Planning for Higher Education Journal

University Strategic Planning and the Foresight/Futures Approach

An Irish Case Study
Journal Cover
From Volume 38 Number 1 | October–December 2009
By Ronaldo Munck, Gordon McConnell
Planning Types: Strategic Planning

Institutions referenced in this resource:
Dublin City University

The contemporary university operates within a global context characterized by ever-increasing uncertainty and complexity. Strategic planning must, therefore, be cognizant of future trends and how those trends will affect the university by creating both threats and opportunities. Our hypothesis is that an approach we refer to as “strategic foresight” can provide us with the tools, methodology, and process to creatively address uncertainty and complexity in our working environment. Dublin City University has taken the lead in Ireland in terms of its emphasis on strategic planning. Its 2005–2008 strategic plan, Leadership Through Foresight, was part of an ambitious foresight exercise that was aimed at informing subsequent strategic cycles. This article reports on this process in the context of the wider literature examining the value of foresight/futures thinking as applied to universities. The article commences with a review of current uncertainties and complexities in the current operating environment. It broadly outlines foresight/futures thinking and then examines universities specifically. It continues by focusing on Dublin City University’s foresight exercise as an example of how foresight operates in practice. Finally, the article concludes by exploring what a strategic foresight approach to planning might look like based on that experience.

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