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Archive for the ‘Futures Thinking’ Category



Glasgow 2020 set out with a belief in the power and importance of story – of story as a way to develop mass imagination, to contribute towards the reimagining of Glasgow and the articulation of a non-institutional view of the city, and to further the understanding and practice of futures literacy.

There are numerous ways of developing creative discussion and dialogue. Many of these are used in scenario planning, forecasting and strategic corporate decision-making. Such techniques include the idea of the ‘strategic conversation’ which in the words of Peter Schwartz is based on ‘continuous organisational learning about key decisions and priorities.’ Then there is the idea of ‘civic conversations’, which has been recently put forward by Anthony Grayling, and which has been utilised in places to advance a professional and institutional process about better public policy and delivery. These approaches both have their places, particularly in institutional settings. Read the rest of this entry »


When the mood of the music changes, the walls of the city shake.

Late 1960s slogan, attributed to Plato


The first step to a better future is imagining one. Glasgow 2020 has been a practical experiment to find an alternative to the closed city by opening up Glasgow’s future to the mass imagination of its citizens. This chapter shares the storylines generated for the future of Glasgow and explores what it and other cities can learn from the process. It then asks how bottom-up storylines can be turned into action and begins to map out the core components of what it would mean for a place to become a more open city in terms of everyday governance, culture, design and planning. It concludes by identifying a number of places of hope and imagination in the city and sketches out the notion of ‘assemblies of hope’ as one vessel to carry forth and nurture change. Read the rest of this entry »

‘an enticing mixture of fiction and commentary in the model of a ‘European’ cultural production’.

Richard Parry, Scottish Affairs

Scotland 2020: The Power of Hope

Gerry Hassan and Eddie Gibb

A unique feature of human consciousness is its inclusion of the future. Expectations strongly affect all aspects of human functioning. . . . Hope inspires a feeling of well-being and is a spur to action. Hopelessness, the inability to imagine a tolerable future, is a powerful motive for suicide.

Jerome Frank, ‘The role of hope in psychotherapy’ (1)


Scotland is a nation of narrators who tell and retell each other stories that turn into modern myths. Some myths have a power that changes behaviour: the Tartan Army have told themselves that they are the best football fans in the world so often that they have created a collective culture that promotes good behaviour among travelling supporters. In this essay, we consider how the stories Scotland tells about itself today have a bearing on tomorrow. Read the rest of this entry »

That was Then and This is Now: Imagining new stories about a northern nation

Gerry Hassan

Scotland has changed in the last 20 years. It has been transformed economically, socially, culturally and politically. It has a degree of self-government and a new set of political institutions. However, the way we think of and describe Scotland has not undergone a similar change; instead it is still rooted in a romanticised rose-tinted view of a past Scotland that is now long since gone.

This chapter looks at the extent of change in Scotland over this period and the kind of changes which may occur in the future. It argues that the idea of story and storytelling is a rich and illuminating way to understand Scotland. The stories we Scots tell each other, that we choose to believe and not to believe, help to create our collective mindset. And crucial to far-reaching change in Scotland is the need for a new story. Read the rest of this entry »

Scotland in the Global Age: Rethinking Ukania, Europe and the New International Order

Tom Nairn and George Kerevan in conversation

This is a longer version of a conversation of which an abridged edition appeared in Gerry Hassan, Eddie Gibb and Lydia Howland (eds), Scotland 2020: Hopeful Stories for a Northern Nation, Demos 2005.

October 5th 2004

Dear Tom,

I feel like an old soldier parading for the Armistice, medals proudly on show, but just a bit quizzical about what we achieved in the conflict. For you and I are battle-scarred veterans of the Second Devolutionary War. The one that ran from the failure of the first devolution referendum in 1979, to the final victory and restoration of the Scottish Parliament in 1999. Read the rest of this entry »

The People’s Flag and the Union Jack: An Alternative History of Britain and the Labour Party
Gerry Hassan is a writer, commentator and thinker about Scotland, the UK, politics and ideas. more >
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