Welcome to Foresight For Development

Dr Sarah Paige

Futurist Profile

 

Dr Sarah Paige

Health Geographer: University of Wisconsin-Madison

Education: PhD, MPH

Sarah directs the social science field operations for the Kibale EcoHealth Project and the Gates Foundation-funded, “Holoflops to prevent hookworm” study, both based in western Uganda. She is committed to a relational global health ethic; one which strives to ensure respect and empathy between scientist and subject in under-served and under-resourced communities. Her wish is to be a part of the movement that ends the Ebola crisis.

 

Sarah answered a few questions about her perspective and on being a futures thinker.

ABOUT YOU AS A FUTURES THINKER / PRACTITIONER

You identify yourself as an African futures thinker or practitioner. How would you describe to the woman or man on the street what it is that you do in this regard?

As an Africa Futures Thinker, I challenge the global stereotypes about Africa as being ‘The Dark Continent’ by sharing myriad examples of brilliance I’ve encountered working on the continent. I find that stereotypes are best undone by real life, personal examples of the opposite.

How many years have you worked as an African futures thinker / practitioner?

10 years. But I was only aware of my identity as an African futures thinker over the past couple of years.

In which countries or places have you had working experience as an African futures thinker / practitioner?

I have primarily been working in Uganda, although I am branching out now to Sierra Leone. I’ve got some futures thinking/projects in the works for a “post-Ebola” community public health system. Ebolasurvivorcorps.org

In what languages have you undertaken futures / foresight related work or research?

English and Rutooro

What is it that motivates you to work or participate in the foresight / future studies / related field

I am motivated to work in the field of future studies as in Africa as I have witnessed institutionalized demoralization and condescension towards Africans via movies, news press, faith based accounts, humanitarian causes, in my education, etc. Instead of railing against the past, I promote envisioning a future of Africa as its own positive force for moving humanity forward.

What goal/s would you most like to reach with your work as an African futures thinker / practitioner?

My goals are modest, as I know I am only one person in a sea of billions. I’d like to be a part of just one person’s story for how they achieved success. Luckily, this is happening right now.

Who or what most influenced your thinking as a futures thinker / practitioner, and how?

Martin Luther King Jr and Alexandra Fuller have influenced my thinking about being a futures thinker. MLK by reminding me to continually take a stand for justice, in the face of definitive consequences; and Alexandra Fuller reminds me to be true to myself throughout the journey.

What is your main disciplinary background? (i.e. your primary training / qualification)

I have a PhD in Medical/Health Geography and an MPH in International Health.

How do other people describe you and how do you describe yourself?

Others describe me as… supportive

I describe myself as… empathetic

 

YOUR PERSPECTIVE

What is one of your favourite quotes about the future?

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.” - MLK 1964

How would you describe the state of African futures thinking right now?

Broad and energizing.

What is, in your opinion, the main barrier to uptake of futures knowledge by African institutions and organisations?

African institutions are being pulled in so many different directions… I can’t imagine trying to be a leader in any institution and balancing the financial and social and political pressure that comes from outside and inside.

If you were to give advice to someone who wants a career in African foresight / future studies, what would you say to him or her?

Embrace an interdisciplinary approach at the outset, then narrow in on what really grabs your attention and passion. You will know what that is when you find yourself spending your free time reading, thinking , and writing about it.

What are your recommended readings for every African futures thinker / practitioner?

Global Shadows: Africa in the Neoliberal World Order by James Ferguson

What are your recommendations for other favourite futures resources: websites, newsfeeds, mailing lists, associations, etc.?

 

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