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Regent Launches ‘Futures’ Degree: 2006

by Dr Jay Gary, May 10, 2006

future_studies_booksThis past summer Regent University announced the launch of a M.A. of Strategic Foresight degree, a  project I have been working on for two years. This unique online program allows mid-career professions to study the future in the context of organizational decision-making, while continuing to work full-time.

It is an awesome Master’s degree for anyone who wants to become a strategic and forward-thinking leader in their field. Some of the early people enrolling in this program have been bivocational pastors, intelligence officers in national security, development officers for non-profits, mission agency CEOs, and business consultants. You take courses in leadership, futures thinking, social change, forecasting, scenarios, strategy formation; plus electives in your area of speciality. For more on the program, see the Foresight program page, and then contact me with your questions.

It took me a decade to learn how to make sense of the future, that creates value to both church and society. Now you can formally get your M.A. in this subject in just 24 months! Regent also offers a certficate in Futures Studies, for those who want only 40% of the program, for career development purposes. Our next application deadlines are July 1st, Nov 1st and April 1st, to enter the program either in the Fall, Spring or Summer.

This represents the first time that a Christian university has offered a degree in futures studies. Here is the inside scoop of how this program got launched. In the fall of 2002, I heard that Dr. Bruce Winston, an associate dean at that time, had been attending the World Future Society since 2001. Dr. Winston and I struck up a conversation at that time by email about how Regent might combine foresight and leadership studies.

It wasn’t until the next Spring that things really developed. My son asked me to fly back East and help him drive his new used car back West. While I was in Virginia I took the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Winston. He asked me to design a doctoral residency conference that fall for his students. That became Foresight 2003, with Dr. Peter Bishop and other futurists, a national conference that has continued each year since.

A year later we began seriously talking about what it would take to design and launch a Master of Strategic Foresight. I began working on the project then, doing feasibility studies and seeking counsel of leading futures educators worldwide, as well as Christian futurists. By the summer of 2004 Regent approved the project, allowing Dr. Peter Bishop and I to begin developing the online courseware.

Once the program launches in the fall of 2006, various professional futurists will join me as adjuncts. The announcement of the new M.A. in futures is just the tip of the iceberg, however. Regent’s School of Business & Leadership presently has nearly 600 students in distance education students enrolled in five other degree programs  1) three M.A.s & an MBA, 2) an applied Doctorate, and 3) a research PhD.

To date I have created a 3-course futures concentration series for Regent’s existing M.A. in Organizational Leadership. I also created and now teach a 3rd year foresight track for their Doctoral Students in Strategic Leadership (DSL). Similar options are open for their PhD students to focus their research on strategic leadership theory and environmental change.

Some of my professional futures colleagues have asked me whether Regent, as a private school with religious heritage, would be a good fit for mid-career professions to earn a masters or doctorate? I admit this is a factor to consider. Regent was founded in the Pentecostal tradition. Yet today the school is fully ecumenical and 1/3 of the School of Business & Leadership faculty are from overseas.

Regent faculty in Leadership are fully conversant with the realist-objectivist vs. idealist-subjectivist split, as the Morgan and Burrell typology has popularized. They encourage both quantitative and qualitative research into organizations and leadership. And any work students do in ‘Christian worldview’ is balanced by critical theory and ideological analysis, similar to how both Jesus and Paul analyzed the Roman and Herodian Jewish state.

While Regent is a newcomer to offer strategic foresight, its strengths in strategic and servant leadership theory give it a boost, and may strengthen the fields of social forecasting and strategic foresight for years to come.

For more on the program, see the Foresight program page at Regent.

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