UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage


New Social Futures from Heritage

22 September 2022–23 September 2022, 9:30 am–4:30 pm

Collection of images show people, protest, cities and the natural world

Due to unforeseen circumstances, this event is no longer taking place. Ticket holders can contact r.sandford@ucl.ac.uk to refund tickets.

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Prof Richard Sandford


10 Montague Street
United Kingdom

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Across the world, groups working in public policy and social innovation use foresight and futures thinking to develop new ideas of the future, helping them to act in the face of uncertainty.  

For heritage and civil society organisations, this work is especially important.

Wildfires, urban flooding, and other impacts of a warming climate are devasting communities, damaging infrastructure, and threatening natural heritage. Societies around the world face a nexus of food insecurity, economic inequality and deep cultural shifts. And, for many organisations, the response to the global Covid-19 pandemic and social movements like Black Lives Matter, school strikes for climate and #MeToo have the shown the central importance of including shared moral principles in decision-making. The future has never been so uncertain, and it’s never been so important for what we value to be at the heart of our response to it.  

This two-day course introduces a range of ideas and techniques from strategic foresight and futures studies for living and working with uncertainty, and connects them to the principles of care, stewardship and maintenance that sustain communities and their heritage.  

Attendees will develop their capacity to recognise key trends, drivers and signals of change, and use these to construct multiple scenarios of possible futures. Through engaging with recent critical perspectives on the future, you will consider how taken-for-granted values and assumptions become embedded in ideas of the future, and explore how speculative and utopian thinking can enable us to imagine genuinely transformative future possibilities. And by examining how the routine and often hidden work of repair and maintenance sustains what we care for, you will develop a sense of how present actions can ensure the future has a place for what matters to us.  

By the end of the course, you will have a new awareness of the possible futures facing us all, an understanding of how these futures might impact your field, and an action plan supporting you to bring this understanding into your organisation’s planning and strategic thinking.  

Format and location 

Sessions are a mix of hands-on practical work, individual reflection, and group activity, with time to connect and share perspectives over lunch and coffee (both included). Access to reading material will be provided. No preparatory work is required before attending the course.  

Both days will run from 09:30 to 16:30. The course will be delivered in person, in the Boardroom of 10 Montague Street, London, WC1B 5BJ. 

10 Montague Street


No prior knowledge or experience of foresight or futures work is assumed. 

The course is intended to support people with a practical need to think about uncertainty and change over the long-term, in order to support social action in the present. You will be working alongside people from public policy groups, social enterprises, NGOs, charities, and educational institutions. 

Experienced strategists and foresight practitioners will benefit from engaging with new perspectives on futures practice and theory.  

Comments from previous attendees: 

“It's been really valuable and I will definitely be using yesterday's techniques on projects at work. Plus there's a richness to this work that has much broader applications than I had initially understood.” 
“Having the tools to start tackling this at a practitioner level is extremely helpful” 
“I will be making use of the process that you took us through from what matters through to backcasting, in my project where we’re planning to explore the future as a community. I knew that I needed to take people through a process starting with something like 'what makes a good life' but hadn’t worked out what that looked like in practice... Your course and how you designed it have been massively helpful to me” 
“Thanks so much for the care you took with us and to deliver such a thought provoking programme” 

Teachers and facilitators  

The course is led by Richard Sandford, Professor of Heritage Evidence, Foresight and Policy. Richard has extensive experience in foresight and futures work in public policy, in the private sector, and in academia. He has led foresight teams within the UK Civil Service, and worked with groups in organisations such as UNESCO and the Singapore government. 

Additional teaching and facilitation will be provided by guest contributions from experts in the fields of heritage, foresight and public policy. 


The fee for the two days, including lunch, refreshments, and access to reading materials, is:

  • Standard: £750  
  • Unwaged/student (limited places available - proof of circumstances may be required): £375


Book now

For general enquiries about the course, please email bseer-communications@ucl.ac.uk