Our world is changing faster than ever before. Exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the global changes, growing in complexity, generate high uncertainty affecting all policy areas. For future-oriented policymaking, governments must think strategically about the future and prepare themselves for both the predictable and the unpredictable. Foresight is the discipline of exploring, anticipating and shaping the future to help building and using collective intelligence in a structured, systematic and systemic way to anticipate future scenarios.

In order to nurture a future-thinking culture in tomorrow’s science advisors, the GYA Science Advice Working Group is partnering with Policy Horizon Canada in order to provide an online training workshop on Strategic Foresight on 10 November 2020, addressed to GYA members, alumni and Office staff.

We are going to explore plausible, alternative futures and identify the challenges and opportunities that may emerge. Foresight will help GYA participants to understand the forces shaping a system, how the system could evolve and what surprises could arise. This analysis provides a valuable context for the development of policies and strategies that are robust across a range of plausible futures. The areas to be explored in two breakout groups are:

  1. Biodigital Convergence – Digital technologies and biological systems are beginning to combine and merge in ways that could be profoundly disruptive to our assumptions about society, the economy, and our bodies. We call this the biodigital convergence. Policy Horizons Canada is currently exploring the three following themes: Full physical integration of biological and digital entities; Coevolution of biological and digital technologies; and Conceptual convergence of biological and digital systems.
  2. The Future of Social Connection – Policy Horizons’ social foresight work emphasises the interpersonal sentiments, bonds, and processes across many domains including the economy, work, technology, education, art, family, infrastructure, design, politics, and governance. The futures of social connection focuses on disruptions to how and where people interact, with whom and with what, and the role connection plays on how individuals define their identity.

The workshop on 10 November 2020 (13:00-15:30 UTC) will consist of 1-hour introduction to Foresight, followed by 1.5 hours of foresight activity in two breakout groups with the research teams. During the registration process, potential participants must indicate the preference to attend one of the breakout groups, or either of the two. There is a limited number of participants. The registration was open to all GYA members, alumni and Office staff, as well as members of National Young Academies. In case registrations exceed the maximum number of participants, a selection will be carried out by an ad-hoc selection committee composed of WG members. The selection will be based on the justification given by applicants for attending the activity. Active GYA members will have priority to attend. Applicants have been informed on 2 November 2020 whether they have been selected as participants.


Policy Horizons Canada is a federal government organisation that conducts foresight. Their mandate is to help the Government of Canada develop future-oriented policy and programmes that are more robust and resilient in the face of disruptive change on the horizon. They produce content that may attract academic, public, and international attention, and do not publish commentary on policy decisions of the Government.