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Predict Future Headlines

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This method is a playful way of helping participants project themselves imaginatively into the future, clarifying and personalising possibilities and aspirations for a particular case.


Focusing on a specific case, participants are invited to project themselves optimistically into a future time, inventing positive stories of regeneration and renewal that are worth celebrating. Such stories are then condensed into an imaginary headline from a newspaper cover page in the future. This practice can be combined with other methods, e.g. Inviting Non-Human Stakeholders (thinking of the future from the perspective of a given character) Collage (creating an image to represent the headline). Inspired by backcasting techniques, this method expands one’s sense of time and can point to practical action steps that are required to achieve the desired result. Moreover, the exercise of imagining a future headline triggers participants’ ability to condense ideas and aspirations, communicating concisely the future they envision.


The future story could also include more dystopian or uncertain visions of the future, which could invite another round of deeper observation and reflection about specific fears and sadness that might hold people back from taking positive action steps. This could be combined with Personifying Emotions.


  1. Introduce the new time perspective, using evocative images to give a sense of the passing of the time (sample script): “Imagine this place in 100 years time. An acorn that now falls to the ground will be 20 metres high; 10,000 butterflies will have lived and died; your grandchildren will be old and have grandchildren of their own...”
  2. Provide participants with one or more blank big papers, including the title of the fictional newspaper. Then invite participants to do the following (sample script):
    • We are now in 2118. Imagine the cover page of the local newspaper celebrating the regeneration of the place. What is the story told? Which perspective does it represent?
    • Think of a headline summarizing that story and add a short subtitle if you want. Write it down in a corner of the page;
    • (optional, if used in combination with in combination with 15. Inviting Non-Human Stakeholders, p. 38). Write the headline from the perspective of another species that you feel connected to;
    • (optional, if used in combination with 18. Collage, p. 42) Add images to the headline to visualize the story (or add a headline to the already created collage);
    • In pairs (optional): with the person sitting next to you, try to combine the headlines and make it into a common story;
    • In group (optional): Everybody may work together to construct the front page. You can include your headlines and/or combine them, and add images if wanted;
  3. Invite participants to narrate the different headlines and stories and discuss them all together.

Place on U
5 - 20 minutes
Materials Needed

Paper and pens; markers; one big sheet of paper; (optional) typed letters taken from newspapers, images for collage.

Decision Making
Future Visioning
Ideation & Brainstorming
Tip and Experiences
  • Use evocative language and images while introducing the time perspectives
  • Encourage participants to write something down, without overthinking it
  • Make sure participants have enough space to work on a piece of the common paper
  • This could be done in combination with backcasting: (see references)

Relevant References & Resources

Future Headlines: https://www.ideo.com/post/method-cards
Backcasting: https://medialabamsterdam.com/toolkit/method-card/backcasting/

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