Thick presents and transition processes

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Invitation and call for papers for the FuMee IV workshop to be held 5-6 December 2011 at
the Technical University of Denmark in Copenhagen entitled:
“Thick presents” and transition processes
In the field of Futures studies, the present plays a pivotal role and yet it is often underplayed as non
problematic, implicit or not even part of the exercise. The starting point for this workshop is that
most phenomena, including changes to existing systems, manifest multi-temporal dynamics that
build upon and crisscross the present in a variety of ways that include the inertia exerted by past
events and the anticipations of future events and changes.
One of the approaches that FuMee has been working on so far is the idea of a ‘thick present’, or
pluralistic ‘presents’. The thick present is a field of emergence that consists of a variety of distinct
temporal, causal and emergent dimensions. Some aspects of the present can be characterized as
unfolding, some as exhibiting a transitional nature, others as novel. The aim of FuMee IV is to
explore all of these different elements of the thick present as well as the question of how such an
enhanced understanding of the present could be related decision-making.
The hypothesis is that the idea of the thick present should enable decision making processes to
better take into account multiple interpretations of the nature and significance of past and
contemporary events as well as the multiplicity of visions, projections, interpretations of past
dependencies and performance based changes that are often used to create ideas of the future.
Does the concept of a thick present make it easier to question the view of time as a uniform and
linear metronome for events with a present that is exclusively the result of past events and such just
a moving point in homogeneous time?
In addition to discussing the details of different approaches and theories of the thick present this call
for papers invites case studies, examples, illustrations of the meaning and functioning of the thick
present. The point of the case studies is not to simply recount the story but in the context of this
meeting of FuMee to stimulate work in progress, exchange theoretical underpinnings of futures
studies, and relate different accounts of the thick present to visions, strategies, and forms of
resilience that might well be channels to consider for current decision making. Gaining a better
understanding of the thick present through case studies may help to create methodological inputs,
concepts and tools at regional, sectoral and global levels.
The journey we want to accomplish at this particular stage of FuMee is to assist scientific disciplines
to take the future into account using a more sophisticated anticipatory systems approach that is able
to integrate the thickness of the present into an understanding of how order, continuity and
conditions for transformation occur.
Actors from the various disciplines involved with change, transitions, futures, strategy, management
and knowledge/learning issues from various constituencies such as scholars, consultants, and
decision makers from both the public and private sectors should feel welcome to submit proposals
for FuMee IV.
The workshop will be held over two days in Copenhagen starting and ending so that transportation
to and from major European cities is possible on the same days. We expect the program to start
Monday around 10.00 and end early afternoon on Tuesday, depending on the participation.
Abstract (1 page) should be submitted to Ulrik Jørgensen [email protected] before the September 1
2011, response being given within the next weeks!
Any submission and participation should fit the general working principle of FuMee, the main idea
being to have a forum for discussion of work in progress and precisely, through interactions taking
place during the workshop, be able to make progress as a group and in our specific endeavors.
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