Futuring Papers

Please Click Here to view a synthesis of the findings from the futuring papers conducted by the Strategic Planning Steering Committee during Fall 2016. The synthesis focused on identifying patterns in the current and future forces across all of the papers with attention given to similarities and differences in the academic disciplines and across the institution. Implications were assessed in a similar manner. A long list of opportunities and recommended actions were identified for further refinement at the December 2016 workshops. Finally, clusters of emerging strategies were isolated for consideration. This document contains the results of the synthesis.

You may read the futuring papers prepared by our UAlbany colleagues in their entirety should you so wish. Each link in the table below opens up to a paper.

Scroll down for more information about the futuring process.

Cross-cutting/Disciplinary Area Convener(s) Unit e-mail address
Excellence in Research Alan Lizotte Criminal Justice alizotte@albany.edu
Lawrence Schell Anthropology lmschell@albany.edu
Culture of Academic Excellence David Hochfelder History dhochfelder@albany.edu
Christine Wagner Psychology cwagner@albany.edu
Administrative & Service Excellence Janet Marler Management jmarler@albany.edu
Theresa Pardo Center for Technology in Government tpardo@albany.edu
Role of Arts & Humanities in the Public University Daniel Goodwin Art & Art History dgoodwin@albany.edu
Sheila Curran Bernard History sbernard@albany.edu
Public Engagement Janine Jurkowski Health Policy, Management & Behavior jjurkowski@albany.edu
Hal Lawson Educational Administration & Policy Studies/ Social Welfare hlawson@albany.edu
Internationalization Harvey Charles Center for International Education & Global Strategy hcharles@albany.edu
Steven Messner Sociology smessner@albany.edu
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Michelle Harris Africana Studies maharris@albany.edu
Vivien Ng Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies vng@albany.edu
Changing Nature of Learning Trudi Jacobson University Libraries tjacobson@albany.edu
Michael Jaromin Student Involvement & Leadership mjaromin@albany.edu
Arts & Humanities Rachel Dressler Art and Art History rdressler@albany.edu
Lotfi Sayahi Languages, Literatures, & Cultures lsayahi@albany.edu
Natural Sciences James Schwab Atmospheric Sciences Research Center jschwab@albany.edu
Social Sciences Nancy Denton Sociology ndenton@albany.edu
Robert Miller Social Welfare rmiller@albany.edu
Business Suraj Commuri Marketing scommuri@albany.edu
Michael Sattinger Economics msattinger@albany.edu
Education & Social Welfare Nancy Claiborne Social Welfare nclaiborne@albany.edu
Virginia Goatley Literacy Teaching & Learning vgoatley@albany.edu
Engineering & Technology Ken Halvorsen RNA Institute khalvorsen@albany.edu
Siwei Lyu Computer Science slyu@albany.edu
Government, Public Affairs & Policy Kathryn Schiller Educational Administration & Policy Studies kschiller@albany.edu
Patricia Strach Political Science pstrach@albany.edu
Criminal Justice, Law, & Security - Part 1 | Part 2 James Acker Criminal Justice jacker@albany.edu
Matthew Ingram Political Science mingram@albany.edu
Health Sciences & Public Health Mary Gallant Health Policy, Management & Behavior mgallant@albany.edu
Ben Szaro Biological Sciences bszaro@albany.edu
Analytics & Data Science Catherine Lawson Geography and Planning lawsonc@albany.edu
Benjamin Shaw Health Policy, Management & Behavior bashaw@albany.edu


About the Futuring Papers

Considering the pull of the future has become increasingly important in strategic planning. Institutions must think on the edge of their cultures when facing considerable change. Being able to tell stories about how the future could and should be different from the past, and what new behaviors will be needed to achieve that change is an important part of moving forward. In Albany’s planning process, the challenge was to envision a 10–year future for learning, work, and professional practice, and then “plan from that future backward.” Working through a collection of futuring papers was intended to ensure that the planning process considers many possibilities.

Image of the Futuring White Papers

The development of a futuring paper starts with a review of the forces that are acting in the current environment, both those that are potentially accelerating change and those that are inhibiting it. We also take into account the peripheral and emerging forces that may not be fully recognizable at the current time. The amount of detail applied to this force analysis can vary greatly.

The next step is to leap forward to the future. The graphic above shows a 10–year leap, which makes sense for alot of applications. It is far enough in the future to escape the temptation to merely project or extrapolate current trajectories, but not so far a leap that the future is wholly unimaginable. This time period for the leap forward varies depending on the planning context. When considering the future of technologies, a shorter time frame works because the pace of technological change is rapid and very dynamic. When considering more stable, laminar change as we see in urban planning, building construction, or in certain academic disciplines, we often take a longer time frame. We expect to focus more effort on those forces that are expected to disappear and even more on those that will appear to be new and potentially impactful. Tapping into others’ research on future trends to help stimulate thinking and provoke fresh insights.

The third step in the process is to step back, review the forces that emerged in the first two steps, and to begin to think about and list the implications and opportunities that arise. The ultimate goal of this step is to paint pictures of possible futures by forecasting how the forces and implications may converge and understanding the associated likelihoods. A key activity here is to list as many opportunities for the future as possible that emerge from the potential future forces.

Finally, the fourth step is to plan from the future backward. With a large number of potential implications and opportunities now under consideration, planning can be brought back to today. How do the forces, implications, and opportunities impact the decisions and actions that need to be taken now? Over the next three years? Or over an even a longer planning horizon? The level of detail in this step can vary greatly as well from a quick review of a number of lists and clusters on one end of the spectrum to fully expanded ideas on the other.

The futuring activity was conducted by writing teams assigned both in disciplinary clusters and in cross­cutting areas impacting the entire university. There are four main sections to the document, one for each of the four futuring questions. A workshop was held in September 2016 to launch the process, and teams had three weeks to consult with their colleagues to collect and draft the summaries.