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AAVMC Undertakes Foresight Project to Plan for the Future of Veterinary Medicine
Can you imagine the world 25 years from now? How will advances in science and medicine impact human and animal health? What new diseases will be in the headlines, creating fear and concern? Will we have converted from a nation dependent on oil to one embracing renewable fuel sources? Will fears of bioterrorism be abated? What countries around the world will be pursuing nuclear ambitions?
If you can free your thinking and imagine the world 25 years from now, you might be a natural at the use of foresight. As a tool, foresight does not predict or forecast the future; it anticipates and creates multiple, plausible futures that are believable and possible. The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) has undertaken a foresight project to help it plan for, and perhaps even help shape, the 21 st Century Veterinary Horizons.
"The foresight project will play an important role in the future of veterinary medical education, as we investigate the possible future scenarios and begin to emphasize and build programs that will meet the needs of future societies," said Dr. Lance Perryman, Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and President-Elect of the AAVMC. "This process includes the establishment of a Scoping Committee upon which Dr. Edward Hoover (a University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology) has been asked to serve."
The AAVMC held its first meeting on its Foresight Project on February 2 in Ottawa, Canada. At this meeting, participants learned about foresight and the foresight process. Foresight is a systematic approach, drawing on a set of tools, for anticipating the future. It permits preparation for diverse challenges with adequate lead time. Foresight carries the expectation that through the collective experience, imaginative abilities, and interactive knowledge of a wide range of expertise, a coherent view of a 10-25 year future horizon can be constructed. Foresight encourages participants to imagine possible futures without it being an extension of present thinking.
Briefly, the foresight process incorporates 10 steps:
In the Scoping meeting, participants will frame the environment for the study, initiate the development of challenge questions, and develop parameters and definitions of future scenarios. In a series of two workshops, larger groups will develop responses to challenge questions and develop future scenarios. The Scoping Committee will analyze and synthesize the results of the workshops. A final report will be prepared and presented to the Executive Board of the AAVMC.
"The final report should be a valuable planning tool to veterinary colleges that want to create and shape their own future, rather than reacting to forces around them," said Dr. Perryman. "It gives us the opportunity to be participants in a process that will help us move in directions most beneficial to society."