Turning the affected into the involved was one of Robert Jungk’s main goals. Together with Norbert Müllert, he developed a method meant to include citizens constructively and creatively, to enable them to devise their own ideas. The idea is that the future is best to be built by the ones who will be most affected by the changing world.
The Workshops started in the early 1960s. Back then, it became obvious that knowledge of the future’s possibilities means power. Consequently, the economy and industry, state and military, the government and political parties had experts create a future convenient for them. Those in power took care that future was depicted and developed rather one-sidedly. The ones primarily affected, however, had hardly any influence.
Robert Jungk was convinced that different futures are thinkable and possible, that Future Workshops would pose a counterweight: they would evoke peoples’ self-confidence and create a source for the support of citizen’s initiatives, actions, and broad involvement in the transformation of society. He started experimenting on how average citizens could develop and voice their own ideas. The book Zukunftswerkstätten [Future Workshops] describes both the method and its philosophical background. Originally published in 1981 in German, it was subsequently translated into several languages.
The technique is meant to shed light on a particular situation, to generate visions, and to discuss how they can be realized. The method includes a triad, starting with “stock taking” (the criticism phase), followed by the development of ideas for the future (the utopia phase) and specific action steps (the realization phase). Such workshops are a well-tried method in various countries, used in adult education, organizational development and in political co-determination processes. JBZ has implemented more than 100 projects so far, with moderators developing innovative ideas together with citizens, reaching from topics such as sustainable area development to future of the work environment. In Germany, similar activities are co-ordinated by Zukunftswerkstätten – Verein zur Förderung demokratischer Zukunftsgestaltung www.zukunftswerkstaetten-verein.de