Futures Studies in the European Ex-socialist Countries


Erzsébet Nováky

  1. The beginnings and organisational/institutional background of futures studies in Hungary

Taking an interest in the future and beginning to study it in a systematic and scientific way, including university-level tuition too, date back to the mid and late 1960s in Hungary. It was then that a scientific approach to and the study of the future emerged at several institutions, motivated primarily by a reaction to the development of the sciences in the international field.

Coinciding in time with the founding of the Club of Rome, in 1968 University ProfessorGéza Kovács , at the time head of the National Planning Department of the (then called Karl Marx) University of Economic Sciences, introduced a new seminar specialising in futures research. This type of research seminar was a novelty in a number of ways at the university, partly because futures research itself was a new branch of science and partly because of the special organic unity between research and teaching. This research seminar exerted a particularly strong influence encouraging through the undergraduates too the introduction and development of futures research at further places of research and other universities. This is the reason why Hungarian futures researchers and foreign futures studies centres alike regard the research group headed at the time by ProfessorGéza Kovács as the cradle of futures research in Hungary.

Work at theNational Planning Department of the University of Economic Sciences was characterised by a future vision-oriented, long-range, complex and integrative approach, by a striving to renew theoretical and methodological issues of futures research, and by a future-oriented handling of questions related to the challenges of a given period in time within the complex whole. All this played an important part in establishing the research group as a place that created and maintained a school of thought. The research team of theDepartment of Statistics headed byLajos Besenyei dealt with the statistics-oriented prognostic aspects of futures research as well as making practical, short-range forecasts. The futures studies group at theDepartment of Philosophy of the Budapest Technical University , headed byJudit Fodor , delved into the philosophical and epistemological issues of futures research and investigated the future of man and education. At theSemmelweis University of Medicine, Erzsébet Gidai was the first to deal with futures research. Working mainly with literature in German, she strove to make futures research strike roots in Hungary too. TheScience Organization Group of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences , headed byLajos Szántó , focussed on working with and discussing both international and Hungarian special literature, and on systematising the obtained knowledge.

The fact that a number of individuals at different universities and academic research institutes began to deal with diverse aspects of the future on their own, thereby enriching and broadening the thematic scope of futures research in this country, was a peculiar feature of the early days of futures research in Hungary. The following research centres and researchers must be mentioned by all means: the Department of Transport of the Budapest Technical University (Kálmán Kádas ), the Department of External Economy of the University of Economic Sciences (Imre Korán ), the Janus Pannonius University of Pécs (Béla Sipos ), the Hungarian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Philosophy (Ervin Bóna ), Institute of World Economy (Mihály Simai ), Institute of Economic Sciences (Ferenc Jánossy ), Institute of Home Trade (Radmila Verstovshek ), the University of Miskolc (János Czabán ), the University of Szeged (László Tóth ) and the University of Debrecen (Csilla Kemény ).

The different research teams and academic workshops dealing with futures research varied in the pace and extent of becoming institutionalised. The process turned out to be the smoothest in the National Planning Department of the University of Economic Sciences despite the fact that the Group headed byGéza Kovács had to undergo a number of organisational changes within the framework of university reforms. In 1979, when the National Planning Department became the National Planning Institute, the Group was organised as theSection on Futures Research , and in 1989, when the institute was replaced by the Macro Planning and Modelling Institute, the institutionalDepartment of Futures Research and Planning came into being under its aegis, this time headed byErzsébet Nováky . In keeping with the comprehensive educational and organisational restructuring under way at the university, in 1992 anindependent Futures Research Department was established in the Faculty of Economic Sciences, only to be transformed in 2000 into theFutures Studies Centre at the Faculty of Business Administration.

The Futures Studies Centre of the University of Economic Sciences has benefited, in the shape of theFutures Research Group , from the intellectual and financial support of theHungarian Academy of Sciences since 1974. The research team was headed until the end of 1998 by university professorGéza Kovács and subsequently by university professorErzsébet Nováky , who is also head of the Futures Studies Centre.

The Department of Philosophy of the Budapest Technical University has kept an open mind toward the future amid all the organisational restructuring. Cultivating and teaching futures research have always been in close harmony with the university’s profile and have adhered to the changes in the thematic points of view of the research centre. As a consequence of the implemented university reforms, it is now theDepartment of Innovation Studies and History of Technology that deals with the future in a systematic way under the guidance ofMrs. Attila Tóth .

The research work of theSemmelweis University of Medicine was transferred to the Institute of Social Sciences of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party and, subsequently, to the Economic and Social Research Institute of the Trade Unions. The work was carried on byErzsébet Gidai in the Institute of Social Research and Forecasting.

Futures research at theJanus Pannonius University of Pécs acquired a specific character early on. The activity ofBéla Sipos focussed on forecasting the future of business, labour and prices, and on examining and forecasting short and long-range cycles. In the 1990’s they established a research team at theStrategic Management Department and began to focus on computer-assisted financial forecasting.

TheDepartment of Business Economics of the University of Miskolc specialised in company and organisation prognostics (János Czabán ), while theDepartment of Statistics and Accountancy focussed on business prognostics (Lajos Besenyei ). TheInstitute of Economic Sciences of the University of West Hungary (in Sopron) has also been dealing with futures studies since the mid-90s.

Cultivating and teaching futures research at university level have become more and more widespread, but only at the University of Economic Sciences has an independent department been founded.

Practical forecasting work has been undertaken mainly in nation-wide institutions where the long-range management of problems has made it necessary, such as theNational Committee for Technological Development , theScientific and Planning Institute for Urban Development and insectorial ministries . The role of theNational Planning Office must be emphasised among the other nationwide institutes. Although the Office itself did not conduct systematic futures research, its executives realised the convenience of elaborating long-range macro-level plans on forecasts relying on a scientific basis. The National Planning Office, therefore, assisted the development of futures research as a branch of science by commissioning long-range complex forecasts. It also made efforts so that the results of futures research be put to use in the process of drafting plans and of decision-making on the state level.

Looking into the future became part of the activity of theCentral Statistical Office too, albeit with an emphasis on short-range economic forecasts. In the 1990s, Hungary’s banks and the Ministry of Finance also joined forecasting activities related to economic macro indicators.

Having assessed the research carried out and the scientific results achieved in the field of futures studies, in 1976 theHungarian Academy of Sciences established aFutures Research Committee to function within its Section of Economic and Law (which was later extended to include sociology, demography and public sciences too). The president of the Committee wasGéza Kovács , the founder of futures research in Hungary, who remained in that position for 12 years. From 1988 the presidency went toErzsébet Gidai , to be followed in 1999 byLajos Besenyei .

  1. Historical periods of futures studies in Hungary

In the course of the 30 years that have passed since the early days of futures research in Hungary a sufficient quantity of knowledge and experience has been amassed for us to look back on the road covered from a historical perspective and from various points of view. Although the activities of Hungarian futures researchers have always focussed on institutionalising futures studies in Hungary, on broadening and widening the theoretical and methodological questions and on satisfying the practical needs, each of the three decades displays its own, different character.

In the first decade, futures research, having overcome the ideological prejudice manifest upon the emergence of new sciences, was closely linked to the socialist system of planned economy constituting its so-called outer sphere. There was a definite endeavour, at the same time, for futures research to prove its independent character as a branch of science and to be accepted as an academic discipline*.* In the second decade, futures research strove to distance itself and become independent from planning. Attention was increasingly channelled into elaborating scientifically-based future possibilities. It was in this phase that Hungarian futures research came into mutually beneficial contact with the international vanguard of futures studies. In the third decade, conscious and non-conscious thinking about the future gained impetus even on the level of the individual. The results achieved by futures studies became widely incorporated in other sets of knowledge and in the process of strategic thinking. All this reinforced the emergence of alternatives in the way of thinking and paved the way for a change of paradigms in futures studies.

The following essentials correspond to each of the three decades:

the first decade: between 1968 and the late 1970s -

the early years:the period of proof and acceptance,

the second decade: between the late 1970s and the late 1980s -

the years of stabilisation:the period of busy labour,

the third decade: between the late 1980s and the late 1990s -

the years of renewal:the period of diversification for futures studies in Hungary.

The diverse research character of the three decades is manifest in scientific research, teaching and the trends in national and international relations. In what follows, the diverse character of these three decades will be presented through the changes taking place in these three fields.

  1. Scientific research

The peculiarities of the three decades are easy to trace if we examine in each the theoretical-methodological subjects we investigated, how the comprehensive Hungarian visions of the future were drawn up and the trends in our practical research.

3.1. The period of proof and acceptance

a) The period of the 1960s and 1970s meant a boom and institutionalisation for futures studies in the industrially developed western countries. As a consequence, we focussed our research work on disseminating the findings of international research and adapting in Hungary the theoretical-methodological-technical results of futures studies. Like other social studies, futures studies is not devoid of worth. Therefore, the new science’s system-specific features customary in the countries of East and Central Europe had to be discovered. Seeing that futures research in Hungary was launched in the socialist system, naturally we sought to establish a link between futures research and planning. Futures research provided a range of variations wider and more novel than customary in planning, thus loosening up the rigid system of planning. Long-range futures studies offered orientation possibilities first and foremost for long-range planning, which in turn provided greater scope for futures studies to raise novel issues and to seek novel answers.

We set ourselves the task of collecting and systematising the methods applicable in futures studies and researched the way they could be adapted in Hungary. In the first decade, we integrated methods of forecasting based on mathematical-statistical procedures into the methodological storehouse of futures research in Hungary, since recognising the more or less unchanging and still prevailing trends and “calculating” the probable (and possibly even the most probable) future possibilities definitely took centre stage in futures research at the time. These methods emphatically assisted economic forecasting and made it scientifically more well-founded.

Analyses facilitating the cognition of world models and global reports, as well as method-specific studies were closely linked to methodological research. These studies paved the way for our attempt to apply methods used in world models to smaller (i.e. country-sized) regions. We linked dealing with global problems to specifying them within the context of Europe and East and Central Europe, thus contributing to the system of objectives of our long-range plans becoming embedded in an international context.

We paid particular attention to the relation between futures research and social planning. The topical tasks of developing futures research were caused, partly as a consequence of debates concerning futurology, by the uneven progress of making future visions and prognostics. This is why research into making future visions became particularly relevant. We elaborated the structure of the future vision and the content of its elements, linking it to social planning. As separate elements of the future vision we considered the natural environment, the technical-economic basis of society, the population figures and social stratification, as well as the categories of lifestyle and values.

b) Work on elaborating future images began in the late 1960s in the research seminars of the University of Economic Sciences.The first Hungarian complex long-range future image , which went up to the year 2000 and thus significantly surpassed the time period (1970-1985) in the officially accepted macro-level, long-range plan, focussed on the net national product per capita. In our forecast for the turn of the millennium we put the desired level of this index at USD 4000, the lower threshold of a post-industrial society. For this, a figure surpassing even the US index of the time, we sought an adequate socio-economic structure in Hungary. In our forecast, Hungarian society at the turn of the millennium would not differ essentially from that of the 1970s as regards economic activity, but would show considerable difference as regards the number of active wage earners and the dependents. We considered the transformation of the structure of employment of vital importance, foreseeing a drop in the agrarian population and a substantial rise in the different branches of the service industry, particularly in scientific research and education. We believed that the more developed and more complex the production processes became, the greater proportion of the workforce would be tied down in education, research and development. The distribution of active wage earners according to the employment structure would differ from the structure that prevailed in the 1960s and 1970s, pointing towards more modern economies. For the period covered by our forecast, we indicated as indispensable that there be significant improvement in the amount of means of production needed and the efficiency of capital assets and accumulation, and that the economic structure undergo a thorough transformation and modernisation.

We applied the so-called top→down approach, using the philosophical principle that micro processes can be reached from macro processes and that the development of the economy determines all other (social, technical-technological and ecological) processes. Even by the means of this methodology we realised and warned about what the more or less unchanging trends foreshadowed as economic hardships that could be expected in Hungary by the 1980s.

c) Satisfying the practical needs in Hungary meant a multidirectional activity. Let it suffice for our purposes now to mention only the studies related to scientific and technological development, water management, transport, the construction industry and urbanisation among the complex structured, sectorial and regional surveys.

3.2. The period of busy labour

a) In the second half of the 1970s and the 1980s the need to seek a qualitatively different, new future arose with increasing persistence. The theoretical-methodological research of the day ranged in Hungary from the investigation of lasting trends through the study of lasting but temporary processes (the so-called “grey zones”), to turning points in development and the newfangled problem management of forecasting qualitative changes. We made a thorough study of modelling the future, the possibilities of forecasting the crucial turning points and social processes, as well as the brand new interrelation of society, the economy and the natural environment.

Futures studies in Hungary looked for new methods in order to elaborate the alternatives. For the purposes of our investigations, we extended the circle of mathematical-statistical methods used and thus we relied more and more extensively on the power functions containing the turning point(s) and the logistic curve. The envelope curve calculations provided a basis for the study of level breakthrough. With increasing regularity, we applied methods based on consulting, such as the Delphi method and the SEER method. Among the modelling methods, we further developed the cross impact method striving to make the algorithm easier to follow: we quantified the interaction between events and trends as well as the limits of probability ranges. We interpreted the extent to which forecasts are verifiable and reliable and worked out a method to “measure” the latter.

b)The second complex long-range future image elaborated in the mid-1980s with the participation of experts from the Futures Research Committee on of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences targeted the period leading up to 2020. This time we focussed on the basic needs of the individual (nutrition, housing, health, schooling and the environment) endeavouring to establish how the growing demand could be met. We were the first to rely on futures studies to establish the range of basic necessities and their fundamental features satisfying which was of utmost importance from the point of view of the long-range balanced development of Hungarian society and the spread of harmonious character traits of the members of that society.

Applying the bottom→up approach, we abided by the philosophical principle that the economy must strive to satisfy the needs arising in society. We concluded that scientifically-based growing needs could be satisfied only by developing science-intensive production and services.

c) In the future-sensitive domains we paid particular attention to the future of social processes, primarily of education, housing and health, and the assessment of these from the point of view of the development of society as a whole. One of the most remarkable undertakings of the 1980’s was outlining the socio-economic alternatives of development in Hungary until the turn of the millennium, including even catastrophic future alternatives, and examining the interaction of the Hungarian economy and the environmental subsystem and forecasting their reciprocal influence. In connection with the latter we relied on the multidisciplinary model (which composed of the sub-models of economy and environmental sectors) to determine whether there was any forecast that was favourable to the Hungarian economy and to the state of the environment alike. Unfortunately, no such forecast was found amid our Hungarian circumstances, as no strategy equally desirable from the point of view of the economy and the environment could be worked out without a radical change in the character of the relationship between the economy and the environment. This also signalled that in future profound changes were necessary in the economy, society and the technological structure, something that futures studies must indicate in advance.

3.3. The period of diversification

In the late 1980s and early 1990s futures studies in Hungary also realised that in order to be able to interpret the behaviour of dynamic systems in a more complex way and to forecast their future state a new philosophy, methodology and methodological means must be found. The future state of systems in an unstable condition is impossible to forecast in the sense that their future state is unpredictable, in other words cannot be foreseen with precision. Scientific prediction, therefore, becomes impossible amid unstable conditions, namely we cannot forecast the new state or future behaviour of the system with precision. In chaotic and/or slightly chaotic systems the desire (and possibility) of drawing up the single (most probable) version of the future must be given up and building a variety of alternatives and scenarios must be favoured instead.

a) Theoretical-methodological research in Hungary, therefore, focussed on the complex investigation of dynamic systems, the study of the behaviour of complex great systems, ways to apply chaos and evolution theories in futures studies, the trends of futures studies (particularly evolutionary and critical futures studies), their relations with the post-modern current of thought, and the extent to which evolutionary modelling and forecasting came true.

This decade brought some novelties also in the methodological arsenal of short-range prognostication in Hungary. The systematisation and further development of the theoretical background and methodological means of business cycle research, as well as the development of the mathematical-statistical means of business and financial prognostication and the building of its system of information technology coincided with the new demands made on futures studies and forecasting. Accounting, statistics and prognostics came to display closer ties than before.

Researching the repercussions in futures studies of the change of the social and economic era, with particular emphasis on globalisation and regionalisation, and researching the concept of the future of certain trends in economic theory were the products of this decade too. The rise in value of the role of the human factor, the individual directed the spotlight onto research on future orientation. Determining the components of future orientation made us more familiar with the way Hungarian people, including mainly the youth, companies and enterprises, related to (and feared most about) the future.

b) We applied a new type of approach in our investigation ofthe complex image of the future carried out between the 1990s and the turn of the millennium. This was warranted by the fact that the conditions of forecasting had changed considerably since the late 1980s. A change had set in the way the socialist countries, collapsing one by one like a domino puzzle, related to the developed West and the globalising world, in the progress Hungarian society made on the road to democracy and in the way people articulated their individual opinions and aspirations more forcefully than before. The main characteristics of the new approach are the following:

forecasting is done amid the change of paradigms in a broad sense and the conditions of instability in a complex sense;

the survey gives greater relevance to the individual, primarily as a bio-psycho-social being who relates to the future in a way more direct than before and who, by interpreting a greater variety of future variations, wishes to obtain/retain greater freedom to choose and to decide;

the individual must come up to and conform to the expectations of the future even amid the changes, catastrophes and future shock factors besetting society, nature and the economy; all this may be assisted by the new social and individual values;

the new type of investigation of the vision of the future breaks with the notion that the level of development and the future course of development of the economic subsystem unequivocally determines the society of the future, so the numerical forecasting of conventional macro indicators (e.g. the GDP) is relegated to a minor role, while more attention is focussed on questions reflecting the interests and values of the members of society, such as the future orientation of individuals and institutions.

The fundamental dilemma of working out a new image of the future is that today it is impossible to outline the probable (or the most probable) future version and the image of the future built upon it. What can be attempted is to seek future alternatives by discovering the links between the possible future versions which are desirable for the individual and society and which can be detected from the development of the economy and politics. In order to elaborate these with a philosophical approach we opted for the combined application of the top→down approach (which sets out from the macro processes of the economy and politics) and the bottom→up approach (which sets out from the attitude to the future of the individual and social institutions). In this framework we were able to compare the possible versions of the future offered by the economic and political conditions, and the versions of the future desired by society and its members. This comparison could not serve as a balance, however. Nor could it be carried out like before, in a more or less mechanical way, because - due to the instability of the processes - the balance (and stability) do not come automatically, and at the same time the members of society now have considerable powers to shape the future.

Instabilities (sensitivities) emerge in processes making up the future, in expectations related to the future and in the interests joining the two. It is the change in the values that expresses what society and its members want to and are willing to accept from among the future possibilities ahead of them. Linking the possible with the desirable provides a basis on which to outline the future variations, which can then be put together as future variations and future alternatives. We do not seek the optimal or the desirable future alternative, but present alternatives that are acceptable. The criterion of being acceptable is that the future alternative allows society and its members more latitude, that it allows charting different courses (i.e. different life and professional careers in the case of individuals) and progress along those. Seeking more latitude also expresses the need to create, to “make” the future together with the members of society. That is how the image of the future became Hungarian in character. The variety of future variations indicates that the social and economic future of Hungary is not yet decided, so forming and shaping it is still possible.

c) The profile of practice-oriented research was renewed and enriched by new additions as a result of the market economy and other factors emerging in the wake of the change of regime. We investigated the relation between community and market decisions; the connection between futures studies, the information technology society and marketing; the futures studies components of the analysis of technological efficiency; the new specifics of business and entrepreneurial forecasting. We had World Bank support to conduct research into the relationship of vocational training and socio-economic development, after which we relied on wide-ranging empirical surveys to work out possible alternatives for the development trends in vocational training. With the financial backing of the so-calledOTKA (Hungarian Scientific Research Fund) programmes we have researched since 1991 a number of theoretical-methodological questions of futures studies, such as the socio-economic development of Hungary, forecasting socio-economic conflicts, Hungary beyond tomorrow, modernisation and social security, paradigms in futures studies, non-conscious and conscious attitudes to the future, modernising the methodology of futures studies in the period of transition, new methodological approach in futures studies, the application of the chaos theory in futures studies, evolutionary models in futures studies, analysing financial time series and further developing their forecasting methods, short-range prognostics models, computer models and tools in prognostication, business cycle research, the role of multinational corporations in business cycle research, forecasting trends in the world economy and their expected repercussions in the security of the Hungarian economy, the local prevalence in Hungary of a global vision of the future, the vision of the future of Hungarian education, the social, economic and structural effect of the village on regional agrarian production, the vision of the future of Hungarian librarianship, possibilities of linking strategies of different time spans, and the turn of the millennium before and after us.

With our work, we link onto the research activities of nation-wide strategic institutions and take part in determining the development trends of small regions. These activities show our more intensive participation in the preparation of decisions.

The greater freedom in both Hungary and the international atmosphere has helped us to carry out valuable research, the results of which have been widely acclaimed. All this provides a sound basis for us to participate in international conferences. The number of our publications abroad has also shown a promising increase.

3.4. Scientific results displayed

The results we have reached in the field of futures studies are documented in books, textbooks and university course books, and in studies published in scientific journals and delivered as conference lectures. Books on the theoretical-methodological aspects of futures studies can count on widespread interest and they are particularly informative.The list of comprehensive books on futures studies published in Hungarian and in foreign languages between 1970 and 2001 can be found as part of the bibliography at the end of this study.

Prognostics, launched in the 1970s and practically the only medium until the 1980s, published by the Science Organisation Group of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, provided an excellent forum for futures studies publications. Since the 1980sThe Economy and Society journal of the Institute of Social Research and Forecasting has provided a forum for futures studies. The Futures Studies Centre of the University of Economic Sciences publishes specific forecasts for Hungary in its series calledFutures Studies , while the series calledFutures Theories contains the latest theoretical-methodological results of futures studies. The review calledPlanetary Consciousness promotes futures studies on the whole.

Conferences on futures studies can boast a long-standing tradition in Hungary. The1st Hungarian Futures Studies Conference was held in 1972 with the full exclusion of the press and the media. At that stage we wished to probe the role of futures research in the socialist planned economy and its situation in Hungary.The 2nd Hungarian Futures Studies Conference (1978), which attracted many participants, dealt with complex visions of the future, prognoses and plans as well as methodological issues. One of the sections of the3rd Hungarian Futures Studies Conference in 1985 transcended the turn of the millennium analysing the development expected in Hungary for 2020. The second section focussed on the socio-economic development of the 1980's and the crucial turning points. An independent (third) section at the same conference examined the bases for predicting company strategies. The4th Futures Studies Conference was held in 1993, the third decade of futures studies in Hungary. It focussed on the threshold of the 21st century and relied on new points of view to outline the socio-economic development of Hungary in the period following the turn of the millennium. The5th Hungarian Futures Studies Conference , held in 1998, looked back over the development of futures studies in Hungary in the past 30 years and displayed the results achieved in the new fields of research. At the scientific conference organised in 2000 on the 175th anniversary of the founding of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences we discussed the past, present and future of futures studies in Hungary together with the results already achieved and the new challenges ahead. The material of the conferences is available in volumes edited in Hungarian.

  1. University-level teaching

4.1. The period of proof and acceptance

The teaching of futures studies in higher education in Hungary began simultaneously with the emergence of the discipline, as it was in the very institutions of higher education that we began to cultivate this field of science. In the early days, lecturers and students studied together the theoretical and methodological questions of this new branch of science, applying the method of learning through research. They collected and assessed the methods used in forecasting and forecasts made elsewhere, striving to further develop them and to make up new forecasts themselves. Teaching later benefited from the contents of different theses and papers as well as from the results of research carried out for practical institutions.

The teaching of knowledge related to futures studies, primarily economic prognostics, began to appear sporadically in the mid-1960s and to be taught from the late 1960s at the University of Economic Sciences. The teaching of Futures Research as a discipline began as early as 1968 at the University of Economic Sciences, to be followed by the Budapest Technical University and the Semmelweis University of Medicine in 1972. In 1978, the Janus Pannonius University of Pécs followed suit too.

Integrating the results of research into teaching happened fast not only in the university cradle of futures studies; the lecturers and researchers of other Hungarian universities were also quick to realise the potential and to seize the opportunity this branch of science offered. This discipline was cultivated and taught, on the one hand, by those lecturers and researchers who were interested in the philosophical-theoretical-methodological issues of the future and, on the other hand, by those who were more into “calculating” the future, namely took up an interest in its methods and methodology. This discipline also attracted other people with an interest in certain specific aspects of the future, such as the future of cities, the future of societies, the question of robots and/or humans, and the consequences of environmental pollution.

The introduction of futures studies in the different higher educational institutions was by no means smooth sailing. As fast as the university lecturers and researchers made progress in acquiring, developing and adapting in Hungary the new scientific knowledge and in finding the adequate ways of passing it onto the students, so slow was the institutionalisation of this branch of science in academic circles. In none of the universities did senior decision-makers see it fit to include the discipline of futures studies among the main subjects of the given institution and allocate a sufficient number of teaching periods for it. University lecturers and researchers, therefore, had to take a stand on many an occasion so that the subject would be included and kept permanently in the curriculum. The teaching of this subject never reached a massive scale, which had the positive result that tuition took the form of tutorials and there was time for intellectual exchange.

4.2. The period of busy labour

As a consequence of the welcome growth of futures studies knowledge, teaching and research experience, the educational curriculum of universities in Hungary grew more and more ample in the field of futures studies and branched out in each university in keeping with the profile of the given college. The Technical University of Budapest, beside philosophical issues, investigated the future of technology, the University of Pécs and the University of Miskolc, which started teaching futures studies in 1987, researched and taught company and business prediction, while the University of Economic Sciences focussed on complex, integrative futures studies.

The university-level teaching of futures studies split into two main branches in the 1980s. One continued to be characterised by the shaping of attitude, the best possible adaptation to the profile of a given university, while the other’s principle feature was total immersion in futures studies as a profession. These two branches of teaching bolstered and complemented each other well.

4.3. The period of diversification

The collapse of the old regime posed new challenges for the teaching of futures studies. By the 1990s the proportion of purely theoretical-methodological topics and subjects had universally decreased in teaching, and the processing, analysing and assessing of specific forecasts had gained more and more ground. Information technology became an integral part of teaching futures studies. Teaching practical forecasting emerged relatively late at the university level in Hungary, so the application of the principle of “knowing how to do it” has only recently become one of the strengths of teaching futures studies in higher education in Hungary.

Futures studies spread in education under various names. Since futures studies is most markedly related to the training of economists, most of the subjects specialised in teaching the topics of economic forecasting. Business cycle research, financial forecasting, business forecasting, economic and entrepreneurial forecasting, socio-economic forecasting, etc. grew into independent subjects. At the same time, new subjects emerged (e.g. the future of environmental systems, social forecasting, education) which deal with the special issues of forecasting in spheres outside the economy.

By now, teaching futures studies and forecasting has a consolidated place in the activities of the Budapest University of Economic Sciences and Public Administration, the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, the University of Pécs, the University of Miskolc and, since September 1996, the University of West Hungary (in Sopron) too. The subjects of futures studies usually enter on the gradual level of teaching and appear among the optional subjects. They generally last one term. Teaching usually takes the form of lectures and seminars, with occasional consultations and computer sessions.

In the course of the 1990s more and more university textbooks and teaching materials on futures studies were published in Hungary. The first to appear as a guide on complex problem management was the teaching material of the University of Economic Sciences entitled Futures Research. Other university textbooks in the field of business forecasting were published in co-operation by Pécs, Miskolc and Budapest, and textbooks came out on business cycle research, applied system analysis and information technology too. The series called Futures Studies and Futures Theories, launched at the University of Economic Sciences in the second half of the 1990s, provide standard information on the one hand and develop undergraduates’ practical forecasting skills on the other hand.

  1. International relations

5.1. The period of proof and acceptance

The international relations of futures research in Hungary developed relatively fast. First, we became familiar with the work of the futures research and forecasting workshops of the socialist countries (particularly of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and the Soviet Union) within the framework of bilateral co-operation. Then, our contacts widened and became multilateral primarily due to our active participation in forecasting summer seminars and forecasting summer courses organised within the framework of COMECON for young scientists.

Already from the 1970s we participated also in the world conferences of the World Futures Studies Federation (e.g. in Rome 1973), first as fellows, but soon with papers.

5.2. The period of busy labour

In the 1980s we relied on the COMECON forum too to enlighten the planning-oriented attitude of the socialist countries and to promote a long-range, forecasting way of thinking.Géza Kovács was the chairman of the COMECON-backed Prognostic Working Groups of the Committee on Scientific and Technological Co-operation for six years and of the COMECON’s Prognostic Working Group for three years. As specialists,Éva Hideg, Mrs. Mosoni Judit Fried and Erzsébet Nováky also participated in the methodological work.Erzsébet Nováky was the COMECON’s representative in Hungary for 10 years in the field of environmental forecasting.

In those years we participated in every world conferences of the World Futures Studies Federation (Stockholm 1982, Costa Rica 1984, Hawaii 1986, Beijing 1988) and at the most summer universities organised in Dubrovnik mostly as lecturers.

In the 1980s we opened up, mainly through the Futures Research Committee of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, towards the prominent world centres of futures studies, particularly towards the World Futures Studies Federation. This world organisation held itsEuropean Regional Experts’ Conference in Hungary in 1987 under the title of “The Technology of the Future and Its Social Implications”, which mobilised futures studies experts and people interested in futures from far and wide in Hungary. The conference highlighted that technical and social development mutually determined each other. Technological development offers alternatives for society, and the latter will then decide which among the possible alternatives it will enlist in the service of social development.

5.3. The period of diversification

After the collapse of the old regime the international relations of futures studies in Hungary became unfortunately looser with the universities and research institutes of the former socialist countries, and at the same time strengthened with futures studies institutes and university departments in Western Europe (Italy, Finland, Austria and Germany) and the United States (Buffalo, Houston and Honolulu). Ties grew stronger with international futures studies organisations, particularly with the World Futures Studies Federation (WFSF) and the World Futures Society (WFS). We managed to establish personal, friendly ties with internationally renowned futures researchers (such asMagda McHale, Eleonora Masini, Jim Dator, Pentti Malaska, Tony Stevenson and Rick Slaughter ). This was made possible by our study trips to several countries and international workshop discussions of the educational programmes of futures studies as a subject in a curriculum.

We held the WFSF’s XIWorld Futures Studies Conference entitled “Linking Present Decisions to Long-Range Visions” in Budapest in 1990 following Professor József Bognár’s proposal. The participants of the world conference stressed that there should be closer links between long-range visions and decisions taken in the present in order for our actions to be more authentic, more well-founded and more future-oriented at the same time.

Part of the success of organising this world conference lay in the previous fruitful activity of Hungarian futures researchers within the WFSF.Mária Kalas-Kőszegi was a member of the Executive Board of the World Federation between 1986-1997, andErzsébet Gidai was the Secretary of the European Liaison of the World Federation between 1987 and 1992. More and more of us (e.g.Éva Hideg, Tamás Gáspár ) have since joined the work of the WFSF.Erzsébet Nováky has been a member of the Executive Board since 1997.

It has become more and more evident in the course of our regular and active participation with papers and by chairing section meetings at world conferences of the WFSF (Barcelona 1971, Turku 1993, Brisbane 1997, Bacolod 1999) and through the international exchange of experience that the futures studies activity going on in Hungary has come up with results praiseworthy even by international standards. This has gained expression, among other things, in the fact that the WFSF has askedErzsébet Nováky and her co-workers from the department to organise and manage the biennialBudapest Futures Course . The first summer university (meant to replace the futures studies courses of the summer university of Dubrovnik), in co-operation with young colleagues and assistants successfully held in 1999, focussed on the future orientation of young people. It relied on comparative analyses to show the differences in future orientation in various countries together with their elements. The participants stressed the determining role of values in future orientation, which is why the Budapest Futures Course 2001 to be held in Budapest in August 2001 will channel the flow of discussion towards the connection between changing values and forming new societies.

It is welcome news that Hungary already has an honorary doctor of futures studies in the person ofEleonora Barbieri Masini , professor of the Rome Pontifical Gregorian University and the former President of the WFSF, upon whom the Budapest University of Economic Sciences conferred this honour in March 1998. Her lecture on “The Role of Futures Studies in the Global Society” was followed with avid interest in the audience.

  1. Conclusions for the future

In keeping with the logical structure of this paper, our conclusions are related to the scientific research, teaching, the practical sphere and international relations of futures studies.

As Hungarian futures studies wishes to continue to take an active part in further developing futures studies as a discipline, we wish to devote particular attention to the research of new paradigms in futures studies; to elaborating forecasting methodologies in accordance with the paradigms describing chaotic conditions; and to the development of methods accompanying these.

The thorough study of the information society and preparing our society to receive it are cardinal goals. Our task is to reinforce society’s sensitivity towards what is new and to discover the changed role of technology foresight.

We are searching for the new ways and forms of expression as to how the individual and society relate to the future, placing emphasis on researching the future orientation of Hungarian society according to new points of view and examining the connection between non-conscious and conscious attitudes to the future. On the level of society, it is well worth studying the process of pluralisation of people’s way of thinking about the future.

The further development (broadening and deepening) of teaching futures studies is desirable. The scientific deepening of the contents of futures studies subjects and the constant widening of the topics included in futures studies programmes with a view to international equivalence is an ongoing task of adapting to the changing circumstances. We can identify as a goal spreading the teaching of futures studies from university to college level, with particular attention to teacher training, and taking it even one step further, to secondary school education too.

Developing and applying new methods seem necessary in order to increase student participation and interest. In the course of this, the widespread application of futures workshop techniques is just as topical as the more integral use of computer modelling and multimedia solutions in education on the whole.

It is a topical and future-oriented task to achieve that futures studies grow into a “profession”, in other words, that futures studies be acknowledged in Hungary as an independent profession on the basis of an adequate structure of knowledge and skills. Amid Hungarian university conditions, this is based on the precondition that there be a stronger link between futures studies and the other subjects taught at the different universities, that future thinking be an integral part of teaching at all universities.

We consider it important that an ever-growing circle of undergraduates become familiar with the basics of futures studies as an obligatory subject so as to constitute a source of apt students who can subsequently be trained for the creative cultivation of futures studies. There should be an independent futures studies Ph.D. programme in Hungary as soon as possible.

Making long-range, medium-range and short-range attitudes more compact is a precondition to renewing the practice of forecasting in Hungary. Futures studies must undertake an ever greater role in reinforcing the strategic attitude.

We strive to provide as multilateral answers as possible to questions raised by Hungarian reality which affect the future. With a view to this, it is advisable for the universities to maintain closer ties with the regional units of forecasting, with consulting companies and the business sphere.

We consider our co-operation with the former socialist countries in the field of research and education an excellent basis for the development of international relations. Beside bilateral relations comprehensive co-operation involving several countries ought to be developed too. Credit-based education may hold great potential.

Ties with the World Futures Studies Federation ought to be strengthened too, for which modern Internet technology can provide an adequate background.

In order for the goals ahead of us to materialise, the young people who belong to the generation of change must be granted an increasing role. Co-operation with young people provides an excellent ground for the research of new problems, for the elaboration and application of new research methods, and may pave the way for the renewal of futures studies in the next 30 years.

Bibliography - Comprehensive books on futures studies written by Hungarian authors, 1970-2001

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Futurology - Reading book , I-IV. (Compiled. Korompai, A., Kovács, G., Nováky, E.) Futurology Group National Economic Planning Department, University of Economic Sciences, Budapest, 1971 (in Hungarian)

Korán, I.:Futures research and economic forecasting Közgazdasági és Jogi Könyvkiadó, Budapest, 1972 (in Hungarian)

Gidai, E.:What is futures research? Kossuth Könyvkiadó, Budapest, 1974

Kovács, G.:Crucial Turning Points of Future Development. Közgazdasági és Jogi Könyvkiadó, Budapest, 1975 (in Hungarian)

Nováky, E.:Methods in Forecasting. Tankönyvkiadó, Budapest, 1976 (in Hungarian)

Glossary for Futures Research . Akadémai Kiadó, Budapest, 1976

From the desirable future to possible futures (studies on future research) (ed. Fodor, J., Gábor, É.) Gondolat Kiadó, Budapest, 1976 (in Hungarian)

Sipos, B., Borli, K.:Forecasting for industrial enterprises using methods of mathematical statistics Közgazdasági és Jogi Könyvkiadó, Budapest, 1977 (in Hungarian)

Besenyei, L., Gidai, E., Nováky, E.:Practice of Futures Research and Forecasting .A Handbook of Methodology Közgazdasági és Jogi Könyvkiadó, Budapest, 1977 (in Hungarian)

Korán, I.:Economic Forecasting Tankönyvkiadó, Budapest, 1978

Kovács, G.:Future Research - Social Planning. Közgazdasági és Jogi Könyvkiadó, Budapest, 1979 (in Hungarian)

Sárkány, P.:World food crises Közgazdasági és Jogi Könyvkiadó, Budapest, 1979 (in Hungarian)

Korán, I.:Global models. From the reports of the Club of Rome to the initiative of the UN Közgazdasági és Jogi Könyvkiadó, Budapest, 1980 (in Hungarian)

Besenyei, L., Gidai, E., Nováky, E.:Forecasting - Reliability - Reality Közgazdasági és Jogi Könyvkiadó, Budapest, 1982 (in Hungarian)

Sipos, B.:Production functions - business forecasts. Közgazdasági és Jogi Könyvkiadó, Budapest, 1982 (in Hungarian)

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Future Research in Hungary (ed. by Bóna, E., Gábor, É., Sárkány, P., co-ed. Biró, D.) Akadémai Kiadó, Budapest, 1983

Kovács, G.:Global Problems - National Perspectives Kossuth Könyvkiadó, Budapest, 1983 (in Hungarian)

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Benedek, A., Nováky, E., Szűcs, P.:Technological Development in Education. Tankönyvkiadó, Budapest, 1986 (in Hungarian)

Economy and Society in the Eighties in Hungary III .Tendencies and the Expected Transformation of Social and Economic Development (ed. by Gidai, E.) Társadalomtudományi Intézet, Budapest, 1986 (in Hungarian)

Chances for the Future (ed. Némethi, G.): MTA Szociológiai Kutató Intézet, Budapest, 1987 (in Hungarian)

Forecasting, Planning and Modeling in Environmental Protection (ed. by Nováky, E.) Környezetvédelmi és Vízgazdálkodási Minisztérium, Budapest, 1990 (in Hungarian)

Gidai, E.:Future alternatives. Possibilities for forecasting of socio-economic development. Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, 1990 (in Hungarian)

Korán, I.:Building stones of future in the present and the ways of the future . Szakszervezetek Gazdaság- és Társadalomkutató Intézete, Budapest, 1990

Developing Environmental Strategies through Futures Research (ed. by Nováky, E.) Környezetvédelmi és Területfejlesztési Minsztérium, Budapest, 1991 (in Hungarian and in English)

Czabán, J., Nováky, E.:Business Forecasting I. Tankönyvkiadó, Budapest, 1991 (in Hungarian)

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Kovács, G.: Modernization and social security. Budapesti Közgazdaságtudományi Egyetem Jövőkutatás Tanszék, Budapest, 1995 (in Hungarian)

Chaos and futures research (ed. Nováky, E.) Budapesti Közgazdaságtudományi Egyetem Jövőkutatás Tanszék, Budapest, 1995 (in Hungarian)

Hideg, É., Kappéter, I., Nováky, E.:Vocational tranining at the crossroads (ed. Hideg, É.). Munkaügyi Minsztérium, Budapesti Közgazdaságtudományi Egyetem Jövőkutatás Tanszék, Honfoglalás Betéti Társaság, Budapest, 1995 (in Hungarian)

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On the Eve of the 21st century (ed. Gidai, E). Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, 1998

Hideg, É., Nováky, E.:Vocational training and the future . Aula Kiadó, Budapest, 1998 (in Hungarian)

Postmodern and Evolutionary Ideas in Futures Studies (ed. Hideg, É.) Budapesti Közgazdaságtudományi Egyetem Jövőkutatás Tanszék, Budapest, 1998 (in Hungarian)

Introduction to the Information Society (ed. Nováky, E.) KIT, Budapest, 1999 (in Hungarian)

Sipos, B.:Business forecasting (Theroy - Methodology - Softwares) Janus Pannonius Egyetemi Kiadó, Pécs, 1999 (in Hungarian)

The Youth for a Less Selfish Future. Papers of the I. Budapest Futures Course (ed. by Nováky, E., Kristóf, T.) Department of Futures Studies Budapest University of Economic Sciences and Public Administration, Budapest, 2000

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