Honors Colloquium - University of Rhode Island
Skip to main content Honors Colloquium - University of Rhode Island
Scenes from the College of Arts and Sciences

Fall 2011 Honors Colloquium

Peter Schwartz (September 20)
The interplay of geopolitics and technology in the future


Peter Schwartz is cofounder and chairman of Global Business Network (GBN), a Monitor Group company, and a partner of the Monitor Group, a family of professional services firms devoted to enhancing client competitiveness. An internationally renowned futurist and business strategist, Peter specializes in scenario planning, working with corporations, governments, and institutions to create alternative perspectives of the future and develop robust strategies for a changing and uncertain world. His current research and scenario work is particularly focused on climate change and national security issues, and also encompasses energy resources and the environment, technology, telecommunications and aerospace.

Schwartz is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the World Affairs Council and, in Singapore, the Research, Innovation and Enterprise Council. He also sits on the boards of The Long Now Foundation, The International Energy Board, The Center for New American Security, and the Center for Strategic Futures.




Given the rapid changes in technology discussed by Ray Kurzweil in the first lecture in this series, each of us is left wondering about what our future might look like. However, if the recent past is any guide, predicting our future with any certainty is unrealistic at best. How many of us would, in the early nineties, have predicted that we would have a smart-phone in 15 years or be doing a significant fraction of our shopping and virtually all of our correspondence electronically in 10. And yet each of these has had, or will in the very near future have, a major impact on our lives. So how does one go about planning for the future? One approach is the use of scenarios to aid in preparing for the future. Scenario planning is a strategic planning method routinely used by organizations and businesses to make long-term plans for the future of their entity - you have very likely heard of the military's war games. However, scenario planning can also be used on an individual basis to help each of us plan for our own future. Peter Schwartz, one of the world's leaders in scenario planning, emphasizes that scenarios are not predictions but, rather, are built "to help you change your view of reality - to match it up more closely with reality as it is, and reality as it is going to be". He defines scenarios "as a set of organized ways to dream effectively about our future". An important element of scenario planning is to envision a range of possible futures so that one is prepared for any eventuality. Schwartz recommends at least three scenarios: the status quo, a future in which life goes on pretty much as it has, and the two opposite extremes, an optimistic future, one in which one envisions the best thing that could happen, and a pessimistic future, one in which one asks what could go wrong.

In this presentation, Peter Schwartz will discuss the implication of the interplay between geopolitics and technology on likely scenarios for the future.



URI Presentation - Video
The video for Peter Schwartz's URI presentation on 9/20/11

URI Presentation - Slides
This is a link to the 28 MB zipped file containing the PowerPoint of Peter Schwartz's URI presentation.

Global Business Network Website
The official website for the Global Business Network, a company that Peter Schwartz founded to help companies realize and address their future challenges

Danese Cooper Conversation
Peter Schwartz's conversation with Danese Cooper about the future of humanity

Plug-In 2008 Speech
Peter Schwartz's speech at Plug-In 2008 on the relationship between global warming and the electrification of transportation

NewsX interview
A NewsX interview with Peter Schwartz about his work as a futurist

Update to Art of the Long View
Link to an updated version of Peter's book, The Art of the Long View

Art of the Long View Excerpt
Link to an excerpted version of The Art of the Long View

Art of the Long View Abstract
Link to an abstract of The Art of the Long View