The Organization and History of The APF

The APF was founded in 2002 by an informal network of professional futurists. A community of like-minded people saw the need to create a network to help advance the field. We are now a worldwide group of foresight professionals with members from over thirty countries.

The early years of the APF as told by one of the founding members, Andy Hines, can be downloaded here.

The annual members Gathering has been a key activity in the history of the APF. After the initial gathering April 2002 in Seattle, "Applied Futures Summit," the organization began planning formal events. Each gathering focuses on a particular topic, including both possible futures and futures methods.
  • 2003: “Futures of Futures” in Austin, Texas
  • 2004: “Future of Reality” in Las Vegas, Nevada
  • 2005: “Futures Insurrection” in Miami, Florida
  • 2006: “iMod: Hacking the Big Ideas” in Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • 2007: “Future of Identities” in Vancouver, British Columbia
  • 2008: “Future of Social Media” in New York City
  • 2009: “Futures By Design”  at Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, California
  • 2010: “Big Questions” in Denver, Colorado
  • 2011: "V-Gathering Futures Festival" global virtual gathering
  • 2012: "Emergent: The Future of New Government & Economic Models" in Oxford, UK
  • 2013: "Play: Simulation, Gaming, and the Future" in Orlando, Florida
  • 2014: "Convergence: Maker Movement, Social Entrepreneurs, & the Sharing Economy" in San Francisco, California
  • 2015: "The Learning Remix" in Atlanta, Georgia
Initially organized by Michele Bowman and Christian Crews, Garry Golden assumed leadership in 2009. In October 2011, the inaugural Virtual Gathering featured 26 futurists on four themes: Crazy Futures, Art/Design/Architecture, FS Methods, and Building a Futures Business. A 2012 gathering in Europe celebrating the APF Tenth Anniversary was held in Oxford England. Christian Crews, Gatherings Chair/Board Member and Wendy Schultz, Oxford host, organized the event. 

In 2013, "Play: Simulation, Gaming and the Future" explored the landscape of simulation and gaming. Christian Crews, Gatherings Chair/Board Member, Joe Tankersley, Board member/Orlando co-host, and Emily Empel, Orlando co-host organized it. In 2014, "Convergence: Maker Movement, Social Entrepreneurs, & the Sharing Economy" explored how technology and social networks are converging. Organized by Christian Crews, participants used narrative foresight tools and complexity to consider changes for society and the foresight profession.

Regional Gatherings

In addition to the multi-day gatherings, regional gatherings were initiated as a trial in London in 2004, hosted by Stephen Aguillar-Milan. In 2012, these were re-instituted, with a second event in London. In 2013, events were hosted in Oxford, Perth, Houston, and Hawaii. In 2014, events were held in Cape Town and London. Then London members under the guidance of Nick Price and Andrew Curry began "Last Friday" events every other month. Topics range from Arctic futures to anticipatory futures, usually including a featured speaker.

Professional Development Seminars

Annual Professional Development seminars precede the World Futures Society's conference. After the inaugural Washington DC event in 2004, APF conducted Pro Dev events in Toronto, Minneapolis, Orlando, and twice in Chicago, Washington DC, and now San Francisco. Contact Jennifer Jarratt, Pro Dev Chair, for information.

Profutures: Futures Insights Webinars

In 2011, the APF kicked off a series of quarterly webinars. For the inaugural webinar, Andrew Curry presented The World in 2020: The Business Challenges of the Future. In 2015, events are being held quarterly. Contact Jim Breaux, Virtual Gatherings chair.

Most Significant Futures Works (MSFW)

In order to promote the futures field to the public and to recognize the work of professional futurists and others whose work illuminates one or more aspects of the future, APF selects and recognizes significant futures works. Founded in 2007, the first awards occurred in 2008. Andy Hines serves as the chair.

For the inaugural selection, only published works were eligible and included recent and classic texts. Fifty-seven publications were nominated. The top ten were recognized by the APF and can be found under MSFW History. Here's the top three.

The second round of awards was made in early 2009. Expanded to include digital publications, fourteen works were nominated. Here's the top three honors awards. 

Honorable mentions were awarded to three others, listed under MSFW History.

After the 2009 awards, a new multi-year jury-based process was adopted for the 2012 Awards. Originally called "Best Books", the awards were updated to Most Important Futures Works in 2012, and changed in 2013 to Most Significant Futures Works (MSFW). Nominations and current jury are listed here.

Student Recognition Program (SRP) 

In 2008, an annual recognition of excellence in student projects was initiated by Verne Wheelwright and Jim Mathews. Students' work has been recognized in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.  Current winners can be found here. Elizabeth Rudd serves as the SRP chair, transitioning to Jim Breaux in 2015.

Listserv Community

Since the inception of the APF, an active listserv maintained by Mark Justman connected members globally. Conversations involve APF activities, new reports and publications, members' news, and foresight conferences. Every week, provocative questions circulate on topics including the future of geopolitics, scarcity, automobiles, leisure, paper products, sports, and post-capitalism, biggest surprises of the past decade, better scenario methods, and unusual locations for a futures workshop. 

Compass Newsletter

The Compass newsletter began December 2003 and is published quarterly. Past issues can be found in the Members Only "Community" section (log-in required) and include important articles, book reviews, members' news, and APF news.  Past editors included Andy Hines, Garry Golden, and Jim Mathews. Since mid-2013, Andrew Curry has served as the Compass editor.

Twitter #futrchat and Social Media

APF held a monthly series of twitter chats from 2010 to 2012. Founded by Jennifer Jarratt and Cindy Frewen, topics have explored the future of: education, money work, transportation, big questions, disasters, relationships, personal, social & political power, limited resources, and design among others. Besides Jennifer and Cindy, Maree Conway, Guy Yeomans, Justin Pickard, Bryan Alexander, Elizabeth Merritt, and Jake Dunagan have hosted. Venessa Miemis was an invited guest for future of money. The APF twitter account, established in 2011, is @profuturists. 

In January 2012, the APF initiated a twitter hashtag #4futr to aggregate environmental scan hits. Contributions by non-members are welcome. The Profutures Daily can be found and followed here. For contributors: use #4futr to denote a scan hit, trend forecast, emerging issue, weak signal, or source for professional futures work. Trends should be longer than a year minimum.

APF began a Facebook group page in 2008, which John Mahaffie transferred to a Facebook page in 2011 and expanded to include a Professional Development page. In 2015, it became an open group (110 members at the time.) 

APF Leadership

Past board members and founding board members can be found here. Current board members can be found here. In addition to the above committee chairs, Membership is headed by Peter Bishop and Nominating Committee is led by Jennifer Jarratt.  

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