Ever since I remember, I have had a strong desire to be well organised. I like to keep track of events, important dates and significant developments of my life. Apart from sticking to a planner, I would also constantly be making plans regarding my studies, work, free-time, and everything in between. Importantly, I have always had a number of different plans at hand – a plan A, B, and C. Wherever my destiny takes me, I thought, my path will not be one-dimensional nor contain only one lane. I wanted to be prepared for the different outcomes and for the possible changes any (forced) diversions from my original plan would come my way. After all, my idea about the way life proceeds was not just me rowing the boat by myself but I acknowledged that there are also other forces at play that affect the course of things.
Thinking back now, I have realised that from my early youth I internalised the idea of multiple futures. There will always be more than one possible outcome for my endeavours. However, I never realised that you could actively work to shape a desirable future. Nor was I aware of futures studies. This despite the fact that I come from a country, Finland, that has one of the world’s most famous futures institutions – the Finland Futures Research Center at University of Turku. Schools in Finland are regarded as some of the most successful in the world. This must have something to do, at least partly, with the fact that futures thinking is advocated in the Finnish schools through projects and futures-themed days. But I missed all that!
I began learning about futures only in my early 30s while children at home in Finland are raised to be aware of futures issues and methods. I had just started my PhD program in Civilisation Studies at the Institute of Alliance of Civilisation, Istanbul. I heard about a Summer School, organised annually by the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), held in Demirköy, a small town in the Kirklareli Province in the Marmara region of Turkey. I applied; and was accepted. A full day was devoted to futures studies on the programme. I remember thinking why on earth should we spend so much time discussing technology and sci-fi in a summer school that actually was focused on Islamic studies and Muslim societies. Classic mistake.