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Sustainability 2012, 4(4), 740-772; doi:10.3390/su4040740
Article

Scenario Archetypes: Converging Rather than Diverging Themes

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1 Civil Engineering/College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B152TT, UK 2 Center for Water Systems/College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, EX4 4QF, UK 3 The Centre for Urban and Regional Studies, School of Public Policy, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B152TT, UK 4 The Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA14YQ, UK 5 Faculty of Arts and Social Science/Lancaster University, Lancaster, LA1 4YD, UK 6 School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Science, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B152TT, UK 7 Department of Sustainable Construction, Coventry University Technology Park, Coventry, CV1 5FB, UK 8 Birmingham Institute of Art and Design (BIAD), Birmingham City University, Birmingham B4 7DX, UK
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 8 March 2012 / Revised: 26 March 2012 / Accepted: 30 March 2012 / Published: 20 April 2012
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Abstract

Future scenarios provide challenging, plausible and relevant stories about how the future could unfold. Urban Futures (UF) research has identified a substantial set (>450) of seemingly disparate scenarios published over the period 1997–2011 and within this research, a sub-set of >160 scenarios has been identified (and categorized) based on their narratives according to the structure first proposed by the Global Scenario Group (GSG) in 1997; three world types (Business as Usual, Barbarization, and Great Transitions) and six scenarios, two for each world type (Policy Reform—PR, Market Forces—MF, Breakdown—B, Fortress World—FW, Eco-Communalism—EC and New Sustainability Paradigm—NSP). It is suggested that four of these scenario archetypes (MF, PR, NSP and FW) are sufficiently distinct to facilitate active stakeholder engagement in futures thinking. Moreover they are accompanied by a well-established, internally consistent set of narratives that provide a deeper understanding of the key fundamental drivers (e.g., STEEP—Social, Technological, Economic, Environmental and Political) that could bring about realistic world changes through a push or a pull effect. This is testament to the original concept of the GSG scenarios and their development and refinement over a 16 year period.
Keywords: sustainability; future scenarios; scenario archetypes sustainability; future scenarios; scenario archetypes
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Hunt, D.V.L.; Lombardi, D.R.; Atkinson, S.; Barber, A.R.G.; Barnes, M.; Boyko, C.T.; Brown, J.; Bryson, J.; Butler, D.; Caputo, S.; Caserio, M.; Coles, R.; Cooper, R.F.D.; Farmani, R.; Gaterell, M.; Hale, J.; Hales, C.; Hewitt, C.N.; Jankovic, L.; Jefferson, I.; Leach, J.; MacKenzie, A.R.; Memon, F.A.; Sadler, J.P.; Weingaertner, C.; Whyatt, J.D.; Rogers, C.D.F. Scenario Archetypes: Converging Rather than Diverging Themes. Sustainability 2012, 4, 740-772.

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