Special Issue "Future Design"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 July 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Tatsuyoshi Saijo
Website
Guest Editor
Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, and Research Institute for Future Design, Kochi University of Technology, Kochi, Japan
Interests: future design; futurability; imaginary future generations

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue will comprise papers covering a wide range of aspects related to designing sustainable future societies. Despite the fact that scientists have issued various ultimatums into the future of the earth including biodiversity, climate change, biochemical flows such as nitrogen and phosphorus, and so on, our society remains stuck with the traditional market and democracy and cannot create sustainable social systems including future generations. While the market is ‘an extremely good device for realizing the short-term desires of people,’ it does not ‘allocate resources in a way that takes account of future generations’—the future generations cannot participate in today’s markets. Likewise, democracy is not ‘a device that incorporates future generations;’ it is ‘a device that profits people who live now’. Running for a political office today to enrich a generation a hundred years later would most likely end in an election-defeat. This Special Issue solicits papers on innovative and creative ideas for complementing market and democracy for future generations, including theories, laboratory, social and field experiments, and practices with stakeholders.  

Dr. Tatsuyoshi Saijo
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • sustainable future societies
  • future design
  • future generations
  • democracy
  • market
  • stakeholders
  • experiments

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Impact of Future Design on Workshop Participants’ Time Preferences
Sustainability 2020, 12(18), 7796; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187796 - 21 Sep 2020
Abstract
In this paper, we examine the impact of Future Design (FD) on public workshops organized in Matsumoto city, Japan, for its city hall renovation plan. We ran an FD workshop and an ordinary workshop as a control, and the participants were randomly assigned [...] Read more.
In this paper, we examine the impact of Future Design (FD) on public workshops organized in Matsumoto city, Japan, for its city hall renovation plan. We ran an FD workshop and an ordinary workshop as a control, and the participants were randomly assigned to one of the two workshops. We identified the SVO (social value orientation) type (pro-social, pro-self, and other) and elicited time preference of each participant using simple questionnaires that were independent of the context of the workshops. We found that pro-self individuals tend to have shorter time perspectives than pro-social individuals before the workshops. While the pro-self individuals who went through the ordinary workshop became even more myopic, we did not detect such adverse effects in the FD workshop. This contrast between the ordinary and FD workshops is consistent with the qualitative differences in the policy outcomes between the two workshops. The discussions in the ordinary workshop tended to focus on the resolution of today’s needs, such as acquiring more rooms and more services, etc., while the discussions in the FD workshop focused on the more fundamental functions of the city hall that will be needed in the future, thereby leading to more constructive policy proposals. Such demand-based discussions in the ordinary workshop may have been a result of the growing myopia within the pro-self participants, who insisted on ensuring their current needs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Future Design)
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Open AccessArticle
Future Design as a Metacognitive Intervention for Presentism
Sustainability 2020, 12(18), 7552; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187552 - 14 Sep 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Many serious problems occur due to conflicts between the interests of the present generation and the welfare of future generations, and thus, the actions of the preset generation may be a consequence of presentism. Drawing on the theoretical framework of metacognition, the present [...] Read more.
Many serious problems occur due to conflicts between the interests of the present generation and the welfare of future generations, and thus, the actions of the preset generation may be a consequence of presentism. Drawing on the theoretical framework of metacognition, the present study investigates how presentism can be overcome through future design interventions that incorporate an imaginary future generation setting. Four workshop participants were interviewed, and transcripts of the interviews were made. There were two major findings. First, we identified narratives in the responses of participants that suggest that metacognition was active during the workshops concerning the two cognitions governed by present and future selves. Second, the narratives identified above were classified into two categories, and the two corresponding roles of metacognition were identified: the monitoring and controlling function and the harmonizing function. The former is essential for the acquisition of identity as a future person; the latter is essential for reconciling this future identity with the identity of the person in the present. The present study proposes that future design is a tool that can be used to intervene in the metacognition of individuals concerning how one chooses a temporal reference point from which to view the past, present, and future of society rather than a tool to naively motivate individuals to care for future generations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Future Design)
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Open AccessArticle
Motivational Factors in Intergenerational Sustainability Dilemma: A Post-Interview Analysis
Sustainability 2020, 12(17), 7078; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12177078 - 30 Aug 2020
Abstract
An intergenerational sustainability dilemma (ISD) is a situation of whether or not a person sacrifices herself for future sustainability. However, little is known about what people consider while making a decision under ISD. This paper analyzes motivational factors for people to decide under [...] Read more.
An intergenerational sustainability dilemma (ISD) is a situation of whether or not a person sacrifices herself for future sustainability. However, little is known about what people consider while making a decision under ISD. This paper analyzes motivational factors for people to decide under ISD, hypothesizing that the factors can be different with or without perspective-taking of future generations. One-person basic ISD game (ISDG) along with post-interviews are instituted where a lineup of individuals is organized as a generational sequence. Each individual chooses an unsustainable (or sustainable) option with (without) irreversibly costing future generations in 36 situations. A future ahead and back (FAB) mechanism is applied as a treatment for perspective-taking of future generations where each individual is asked to take the next generation’s position and to make a request about the choice that he/she wants the current generation to choose, and next, he/she makes the actual decision from the original position. By analyzing the post-interview contents with text-mining techniques, the paper finds that individuals mostly consider how previous generations had behaved in basic ISDG as the main motivational factor. However, individuals in FAB treatment are induced to put more weight on the possible consequences of their decisions for future generations as motivational factors. The findings suggest that perspective-taking of future generations through FAB mechanism enables people to change not only their behaviors but also motivational factors, enhancing ISD. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Future Design)
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Open AccessArticle
Does Voting Solve the Intergenerational Sustainability Dilemma?
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6311; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166311 - 05 Aug 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Does voting solve the intergenerational sustainability dilemma? Do voting rules matter when trying to induce people to collectively select a sustainable alternative that leaves more resources for future generations? To answer these questions, we conducted a laboratory experiment using an intergenerational sustainability dilemma [...] Read more.
Does voting solve the intergenerational sustainability dilemma? Do voting rules matter when trying to induce people to collectively select a sustainable alternative that leaves more resources for future generations? To answer these questions, we conducted a laboratory experiment using an intergenerational sustainability dilemma game in which players are asked to choose between two alternatives. Choosing the alternative that maximizes the players’ immediate benefit decreases the resources left for subsequent generations. The choice is made by the votes cast within small groups representing successive generations. We compare three voting rules: ordinary voting, whereby each person in the group has one vote; proxy voting, whereby some but not all of the players are given an extra vote to cast on behalf of subsequent generations; and two-ballot voting, whereby all players are given an extra vote. We observe that both proxy voting and two-ballot voting increase the frequency at which the sustainable alternative is selected; however, the frequency of such a choice remains low. This suggests that voting individually is a relatively ineffective way to elicit sustainable choices from successive generations even if the rules of voting are modified. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Future Design)
Open AccessArticle
Citizen-Participatory Scenario Design Methodology with Future Design Approach: A Case Study of Visioning of a Low-Carbon Society in Suita City, Japan
Sustainability 2020, 12(11), 4746; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12114746 - 10 Jun 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
A scenario approach is often used to envision sustainable futures. Several important scenario design factors are identified in the literature, which include the demonstration of deliberation and the participation of stakeholders; however, specific methodologies of scenario design are yet to be established. Accordingly, [...] Read more.
A scenario approach is often used to envision sustainable futures. Several important scenario design factors are identified in the literature, which include the demonstration of deliberation and the participation of stakeholders; however, specific methodologies of scenario design are yet to be established. Accordingly, in this study, we demonstrate a series of workshops involving ordinary citizens for energy visioning in Suita city, Japan, and propose a new citizen-participatory scenario design methodology based on the combination of scenario design and future design approaches. It is shown that the inclusion of future generations in deliberation is effective for creating future visions in a specific context and deriving policy implications. Specifically, by analyzing the deliberation process and the proposed scenarios, it was confirmed that the scenarios proposed by future generations were proactive in terms of paying the costs incurred to facilitate the realization of policies toward achieving a long-term vision. Furthermore, even though the proposals made by the future generations imposed additional burdens for current generations, post-workshop scenario assessment revealed that current generations are supportive of these scenarios. It is concluded that the proposed methodology is effective since it can overcome uncertainties, include holistic scopes, and consider a long-term time horizon. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Future Design)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Taking a Future Generation’s Perspective as a Facilitator of Insight Problem-Solving: Sustainable Water Supply Management
Sustainability 2020, 12(3), 1000; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12031000 - 30 Jan 2020
Cited by 6
Abstract
Human societies face various unsustainability problems, often characterized as “wicked” in the sense that they have no single definitive formulation. Thus, the role of creativity or insight in solving such problems has attracted a lot of attention from scholars. Therefore, this study investigated [...] Read more.
Human societies face various unsustainability problems, often characterized as “wicked” in the sense that they have no single definitive formulation. Thus, the role of creativity or insight in solving such problems has attracted a lot of attention from scholars. Therefore, this study investigated how an emerging methodology, Future Design (and its unique intervention of asking problem solvers to take a future generation’s perspective), can facilitate insight problem solving (IPS) and the generation of sustainable solutions. In a municipality in Japan, nine officers from a bureau responsible for water supply management participated in a series of seven Future Design workshops. In two groups, these officers created visions of water supply management 30 years into the future, taking the perspective of a future generation working in the same municipality. On the basis of in-depth transcription analyses of these workshops, we obtained a hypothetical framework demonstrating that four factors mediate the influence of perspective taking on IPS: (a) Discounting the present generation’s cost, (b) contrasting the future with the present, (c) deconstructing hierarchy, and (d) intellectual joy. While the first three mediators (a, b, and c) were considered to be contributors to the problem reframing and IPS via constraint relaxation, the fourth (d) was considered to do so via positive interpretation. Further, the reason why taking a future generation’s perspective is likely to lead to sustainable solutions, useful for the future—rather than the present—generation, is also discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Future Design)
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Open AccessArticle
Happiness, Generativity and Social Preferences in a Developing Country: A Possibility of Future Design
Sustainability 2019, 11(19), 5256; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11195256 - 25 Sep 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
Happiness, generativity and social preferences are pivotal factors for the betterment and sustainability of societies. However, little is known about the relationships among happiness, generativity and social preferences, along with sociodemographic factors, within a single analytical framework. We hypothesize that generativity and social [...] Read more.
Happiness, generativity and social preferences are pivotal factors for the betterment and sustainability of societies. However, little is known about the relationships among happiness, generativity and social preferences, along with sociodemographic factors, within a single analytical framework. We hypothesize that generativity and social preferences are the determinants of happiness, posing a research question “Are people happier by being prosocial and/or generative for sustainability?” We conduct a survey experiment, collecting data from five subjective happiness scales, generativity, social value orientation and sociodemographic variables in one urban area (Dhaka) and two rural areas (Bogra and Gaibandha) in Bangladesh. With the data, we empirically characterize determinants of subjective happiness with a focus on generativity and social value orientation, controlling for sociodemographic factors. The statistical analysis consistently shows a positive association between subjective happiness and generativity, irrespective of the type of happiness scale, while social value orientation does not exhibit any significance. Rural residents have lower peer relative happiness than urban residents, and household income has a positive relationship with general subjective happiness, leading each of these factors to be significant in overall subjective happiness. In summary, generativity, income and residence area are main determinants of happiness, implying that further urbanization, which is expected to occur in the future, will positively affect people’s happiness if it can bring about an increase in generativity. These results also suggest a possibility that people are happier by being more generative for sustainability, and some new institutional framework such as future design shall be recommended to enhance generativity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Future Design)
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Open AccessArticle
Voting on Behalf of a Future Generation: A Laboratory Experiment
Sustainability 2019, 11(16), 4271; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11164271 - 07 Aug 2019
Cited by 5
Abstract
This paper investigates a new voting rule wherein some people are given extra votes to serve as proxies for future generations. We predict that this voting scheme affects the voting behavior of those who do not receive an extra vote (i.e., single-ballot voters) [...] Read more.
This paper investigates a new voting rule wherein some people are given extra votes to serve as proxies for future generations. We predict that this voting scheme affects the voting behavior of those who do not receive an extra vote (i.e., single-ballot voters) because they are less likely to become a pivot, while proxy voters are expected to behave in support of the future generation. To test this prediction, we compare three scenarios wherein single-ballot voters would cast a vote: (a) one-voter-one-vote scenario wherein all voters cast only a single ballot; (b) a standard proxy-voting scenario wherein other voters cast two ballots, and the second vote is to cast for the benefit of a future generation; and (c) a non-proxy-voting scenario wherein other voters cast two ballots with no explanation for the second vote. The result shows that single-ballot voters are less inclined to vote for the future-oriented option in (c) than in (a). This indicates the potential drawback of the new voting scheme. However, there is no difference in the single-ballot voters’ decision between (a) and (b), indicating that the explanation of the second ballot as the proxy is important for reducing the intergenerational inequality through this voting reform. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Future Design)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Future Design: Bequeathing Sustainable Natural Environments and Sustainable Societies to Future Generations
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6467; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166467 - 11 Aug 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
“Future Design,” a new movement among Japanese researchers and stakeholders, asks the following question: What types of social systems are necessary if we are to leave future generations sustainable environments and societies? Looking at the human activity impact on the global environment and [...] Read more.
“Future Design,” a new movement among Japanese researchers and stakeholders, asks the following question: What types of social systems are necessary if we are to leave future generations sustainable environments and societies? Looking at the human activity impact on the global environment and society, I ask: Why is this society we live in generating a series of future failures that will cost future generations so much? I then argue that the source of such a society could be liberalism and that the market and democracy derived from it will not help avoid these future failures. To achieve this, one must design social systems that activate a human trait called futurability, where people experience an increase in happiness because of deciding and acting toward foregoing current benefits to enrich future generations. One method to study these is by employing “imaginary future generations”. Here, I present an overview of the theoretical background of this method, the results of relevant laboratory and field experiments, and the nature of relevant practical applications implemented in cooperation with several local governments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Future Design)
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