In July of 2006, Regent University announced the launch of a M.A. of Strategic Foresight degree, a project I worked on since 2004. This unique online program now allows mid-career professions to study the future in the context of organizational decision-making, while continuing to work full-time. Here is the inside scoop of how this program got launched.
In the fall of 2002, I got a note, via the Christian Futures Network, that Dr. Bruce Winston, an associate dean at that time, had been attending the World Future Society since 2001. Dr. Winston and I struck up a conversation at that time about how Regent might combine foresight and leadership studies.
It wasn’t until the next Spring that things really developed. My son asked me to fly back East and help him drive a used car back West. While I was in Virginia I took the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Winston. He asked me to design a doctoral residency conference that fall for his students. That became Foresight 2003, with Dr. Peter Bishop and other futurists, a national conference that has continued each year since.
A year later we began seriously talking about what it would take to design and launch a Master of Strategic Foresight. I began working on the project then, doing feasibility studies and seeking counsel of leading futures educators worldwide, as well as Christian futurists. By the summer of 2004 Regent approved the project, allowing Dr. Peter Bishop and I to develop the online courseware.
As the program develops into 2007, Tom Hoffmann, a graduate of UH in futures studies will teach with me. The announcement of the new M.A. in futures is just the tip of the iceberg, however. Regent’s School of Global Leadership & Entrepreneurship presently has 550 distance education students enrolled in three other degree programs: 1) an MBA, 2) an M.A. in Organizational Leadership; 3) an applied Doctorate, and 4) a research PhD.
To date I have created a 3-course futures concentration series for Regent’s existing M.A. in Organizational Leadership. I also created and now co-teach with Dr. Winston a one-Futures course requirement for their Doctoral Students in Strategic Leadership (DSL). By 2007, their Doctoral students will be able to spend their 3rd-year focusing on Strategic Foresight, and focus their final professional project in this domain. Similar options will open for their PhD students in Organizational Leadership, to focus their research on strategic leadership theory and futures.
Some of my professional futures colleagues have asked me whether Regent, as a private school with religious heritage, would be a good fit for mid-career professions to earn a masters or doctorate? I admit this is a factor to consider. Regent was founded in the evangelical tradition. Yet today the school is fully ecumenical and a third of the School of Global Leadership & Entrepreneurship faculty are from overseas.
Regent faculty in Leadership are fully conversant with the realist-objectivist vs. idealist-subjectivist split. They encourage both quantitative and qualitative research into organizations and leadership. And any work students do in ‘Christian worldview’ is balanced by critical theory and ideological analysis, similar to how both Jesus and Paul analyzed the Roman and Herodian Jewish state.
While Regent has just begun to offer futures studies courses, its strengths in strategic and servant leadership theory give it a boost, and may strengthen the fields of social forecasting and strategic foresight for years to come.
For more on the program, see the Foresight home page at Regent.