Foresight for Complex Public Policy Problems


Strategic foresight focuses on a system, identifies the forces shaping that system, explores how the system could evolve and the challenges and opportunities that could emerge. This work provides a solid foundation for policy analysis, strategy development and vision-building.

There is considerable research to show that successful decision-makers have mental models of the system(s) they manage. They use these mental models to consider options, run "mental movies" and make decisions. While it is not usually acknowledged, ultimately the most important product of good foresight is to broaden and deepen the mental models of policy and decision-makers.

This course introduces the foresight field and focus on a foresight method that supports our amazing capacity to visualize change. The tools that will be used are qualitative and often visual. The approach of "learning-by-doing" will be utilized to complete a simple foresight project. The foresight method used in this course, will focus on rigorous and systematic imagining to strengthen our mental models, and explore how complex public policy problems could evolve.


Learning Outcomes

  • Discuss the concept of foresight and how it is used.
  • Understand some key foresight tools including assumption surfacing and testing, strategic framing, horizon scanning, system mapping, identifying change drivers, guided imaging
  • Appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of several common scenario techniques while focusing on system-based scenarios.



  • Anyone involved in policy analysis, strategic planning, decision support, risk assessment, or management will benefit from foresight to help them be more strategic. Suitable for both junior and senior professionals who want better tools to cope with uncertainty and complexity.



12 hours



  • $995 (plus tax)


Featured Instructor

Peter Padbury is one of Canada's most experienced futurists. Over his career, he led hundreds of foresight projects that developed vision, policy and strategy with federal government departments, NGOs, business and UN agencies on a wide range of themes – from the future of primary health care in Asia to the future of the UN Security Council. Between 2008 and 2021, he was Chief Futurist at Policy Horizons Canada, one of the world's leading government foresight centers. At Horizons he led, co-led or coached a number of scanning and foresight projects using the 'Horizons Method", a unique foresight process especially suited to complex public policy questions.



Event CodeTitleBegin DateEnd DateTermDelivery MethodRegister to Event
S00472211AForesight for Complex Public Policy Problems11/28/202212/1/2022AutumnOnlineRegister to Event