Teaching scenario analysis : an action learning pedagogy

Bradfield, Ron and Cairns, George and Wright, George (2015) Teaching scenario analysis : an action learning pedagogy. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 100. pp. 44-52. ISSN 0040-1625 (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.techfore.2015.05.005)

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In this paper we provide an introduction to our teaching of scenario analysis. Scenario analysis offers an excellent instructional vehicle for investigating 'wicked problems'; issues that are complex and ambiguous and require trans-disciplinary inquiry. We outline the pedagogical underpinning based on action learning and provide a critical approach from the intuitive logics school of scenario analysis. We use this in our programme in which student groups engage in semi-structured, but divergent and inclusive analysis of a selected focal issue. They then develop a set of scenario storylines that outline the limits of possibility and plausibility for a selected time-horizon year. The scenarios are portrayed not as narratives, but as vehicles for exploration of the causes and outcomes of the interplay between forces in the contextual environment that drive the unfolding future in the context of the focal issue. In this way, we provide internally-generated challenges to both individual pre-conceptions and group-level thinking.