John A. Sweeney


Qazaq Research Institute for Future Studies

Dr. John A. Sweeney is an award-winning author, designer, and futurist. As a practitioner, consultant, and educator, John has organized, managed, and facilitated workshops and seminars, multi-stakeholder projects, and foresight gaming systems in over 45 countries on five continents with participants from around the world. At present, John is an Assistant Professor of Futures and Foresight at Narxoz University in Almaty, Kazakhstan where he serves as Director of the Qazaq Research Institute for Futures Studies. John has worked with numerous universities, international development and humanitarian aid agencies, nonprofit foundations, Fortune 500 companies, and educational and cultural organizations, such as NESTA, INTERPOL, The Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and numerous UN agencies. Additionally, he has experience working with public sector and civil service foresight and innovation units, such as Singapore's Centre for Strategic Futures, Georgia's Public Service Development Agency, and Dubai's Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre for Government Innovation. John's private sector work primarily comes through Duke Corporate Education, which is one of the world's top- rated custom executive education providers. At the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, where he instructed undergraduate courses in Futures Studies, Political Science, and World Religions, John also served as a Researcher at the Hawaii Research Center for Futures Studies from 2009 to 2014. From 2014 to 2018, John served as Deputy Director at the Centre for Postnormal Policy and Futures Studies, which is based in London, UK. In December 2018, John completed his PhD under the direction of Dr. Jim Dator. John is a member of the World Futures Studies Federation and the Association of Professional Futurists. His work has been published in Futures, The Journal of Futures Studies, World Futures Review, and other academic and media outlets. He tweets on trends, emerging issues, and things just over the horizon at @aloha_futures.


Futures, Culture, and Urban Planning: Insights from research on cities across the ancient Silk Road

April 11, 2020

Urban planners create the future. And while there is a long history of collaboration between urban planning and futures studies, further attention is needed to the ways in which forward-looking approaches can broaden how cities shape the future. One area that needs further attention is the role and function of culture in planning. Often viewed as an independent variable, culture is also an often overlooked aspect of urban planning processes. In this session, we share insights from research at the intersection for future studies, culture, and urban planning within the context of Post-Soviet Central Asian cities across the ancient Silk Road. Combining historical analysis and action-learning, we outline how planning has to be a dynamic process driven by participatory approaches, which relates directly to ongoing conversations about imagining how cities can cope with crises such as the Covid19 pandemic. Aditee would be joined by Dr. John A. Sweeney, Director, Qazaq Research Institute for Future Studies, who is her co-researcher and mentor for this study. This is a joint study conducted by scholars from Qazaq research Institute for Future Studies (QRIFS), Narxoz University, Almaty, Kazakhstan and Indian Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology (IIEST), Shibpur, India.

Covid19 both is and is not a black swan (and that's ok): futures in, through, and beyond a time of crisis

April 9, 2020

This session explores how futures approaches are framed and communicated. Using the pandemic as a backdrop, we will look at the different lenses from which such events can help to strengthen how organizations perform horizon scanning and emerging issues analysis. Employing both Postnormal Times theory and narrative foresight methods, this session ultimately looks at how to position perspective and context at the forefront of futures work.