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Mapping the Future: A Forecast Lab for Tomorrow’s Europe

This content was created during a workshop at the EUSTORY Next Generation Summit 2023 "Dialogues to Remember" from 28 September to 02 October 2023 in Prague. The Summit brought together more than 100 participants from 23 countries in Europe and beyond to work together with experts from the fields of academia, journalism, education and arts to get into dialogue on questions related to history and identity as well as current social and political issues.

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We live in tumultuous times. New conflicts arise around the globe and within Europe. In this workshop we endeavoured to use our knowledge of history in an attempt to map possible futures.

Forecasting is about coming up with scenarios that seem likely and think about the probabilities of them happening. Yet the value of answers is hugely determined by how good the questions are that we ask. 

In this workshop participants entered a journey to explore possible futures in topics of their interests. First, we explored some commonplace forecasts from the media and tried to interpret what phrases like “highly likely” or “almost certain” and “unlikely” mean in different contexts. We discovered how difficult it is to gauge what such terms actually mean and how we might employ percentages to give a more meaningful answer to questions.

Forecasting and trying to predict the future with different backgrounds is difficult because things happen differently in various parts of the world.

Ana Matilde, Portugal

Then participants chose topics that interested them: Will the US or rather China emerge as a leading world power? What will the future of education and of trends in the music industry look like? We figured out the probabilities being time bound so we would know whether our predictions were right.

Participants broke up their respective topics into smaller questions and used historic analogies to get a better grasp on the topics. Based on these, they discussed their different takes and how these are influenced by their backgrounds from different countries. The final task: mapping scenarios and thinking about the probabilities of those outcomes as well as what events might indicate whether one or the other would be unfolding. We got a deeper understanding of the ambiguous nature of history as it unfolds as opposed to the one that is written about.

Workshop Insights

Video 1: Ana Matilde and María

Video 2: Tim Mattias and Isaías

I thought that predicting the future would be less science-based and more about your own opinion, but I saw there were actual methods and it’s very complicated.

Tim Mattias, Estonia

Behind the Scenes

This workshop was organised with

Daniel Vattay

Complexity Expert

Budapest, Hungary

Béla Kuslits

Policy Expert

Brussels, Belgium