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

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

Tue, Feb 2, 2021

Three possible futures for the Biden presidency

Biden’s successes or failures will be determined by how the paradoxes of his presidency play out. The president is pursuing an extraordinarily ambitious social, economic, and foreign-policy agenda amid an exceptionally dire pandemic and recession—and with a razor-thin congressional majority, no less. He hopes to restore comity and bipartisan compromise to Congress, but his legislative skills will be tested by an obstinate Republican Party and worsening political tribalism.

New Atlanticist by Mathew Burrows, Robert A. Manning

Crisis Management Elections

Tue, Jan 12, 2021

Smart partnerships amid great power competition

The report captures key takeaways from various roundtable conversations, identifies the challenges and opportunities that different regions of the world face when dealing with emerging technologies, and evaluates China’s role as a global citizen. In times of economic decoupling and rising geopolitical bipolarity, it highlights opportunities for smart partnerships, describes how data and AI applications can be harnessed for good, and develops scenarios on where an AI-powered world might be headed.

In-Depth Research & Reports by Mathew Burrows, Julian Mueller-Kaler

Africa Americas

Tue, Jan 12, 2021

Cooperation in a bipolar world

Taking into account China’s growing influence around the world, discussions often alluded to an uncomfortable truth: In order to avoid catastrophe, even rivals must cooperate, which is why participants, particularly at roundtables in Europe, were keen to identify a number of areas that could lower the tensions and help build trust among antagonistic stakeholders.

GeoTech Cues by Mathew Burrows, Julian Mueller-Kaler

Africa China

Tue, Jan 12, 2021

An unequal world

An unequal world is probably the base case, exacerbated by the social and economic effects of the ongoing pandemic. In this future, emerging technologies have deepened divisions and inequalities instead of leveling the playing field domestically and internationally.

GeoTech Cues by Mathew Burrows, Julian Mueller-Kaler

Africa China

Tue, Jan 12, 2021

India’s quest for digital sovereignty

Similar to Europe’s “Third Way Approach,” and in order to navigate between the US and the Chinese models, India is also trying to develop a concept of digital sovereignty, all the while mitigating negative externalities of great power competition.

GeoTech Cues by Mathew Burrows, Julian Mueller-Kaler

Africa China

Tue, Jan 12, 2021

Worries about AI externalities

There is no doubt that emerging technologies have gained significant importance over the last couple of years, but a sense of caution is required when it comes to the hype surrounding AI. Technologies have so far remained a tool and their applications won’t be solving all of humanity’s problems anytime soon.

GeoTech Cues by Mathew Burrows, Julian Mueller-Kaler

Africa China

Tue, Jan 12, 2021

Technology for good

By focusing on healthcare, food security and agriculture, education, or infrastructure, global AI competition could be given a very different spin, mitigating the rivalry aspect of politics. How modern technologies should be centered on serving those broader global interests was at the core of the discussions in the roundtable focused on Africa.

GeoTech Cues by Mathew Burrows, Julian Mueller-Kaler

Africa China

Tue, Jan 12, 2021

A bipolar world

A Bipolar World is where Sino-US competition edges out any possibility of cooperation—not just on data and AI. Countries in Europe and Asia are forced to choose between Washington and Beijing while desperately trying to develop their own digital sovereignty.

GeoTech Cues by Mathew Burrows, Julian Mueller-Kaler

Africa China

Tue, Jan 12, 2021

A multilateral resurgence

A multilateral resurgence is a world that evolves after significant Sino-US confrontations occur on the scale of the 1963 Cuban Missile Crisis. Post-pandemic, both the United States and China step back from the precipice, realizing that their unrestrained, full-spectrum competition with one another could lead to disaster and mutual destruction.

GeoTech Cues by Mathew Burrows, Julian Mueller-Kaler

Africa Americas

Tue, Jan 12, 2021

Third parties don’t want to choose sides

Many worry about what could follow Pax Americana, especially since providing global security has always been a costly endeavor. A European Union (EU) approach was that Europe could serve as a bridge between the United States and China, somehow mitigating the ever-intensifying rivalry.

GeoTech Cues by Mathew Burrows, Julian Mueller-Kaler

Africa China