ES.256 | Spring 2008 | Undergraduate
The Coming Years


1 The recent past and the near future  
2 Techniques in futurology

Download and install Vensim for Windows or Mac.

Play with the World3 Model. Use the SynthSim function, the summary page (at the end), and the sliders. Look for conditions that provide for a better Human Welfare Index by 2100.

Write a portrait of college life in 2028. (Half a page.)

3 Historigraphic theories: class struggle, cycles, and paradigm shifts

Make a cyclic system in Vensim (choose your own system to model; the examples included with the software might be helpful).

Write a portrait of college life in 2028. (Half a page.)

4 Catastrophic change, power laws, and fractals  
5 Disasters and collapses: nuclear war, global warming, peak oil, bioterrorism Explore links on the Risks to civilization, humans and planet Earth Wikipedia article.
6 The singularity Write one page on an extreme scenario—either a disaster (collapse) or a utopian revolution.
7 World changing, revelations, and revolutions  
8 Future politics Excerpts from Mapping the Global Future (PDF - 7.3MB) The Executive Summary, Chapters 1 (“The Contradictions of Globalization”) and 2 (“Rising Powers: The Changing Geopolitical Landscape”).
9 Society in motion  
10 Science and technology Find a collection of data going back at least 40 years and graph it. Label interesting features on it. Extrapolate it 20 years according two two scenarios of your choice.
11 Economics and demographics  
12 Describing the future  
13 Memetics  
14 Final project presentations For the last five weeks of the semester, out-of-class time will be largely used for working on a final project. Each student or group of students will choose a project, which must have a simulation component, a creative component, and a research component.
Course Info
As Taught In
Spring 2008
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