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

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

Leadership

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Experts

Content

State on the cusp

Fri, Oct 23, 2020

States on the cusp: Overcoming illicit trade’s corrosive effects in developing economies

The report “States on the cusp” explores the complex ways in which the illicit trade in otherwise licit goods (including alcohol, pharmaceuticals, luxury goods, cigarettes, electronics, and much more) threatens the stability, security, and prosperity of vulnerable states around the world, especially in the Global South. This groundbreaking study at the nexus of illicit trade, organized crime, and official corruption proposes actionable solutions for combating illicit trade and bringing states back from the cusp of functionality.

Report by Mark Shaw, Tuesday Reitano, Simone Haysom, Peter Tinti

Corruption Economy & Business

Thu, Oct 15, 2020

Manning on Asian Insider: Quad not an Indo-Pacific NATO

In the News by Atlantic Council

Australia China

Thu, Sep 24, 2020

Hunter in The Hill: Businesses don’t operate in a financial vacuum —don’t hamstring pension managers

In the News

Economy & Business United States and Canada

Mon, Sep 14, 2020

Manning in The Hill: Is Trump following in Nixon’s footsteps?

Bob considers Trump’s mirroring of Nixon’s foreign policy strategy to reduce US troop presence overseas and hold allies more accountable. More about our expert

In the News by Atlantic Council

China Economy & Business

Sat, Sep 12, 2020

Manning in VOA: What is the “North Korea Problem” of the United Nations General Assembly?

In the News by Atlantic Council

Economic Sanctions Korea

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

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

Wed, Aug 19, 2020

German politics heats up

For the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies, Atlantic Council Resident Fellow Julian Mueller-Kaler joins AICGS’ Jeff Rathke and Eric Langenbacher for a new episode of the Zeitgeist, to talk about German political dynamics, the Social Democratic Party, and Merkel's ending tenure.

In the News by Atlantic Council

Democratic Transitions Elections

Mon, Aug 17, 2020

Burrows and Manning in The National Interest: What happens when America is no longer the undisputed super power?

In the News by Atlantic Council

China Europe & Eurasia

Thu, Aug 6, 2020

Robert Manning quoted in Straits Times on US-China tensions and Taiwan

In the News by Atlantic Council

China Politics & Diplomacy