogue Space”.

OFF2014 organising committee

  • Lucy Kimbell, Associate Fellow, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, and Principal Research Fellow, University of Brighton
  • Rafael Ramirez, Fellow in Strategy and Director of the Oxford Scenarios Programme, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford and Green Templeton College, University of Oxford
  • Cynthia Selin, Assistant Professor, School of Sustainability, Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes, Arizona State University, USA and Associate Fellow, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford
  • Yasser Bhatti, Researcher, OFF 2014, Saïd Business School and Green Templeton College, University of Oxford
  • Kerri-Anne Chisholm, Assistant Curator of Exhibition

OFF2014 supplementary information

Purpose and aims

  • Forging and supporting an international community of future-minded practices aimed at stimulating actionable, impactful knowledge;
  • Identifying and investigating academic and practitioner interests at the forefront of scenarios and design, and relating them to each other;
  • Uncovering and pushing the boundaries of scenarios practices and theory, to clarify and extend their effectiveness through critical review and linking with other fields;
  • Enabling networking and publishing  (e.g. two books from first OFF in 2005; a set of sense-making scenarios and two published papers after OFF 2008, which saw another workshop based on the Oxford one organised by Arizona State University; so far one paper from OFF 2011)
  • Leveraging the neutral, highly respected and international convening power of Oxford University.

Theme – scenarios and design

The theme of the fourth Oxford Futures Forum will explore the possible synergies and differences between work on design and the so-called ‘intuitive logics’ school in scenarios. See “Scoping the Dialogue Space” and OFF2014 supplementary information.


  • Up to 70 participants, by invitation only
  • Two day event
  • Application requirement: invitation and 250 word abstract and image.

Like the last three forums, the upcoming event is designed in an Open Space format, to enable generative dialogue. It is interactive and participative, with the substance created and evolved by the participants themselves; it is not the standard conference design of sequential ‘stand and deliver’ speeches. The set of initial discussion topics will be determined by the Organisers from the selected pre-Forum inputs submitted by invited participants. Subsequent discussion topics will be collectively generated by the participants during the event.

Building on the success of the previous three forums

Previous Oxford Futures Forums related scenario thinking and practice with social ecology and causal textures theory (2005), with sense-making (2008), and with complexity (2011). They generated lively two-day ‘strategic conversations’ among participants.

The first Oxford Futures Forum was successful in producing a three round ‘strategic conversation’ among 70 participants from the communities of social ecologists and scenario thinkers. The first Forum was also the moment that we were gifted the Pierre Wack Library, which now has dedicated facilities in Egrove park. The outputs of OFF 2005 have been two co-edited books: (1) Scenarios for Success, published by Wiley in 2007, and (2) Business Planning for Turbulent Environments, published by Earthscan in 2008, with a second edition in 2010 prefaced by Minister Vince Cable.

The second OFF gave rise to a joint workshop on plausibility with Arizona State University, the publication of sense-making scenarios and several papers and chapters and lectures derived from, commenting, or extending that work. The most recent papers stemming from OFF 2008 are by Ramirez, Osterman and Gronquist. on Scenarios and Early Warnings published in Technological Forecasting and Social Change and by Ramirez and Selin on plausibility and probability in Foresight (out in 2014). Output from the third OFF is in progress but has thus far resulted in a paper by Wilkinson, Kupers and Mangalagiu  on complexity and scenarios which appeared in Technological Forecasting & Social Change.

We are aiming for similar effective and quality outcomes from OFF 2014. Potential outcomes may be in the form of research questions, joint publications and research proposals and workshops, and further networking and community building. All Oxford Futures Forum conversations are made available to the public using the Chatham House Rule.

Securing your place

To secure a place

- If you have been invited by the committee, please register your availability and commitment by 15 January 2014 by sending a 250 word abstract and an image on what you’d like to contribute to this fourth Oxford Futures Forum. All contributions should seek to connect design with scenarios.
- Acceptance will be communicated by 15 February 2014, Complete the pro-forma of accommodation requirements, etc. that will be included with the formal acknowledgement of your attendance.
- Payment of fees by 31 March 2014. This year the total costs for participating in the Forum, including one night accommodation and all meals on the Friday and breakfast and lunch on the Saturday are £500 + VAT (20%). 


The Global Business Policy Council of AT Kearney has generously offered to fund a limited number of scholarships, which the Organizers will allocate on a need basis. Eligibility criteria for these scholarships will be communicated to those accepted for participation.

Criteria for evaluation of submissions

  1. Scenarios and design must be explicitly related to each other
  2. Innovative approach or theory
  3. Originality in scholarship and/or practice
  4. Demonstration of reflexivity or critical assessment of one’s work
  5. Clarity of contribution


15 January 2014: Submissions to be emailed to (end of day, UK time).
15 February 2014: Acceptances to be communicated by email.
31 March 2014: Deadline for payment of forum fees £500+VAT at 20%.

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