First International Conference on ANTICIPATION

The UNESCO Chair in Anticipatory Systems, together with WAAS-World Academy of Art and Science, ISSS-International Society for the Systems Sciences, the Advanced Design Network, and the Department of Sociology and Social Sciences of the University of Trento, organized the 

First International Conference on


5-7 November 2015, Trento (Italy) 

Anticipation is coming to the fore as an emerging field of study that is influencing a wide variety of disciplines. This international conference will explore the interaction among anticipation, uncertainty and complexity. Some questions that we intend to raise are these: When does anticipation occur in behavior and life? What types of anticipation can be distinguished? What structures and processes are necessary for anticipatory action? How can anticipation be modeled? A better and more complete understanding of anticipation and its effects will improve theories and models of individual and collective human behavior and its consequences. The ability to anticipate in complex environments may improve the resilience of societies facing threats from a global proliferation of agents and forces by articulating uncertainties through anticipatory processes.

Why a Conference on Anticipation?

Anticipation is increasingly at the heart of urgent contemporary debates, from climate change to economic crisis. As societies are less confident that tradition will provide an effective guide to the future, anticipatory practices are coming to the foreground of political, organizational and personal life. Research into anticipation, however, has not kept pace with social demand for insights into these practices, their risks and their uses. Where research does exist, it is deeply fragmented.

This conference’s main aim was therefore to serve as a point of encounter and exchange among scholars form different disciplines, helping them to develop a fuller understanding of the centrality of anticipation to human behaviour. As a medium to long-term consequence, a research base may be developed capable of assessing and enhancing the potential of anticipatory practices for individuals, organisations and society.

This is is an urgent task because understanding diverse anticipatory assumptions can enhance mutual understanding and cooperation among stakeholders; while critical reflection upon anticipatory practices can enhance insights into potential side-effects of policies and actions, decreasing the time to the citizens of policy actions, and making more effective the overall policy production process.

A better and more complete understanding of anticipation and its effects will improve theories and models of individual and collective human behaviour and its consequences. The arising benefits will thus assist those who are explicitly seeking to understand and design ‘the prepared society’, to make more effective and sustainable use of technologies, to create more inclusive democracies and to explore the boundaries of human endeavours. Such benefits are consistent with the strategy for a smart, sustainable and inclusive society. Further, the ability to anticipate in complex (self-generating, unpredictable) environments greatly improves the resilience of societies facing threats from a global proliferation of institutions, agents and forces, by articulating insecurities through anticipatory processes. 

Featured WAAS Sessions

Anticipation as Deep Driver for a New Paradigm

Bring Forth Futures

Other Featured Sessions

Other Topics of Interest

  • Anticipation in the human and social sciences
  • Anticipation and decision-making
  • Anticipation and global social challenges 
  • Anticipatory governance and resilience of societies
  • Anticipation and Futures Studies
  • Anticipation in fiction, the arts, design and gaming
  • Modeling anticipation.

Invited Speakers: Arjun Appaduray, Jens Beckert, Julian Bleecker, Riel Miller, Martin Seligman, and Olin Wright.

Program Committee: Roberto Poli (chair), Flaviano Celaschi, Keri Facer, Garry Jacobs, John Kineman, and Giuseppe Sciortino.

The Conference's Program Committee invites proposals for sessions to be held in conjunction with the main conference. The session program will provide venues for community-building activities, focused discussions, and constructive interactions on current or emerging topics of interest (further details are available here).

Recognising the importance of Anticipation, special Issues of the Journals Axiomathes, Cadmus, European Journal of Futures Research, and Futures will be published from peer reviewed conference contributions.

For more information, pl visit the Project Anticipation webpage

Anticipation as Deep Driver for a New Paradigm

Paradigm change is driven by circumstances and events shaped in the past. But a deterministic view of history overlooks the immense importance of anticipation as a driver for evolutionary and revolutionary change. Paradigm change actually occurs only when a new vision emerges of the nature of reality -- whether physical, social or intellectual -- which is translated into a new organization of values, ideas, knowledge, or social activity. At the same time, paradigm change is impeded by the inordinate importance accorded to current centers of power, prevailing forms of social organization, vested interests and the momentum of pre-existing conditions. These forces tend to blind us to the very possibility of radical change until after it has already occurred.

This session explores the potential applications of the emerging discipline of Anticipation to advance the research program on social paradigm change conducted over the past three years by the World Academy of Art & Science. It will examine the role of anticipation in framing the movement toward a new paradigm in human development capable of effectively addressing the pressing challenges confronting humanity today. Topics will include

  • The power of ideas to change the world
  • Values of drivers of change
  • The revolution of rising expectations
  • The role of the visionary individual as catalyst for change


Garry Jacobs, Chief Executive Officer, World Academy of Art and Science; Chairman of the Board of Directors, World University Consortium; Editor, Cadmus Journal; Vice President, The Mother’s Service Society, a social science research institute (India).

Winston Nagan, Samuel T. Dell Research Scholar Professor of Law, Levin College of Law (University of Florida); Founding Director, Institute for Human Rights and Peace Development; Chairman of the Board of Trustees, World Academy of Art and Science.

To submit an abstract to this workshop send a mail to Garry Jacobs

Bring Forth Futures

There is a growing consensus that we are going through what many refer to as a ‘great transformation’ from an epoch based on the exploitation of nature for the benefit of a few to an epoch that can, hopefully, be more sustainable and just. To defuse a narrow set of monopolizing discourses that tend to colonize the visions of global futures, we need multitudes of voices to claim, create, and bring forth their own and more spirited futures. The voices that currently dominate the discussion tend to be from regions located mainly in the global North where there are well-resourced institutions of higher learning and relatively easy access to publication outlets. This impoverishes the global discourses that shape the way futures and transition dynamics are anticipated. This raises challenging questions about what we imagine to be the key agents of change. Fresh voices tend to come exactly from such peripheral places and geo-political and socio-cultural interstices. In anticipation, we ask: Whose futures? Who decides on the most appropriate futures? What kind of individual does it take to carry out comprehensive socio-cultural transformation? As a gathering and coalescing of visionary voices from and across a vast range of regions, disciplines, and domains to address a spectrum of relationships from individual and collective conditions, to other life forms, and our shared environment, this session seeks to harness the energies of both mythical envisioning, science fiction foresight, scientific analysis and philosophical inquiry. We want to summon the voices that speak of the probable, possible, unforeseen, unthinkable, emerging and unknown - the voices that have the courage, the passion, and the vision to anticipate, create, and bring forth their futures on the living horizon.

The objective of the session is to explore this theme from the perspective of the emerging discipline of anticipation to engender a global research effort that results in a book that brings together a wide range of voices on the future. The core question that will be addressed is as follows: it is 2050 and you are looking back on the year 2015 - ‘what would I have liked to say in 2015 about the future and the transition that needed to take place?’


Prof. Mark Swilling, University of Stellenbosch

Dr. Mila Popovich, University of Colorado at Boulder; Associate Fellow, World Academy of Art and Science; Associate Expert, European Commission

To submit an abstract to this workshop send a mail to Mila Popovich

Garry Jacobs
Anticipation as Deep Driver for a New Paradigm

Garry Jacobs
Anticipation as a trans-disciplinary driver of social evolution

Alberto Zucconi
Anticipatory Value of Person-Centered & People-Centered Approaches

Winston Nagan
Anticipation, Law, Prediction and Problem Solving

Eric Hoedl
European Union's Long-term Anticipation Studies
2025, 2030, and 2050

Neantro Saavedra-Rivano
First Elements Towards the Foundations on an Anticipatory Approach in Economics

Mila Popovich
Bring Forth Futures

Zbigniew Bochniarz
Shared-Value Based Education

Gerald Gutenshwager
Collective Anticipation: Art or Science, or Both?

Carlos Pereira
Untying Gridlocks: Changing our Hermeneutics to Bifurcate for Good

Dave Snowden
From anticipation to triggering anticipatory awareness