USB Blog

Futures Studies: Embrace tomorrow

small business academy
  • Mar 16 2018


In our world, change is the only constant. It’s therefore highly beneficial to take a look forward and ask yourself where our world is going. USB’s 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.

What is Futures Studies? 
Futures Studies is about gaining an understanding of how various futures will unfold and the interaction between a wide range of variables or forces. Distilling from these forces, we can determine the issues that will affect the future of a country, government, organisation or individual.

Strategise with confidence
If you play a role in the direction of a business, the decisions you make must be aligned with where the business world is going. Futures Studies will enhance your understanding of possible changes in the long-term future and equip you with the correct methods to respond accordingly.

African outlook
There are not many programmes in Futures Studies on a postgraduate level in the world. In fact, USB’s academic programmes are the only ones presented in Africa. This makes these programmes perfect for anyone looking to make a positive difference in an African context; not to mention providing a unique perspective on helping the continent prosper.

What the students say
We spoke with alumnus Doris Viljoen, and current students Jonathan Cherry and Zanne Horrell, to gain more insight into the USB Futures Studies experience.



What was the highlight of your Futures Studies journey?
Definitely the new thinking. It was like having a new brain! Also meeting the people that joined me in the group, and being inspired by the real gurus in our field. On the programme, we had the best people to teach us. It was an experience and a privilege.   

What was the impact of this on your career?
Doing the Postgraduate Diploma and then the MPhil in Futures Studies has certainly prepared me for my work. I am a foresight practitioner and I do this kind of thinking every day as a living. It has equipped me with a huge toolkit for me to work with when I engage with clients. 

What would you tell new or prospective Futures students?
The best advice I got was to allow for enough time, especially when doing assignments. You can write 5, 10 or 12 pages in the day, but you really need to allow your thinking to mature to achieve deeper levels of insight. Do that first draft and let it lie for some time, and you will reach new, more mature levels of thinking.   




What made you choose Futures Studies?
I never thought I’d study again until I met someone who was busy with his MPhil in Futures Studies. I then realised that I’d found a course that speaks to my natural sensibilities and to my values. I was so inspired that I enrolled very shortly after that encounter. 

How would you like the course to help you in your career?
What appeals to me the most about Futures Studies is its focus on making a positive difference. 

Challenges so far?
There is so much reading! There is not enough time in the day for all the books, the newspapers, the articles, the videos… But this shows the wealth of information out there.




What made you choose Futures Studies?
I am a freelance marketing consultant, and a few years ago I decided to experiment with experiential marketing. I spent a lot of time researching trends but I wasn’t really sure about what I was ultimately doing. I decided to sign up for the Futures Studies course in 2016 to provide an academic framework to what I was doing. 

How would you like the course to help you in your career?
More than anything, it empowers me to believe in my thinking and understand that my crazy ideas aren’t so crazy after all.  

Challenges so far?
I was blown away with the level of thinking that we were encouraged to produce in my first year. It turned out to be far more of an academic year – it was a year of personal growth for me. 

Onward and upward
One of the biggest challenges that comes with living in a world of constant change is making sense of it. Perhaps Futures Studies can be summarised as an attempt to answer three fundamental questions: What is going on in the big wide world? So what? Now what? Therefore, one of the programme’s major objectives is to equip decision makers with ways and means to deal with change and to make the right decisions in terms of the long-term future. This will enable you to make to most of opportunities and to mitigate risk because you will have a far deeper understanding of all the factors that can hamper your progress or help you along.


The Futures Studies programme is presented in collaboration with Stellenbosch University’s Institute for Futures Research (IFR).​ Offering a Postgraduate Diploma in Futures Studies, MPhil in Futures Studies and PhD in Futures Studies.

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