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Future Workshop

- a demo­c­ra­t­ic space for par­tic­i­pants with dif­fer­ent inter­ests, expe­ri­ences and positions

Future Work­shop offers a demo­c­ra­t­ic space where par­tic­i­pants with dif­fer­ent inter­ests, expe­ri­ences and posi­tions can meet to work with an over­ar­ch­ing theme (sub­ject or state) that they want to change or develop.

Why work with Future Work­shop? The aim of the method is to facil­i­tate active par­tic­i­pa­tion in devel­op­men­tal and change work. It offers a struc­ture where the voic­es and per­spec­tives of all the par­tic­i­pants is tak­en into account, and where the par­tic­i­pants, on their own premis­es and con­di­tions, col­lec­tive­ly can come up with a plan to influ­ence their sur­round­ings and their own lives.

The future work­shop is usu­al­ly facil­i­tat­ed by two per­sons who guide the par­tic­i­pants through five phas­es that go from prob­lem inven­to­ry to an action plan:

Find a theme for the work­shop. In the Swedish LEMA project, for exam­ple, the theme was,

What do I/we need to do to give young peo­ple in the neigh­bour­hood a good life today and in the future?

Dis­cuss and decide who should par­tic­i­pate, how many days are need­ed (1 or 2 days), where should the work­shop take place, and how should the process be documented.

The place is impor­tant because you need to orga­nize the room in a way that it feels acces­si­ble, that it invites to dia­logue and enables sym­met­ri­cal pow­er rela­tions. Who and what will dom­i­nate is depend­ing on how the room is fur­nished? Think also about select­ing a place that you usu­al­ly do not frequent.

The work­shop starts with an inven­to­ry of prob­lems, dif­fi­cul­ties, and obsta­cles relat­ed to the theme; what does the par­tic­i­pants want to leave behind, what are they crit­i­cal about, and what is per­ceived as problematic?

It is impor­tant to stress that every­thing is to be tak­en seri­ous­ly, and that every­one can speak freely. What is being said is not­ed in bul­let points on “wall prints” by the lead­ers. The wall prints are then used in dis­cus­sions in small­er groups.

Paper with notes from future workshop

Paper with notes from future workshop

Par­tic­i­pants are encour­aged to look beyond every­day rou­tines and habits and to describe how they envi­sion a future; what would it look like if you had the pow­er of deci­sion, and there would be no lim­i­ta­tions and restrictions?

Here again, what is being said is not­ed in bul­let points on “wall prints” by the lead­ers. The wall prints are then used in dis­cus­sions in small­er groups.  Urgent and attrac­tive visions and ideas are the con­cretized in the next phase.

Here the par­tic­i­pants come togeth­er in small groups to dis­cuss on con­crete solu­tions and actions. The work in the groups should result in assign­ments about what should be done, by whom, when,  how and why.

The assign­ments are pre­sent­ed for the whole group, who then agree on what ideas and sug­ges­tions should be con­tin­ued work­ing with.

The lead­ers of the Future work­shop as well as pre­vi­ous and new par­tic­i­pants, come togeth­er to fol­low up the assign­ments decid­ed on;  what has hap­pened since the last meet­ing, what chal­lenges has there been in rela­tion to the imple­men­ta­tion, and how to con­tin­ue the work?


Buhl, Jette; Gitte Nile­sen & Ingrid Therkelsen (1989). Fremtidsverk­stad – en udfor­dring til det sociale arbe­jde. Nordiskt Sosialt Arbei­de 3/1989, 16–22.

Den­vall, Vern­er & Tapio Salo­nen (2000). Att bry­ta vanans makt – Framtidsverk­städer och det nya Sverige. Lund: Studentlitteratur

Jungk, R., and N.R. Müllert. 1984. Hånd­bog I Fremtidsværk­st­ed­er. Viborg: Poli­tisk Revy. (TRAN Nielsen, B. S.)