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

Global trends and risks

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.

Featured in-depth research & reports

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.

Leadership

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Experts

Content

Thu, Apr 30, 2020

Engelke in CBS News about Post-Covid scenarios

In the News by Atlantic Council

China Coronavirus

Tue, Apr 28, 2020

US policymakers knew a pandemic was coming: Why they ignored the warnings

It's high time we bring the government’s decision making into the twenty-first century. The knowledge is there for how to do it. What’s our excuse as a country for ignoring it?

New Atlanticist by Mathew J. Burrows

Coronavirus United States and Canada

Fri, Apr 24, 2020

Hunter in The Ledger: Breaking our civic fever

In the News by Atlantic Council

Civil Society Coronavirus

Tue, Apr 21, 2020

Robert Manning in The Hill about the Coronavirus’ impact on China’s influence

In the News by Atlantic Council

China Coronavirus

Wed, Apr 15, 2020

Burrows joins MSNBC to discuss the global lack of preparedness for pandemics

Director of the Foresight, Strategy, and Risks Initiative, Mathew Burrows, joins MSNBC with Chuck Todd to discuss the lack of pandemic preparation throughout the US and around the world.

In the News

Fri, Apr 10, 2020

Should the European Left take on the populists at their own game?

For Medium World, Alistair Somerville and Atlantic Council Resident Fellow Julian Mueller-Kaler go head to head on whether European center-left and left wing parties should take on the right wing populists at their own game.

In the News by Atlantic Council

Economy & Business European Union
gtc picture of a globe showing china and southeast asia

Mon, Apr 6, 2020

AI & China: Smart Partnerships for Global Challenges

The Atlantic Council is honored to partner with the Rockefeller Foundation via a grant focused on data and AI efforts by China around the world. We started these activities in the middle of 2019 and they were part of a bigger plan to launch the new Atlantic Council GeoTech Center in 2020 – focused on the geopolitics of new technologies and advances in data.

Timely Commentary & Analysis by David Bray, PhD

Americas China

Sun, Apr 5, 2020

Robert Manning in Global Times about the necessity of US – China cooperation on Coronavirus

In the News by Atlantic Council

China Coronavirus

Fri, Apr 3, 2020

Mat Burrows quoted in Politico Nightly Coronavirus Special Edition

In the News by Atlantic Council

Coronavirus Economy & Business
AI Policy Primer 2020 Peter

Fri, Mar 27, 2020

AI, society and governance: An introduction

AI’s increasing range of applications are having real-world consequences, both positive and negative. Those consequences, in turn, have animated spirited and at times emotional debates about how governments can craft policies to come to grips with a world increasingly shaped by AI.

In-Depth Research & Reports by Peter Engelke

China Digital Policy