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Dr Steven Lichty

Futurist Profile


Dr Steven Lichty

Consultant, Futurist, and Researcher

Managing Partner: REAL Consulting Group

Education: PhD - African Politics, Anthropology, Political Theory
MPhil - Futures Studies
MA - Political Science
MA - International Relations
BA - Economics, Business, Communications

Dr Lichty answered a few questions about his perspective and on being a futures thinker.


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?

I assist organisations and individuals examine present trends, signals, and demographic drivers to discern plausible, possible, and preferred futures and then develop the strategic insight and tools to prepare for these potential scenarios or build their preferred future.

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

I have been working with strategic foresight for about three years now.

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

Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, and Central/South/Southeast Asia

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


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

I have always had a fascination with history and understanding human nature and how we as a species engage with change and social transformation. For most of our human history, personal agency has been incredibly low, with most decisions about the future being made by political, economic, or religious elite. The 21st Century is now providing more opportunities for the voiceless and marginalised to have a say in how they want to live. My passion is equipping these groups with futures literacy and thus empowering them with foresight and futures skills to better articulate, understand, and leverage their agency.

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

I would like see: 1) futures thinking brought into universities, as either a course or degree programme; 2) government entities using strategic foresight to better anticipate how to provide service delivery to constituents; 3) civil society organisations, including religious institutions, empowered with futures thinking to continue their vital role as a balance to state powers; 4) youth and other marginalised groups equipped with futures literacy; 5) an African network of futurist developed and expanded across the Africa and contributes to the global futurist community the unique cultural and philosophical understanding of time, change, sustainability, and harmony (Ubuntu).

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

Several individuals who have influenced me. These include John Sweeney, Sohail Inayatullah, Ivana Miroslovic, Monika Bielskyte, Maree Conway, Riel Miller, Jose Ramos, Richard Slaughter, and my amazing cohort in the MPhil in Futures Studies at Stellenbosch.

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

I am broadly trained in the social sciences (African studies, anthropology, futures studies, political theory, comparative politics, international development/relations), but also have a business and economics background. I have PhD and two masters, and currently working on an MPhil in Futures Studies at Stellenbosch University.

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

Others describe me as… complex
I describe myself as… Shagalabagala (Kiswahili for chaos)



What is one of your favourite quotes about the future?

"Compassion is sometimes the fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else's skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too." - Frederick Buechner

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

Growing and strategically placed to offer so much for the continent’s future.

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

Historical legacies that ill-equip for this type of thinking.

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?

Take a couple of courses online (Metafuture 101 or the five-course specialisation with IFTF via Coursera are great places to start), reach out to other professional futurists and expand your network, and then consider taking more advanced training/degree programmes.

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

Transforming the Future: Anticipation in the 21st Century, edited by Riel Miller

Anything by Sohail Inayatullah, Richard Slaughter, Wendy Schultz, Monika Bielskyte, Maree Conway, Joseph Voros, John Sweeney, Jose Ramos.

Wendell Bell’s two volume series available on Google books (Foundations of Futures Studies: History, Purposes and Knowledge and Foundations of Futures Studies: Human Science for a New Era: Values, Objectivity, and the Good) still remain foundational.

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

Google. Google. Google. (or DuckDuckGo if anti-hegemonic in your search engine choice). Then network with around 20 to 30 futurists on LinkedIn, let the snowball effect occur, and you will soon be exposed to hundreds of activities and networks.


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