The Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security works to develop sustainable, nonpartisan strategies to address the most important security challenges facing the United States and the world.

What is strategic foresight?

Foresight is a tool for peering into the future. Pioneered decades ago by public and private sector organizations alike, foresight is a practice area which maps, assesses and forecasts future trends and their interaction. It is an iterative game, which thrives on diversity of input and perspectives, and an essential first step in developing strategies to deal with alternative futures. In a world that is always changing, we believe foresight should become a global mindset.

For a decade, the Atlantic Council’s Foresight, Strategy, and Risks Initiative (FSR) has been a global leader in the strategic foresight space. Under the direction of Dr. Mathew Burrows, who formerly led the National Intelligence Council’s quadrennial Global Trends studies, FSR has identified the world’s key trends and uncertainties and charted pathways to a more prosperous, stable, and peaceful future. FSR is considered a gold standard foresight practice within the United States and around the world.

The issues

FSR Webpage Global Trends

The new decade is in rapid flux and is characterized by geopolitical turbulence, economic complexity, technological disruption, demographic shifts and social interconnectedness. In this changing environment, we focus on identifying the key trends and risks which will fundamentally shape the future of humanity and global affairs. Our work encompasses a wide range of issues, from demography and urbanization to migration, power transitions and global governance, but is always driven by the principle that foresight is a key mindset for decision-making.

FSR Webpage Tech

Technology and innovation

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is already underway. Technological development will fundamentally alter the global geopolitical landscape by changing governance structures, challenging human ingenuity and demanding innovative policy responses. Our team analyzes the political, socioeconomic, ecological, and security implications of emerging technologies, maps the evolution of innovation ecosystems and distills blueprints for entrepreneurship, in the Unites States and globally.

FSR Webpage Geopolitics


The global power shift towards Asia, the United States’ relative decline and the emergence of transnational threats such as climate change are pulling at the threads of the post-World War II international system. Our team’s research discerns the outline of the dawning multipolar order by exploring power transitions, geopolitical shifts, and civil society movements. At the same time, we seek to challenge the assumptions which have been underpinning US foreign policy for the last 70 years and adapt them for current times.

FSR Webpage Nontrad Security

Non-traditional security challenges

In the 21st century, the definition of security and its global architecture are changing under the pressure of transnational, non-traditional threats such as migration, climate change and inequality, in an unresponsive global governance system. FSR is reframing security policy paradigms by bringing into the fold cutting-edge issues such as environmental security, peacebuilding, resilience and illicit trade, and providing policy solutions for the international community, states and citizens.

The Initiative leverages in-house expertise and cutting-edge tools such as data analytics, modeling, and simulations to provide pioneering research and analysis about the most important challenges of today and tomorrow.

What world post-COVID-19? interview series

This interview series features insights from FSR’s nonresident senior fellows, a set of experts drawn from across a wide range of fields, discussing the potential impacts of COVID-19.

us navy military what world post-covid 19 kim roberts

Mon, Jul 20, 2020

What world post COVID-19?: A conversation with Dr. Kim Roberts

Dr. Kim Roberts, security studies expert, discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed thinking around national security and the US role in the world, and outlines the uncertainties ahead.

Blog Post by Anca Agachi, Peter Engelke

China Coronavirus

Thu, Jul 23, 2020

What world post COVID-19?: A conversation with Mr. Greg Lindsay

Greg Lindsay, director of applied research at NewCities, outlines the implications of the pandemic for the future of cities and shares suggestions for how communities could emerge from this crisis stronger than before.

Blog Post by Peter Engelke, Anca Agachi

Civil Society Climate Change & Climate Action

Wed, Jul 29, 2020

What world post COVID-19?: A conversation with Dr. Joe Mascaro

Dr. Joe Mascaro, director of education and research at Planet, discusses the effects of the pandemic on the environment, and its implications for energy transitions and earth sciences research.

Blog Post by Peter Engelke, Anca Agachi

Climate Change & Climate Action Coronavirus

Thu, Aug 20, 2020

What world post COVID-19?: A conversation with Dr. Conrad Tucker

Dr. Conrad Tucker, professor of mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, explains how the pandemic is changing the conversations around higher education and emerging technologies.

Blog Post by Peter Engelke, Anca Agachi

Coronavirus Education

Thu, Sep 3, 2020

What world post COVID-19?: A conversation with Mr. John Raidt

Mr. John Raidt, security and public policy expert and practitioner, discusses political dysfunction in the US and the need for democratic renewal in light of the pandemic.

Blog Post by Peter Engelke, Anca Agachi

China Civil Society


Sign up for the FSR newsletter!

Sign up for the Foresight, Strategy and Risks newsletter to remain up to date with our events, publications, and much more! Learn about global risks, technology, emerging security issues, and geopolitics, and discover how current events fit into long-term trends.



Sun, Jun 27, 2021

Burrows in Lawfare: How the United States can compete with Chinese influence in Southeast Asia

In the News by Atlantic Council

China English

Tue, Jun 22, 2021

Manning and Eftimiades in SpyTalk on false rumors of a high-level Chinese defector

Senior Fellow Robert Manning and Forward Defense Nonresident Senior Fellow Nicholas Eftimiades interviewed by SpyTalk in an article titled "Feds: we don’t have Chinese defector Dong Jingwei."

In the News by Atlantic Council

China Intelligence

Wed, Jun 16, 2021

Burrows mentioned in the Politico Playbook

On June 16, Dr. Mathew Burrows’s new report co-authored with Denver University’s Pardee Center on US and Chinese influence was mentioned in the Politico Playbook.

In the News by Atlantic Council

China English

Wed, Jun 16, 2021

IN BRIEF: Fifteen takeaways from our new report measuring US and Chinese global influence

The Formal Bilateral Influence Capacity (FBIC) Index tracks and quantifies the intensifying competition between China and the United States, measuring influence between pairs of states over the last six decades through the volume of their interactions and the dependence that countries have on one another.

Report by Jonathan D. Moyer, Collin J. Meisel, Austin S. Matthews, David K. Bohl, and Mathew J. Burrows

China Politics & Diplomacy

Fri, Jun 4, 2021

LeVine in Medium’s The Mobilist: Everyone will want to charge their vehicles fast, these entrepreneurs bet

In the News by Atlantic Council

Americas Energy & Environment

Mon, May 31, 2021

Burrows quoted in the Financial Times: How Biden came around to the Wuhan lab-leak theory

On May 31, Dr. Mathew Burrows was quoted in a Financial Times article about Biden’s decision to direct intelligence services to investigate the origins of COVID.

In the News by Atlantic Council

China Coronavirus

Fri, May 7, 2021

Why the U.S. and China may chill

For The Next Zeitgeist, Dr. Mathew Burrows, Director of the Atlantic Council's Foresight, Strategy and Risks Initiative, and Atlantic Council Resident Fellow Julian Mueller-Kaler game out a world beyond the current trajectory that could be defined by an opposing idea: a long period of Sino-U.S. cooperation.

In the News by Atlantic Council

China Economy & Business

Tue, Apr 27, 2021

The case for a more realist China policy

For Georgetown University's Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, Dr. Mathew Burrows, Director of the Atlantic Council's Foresight, Strategy and Risks Initiative, and Atlantic Council Resident Fellow Julian Mueller-Kaler argue that it is high time to understand that by any measure, from demographics to economics, the world is no longer Western centric and that US strategy must be forward looking, not rest on past laurels.

In the News by Atlantic Council

China Conflict

Wed, Apr 21, 2021

2025 Post-Covid Scenarios: Latin America and the Caribbean

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has found that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the worst economic decline in Latin America and the Caribbean in two hundred years. In addition to its economic toll, the pandemic has had a devastating impact on the region’s society and health systems. Although the region represents just 8 percent […]

In-Depth Research & Reports by Pepe Zhang, Peter Engelke

Americas Coronavirus

Fri, Apr 16, 2021

Pavel and Burrows in CNN: There will be no graceful exit from the Covid-19 pandemic

On April 16, 2021, CNN published an article by Barry Pavel and Dr. Mathew Burrows “There will be no graceful exit from the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Article by Barry Pavel, Mathew Burrows

Coronavirus English