Celebrating 21 years
of Futures Studies

We have been navigating the complex and
uncertain future for over two decades


2019 is a milestone which marks 21 years of Futures Studies as an Academic Programme offered by the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB). This year, we celebrate more than two decades of research, intellectual feats, multifaceted thinking and academic rigor. Futures Studies has helped many reap the rewards of making prudent decisions through innovative sense-making, long-term planning and unique approaches. It was also the first Futures Studies programmes presented in Africa, and still amongst the only ones in the world. Today, we are honoured to continue our quest for deeper understanding of the underlying drivers of change that affect a future which is uncertain.

An overview of USB’s Futures Studies programmes

The University of Stellenbosch Business School’s postgraduate programmes in Futures Studies have their roots in the expertise, tradition, and operational ethos embodied in the Institute for Futures Research (IFR). The latter was established in 1974 in response to a growing realisation that, in a world of rapid, pervasive and omnipresent change, ad hoc, instinctive decision-making was not only inappropriate, but potentially dangerous. At the same time, South Africa entered a period of isolation, economic stagnation, and fatalism. Leaders – both business and political – were in desperate need of strategic foresight.

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Resilience: The future of organisational structure

Future adaptable, agile and resilient structures could be the key to success in a world characterised by disruptive technology and the intelligent automation and connectedness offered by the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

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‘Fascinated by drivers and indicators of change’

Alumnus Doris Viljoen says the Futures Studies programmes spoke to her because “drivers and indicators of change have always fascinated me”. “In 2008 I started my own consulting business, DV Consulting, where I work and think with business leaders about the long-term futures of their organisations. I’ve always tried to keep a balance between academia and consulting. I believe the one cannot exist without the other. My consulting work made me realise that it is one thing to take financial figures and project these, but it felt like something was missing. That’s how I found out about the Futures Studies programme that USB offers,” she says.

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How do you study for the future?

In our world, change is the only constant. It is therefore highly beneficial to take a look forward and ask yourself where our world is going. Our cluster of postgraduate programmes in Futures Studies – Postgraduate Diploma, MPhil and PhD – is designed to assist you in making better, more informed and sensible decisions about your future and the future of business.

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The future of banking: What to expect from SA’s banking sector towards 2035

Ruellyn Willemse-Snyman completed her Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degree in Futures Studies* at USB. Her research found that the digitisation of the banking industry and the continued presence and application of innovative banking solutions and enabling technology, necessitates the establishment of new regulations in order to counter the increase in security risks. The continued change in client behaviour, in turn, requires banks to continuously reinvent themselves in order to continue to satisfy the need of their clients.

In comparison to 2018 the South African banking industry landscape will look vastly different towards 2035. South Africa’s banking will be characterised by digital banking solutions unimaginable today due to the continued influence of key factors and trends in future.

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