Workshop to be held on strategic foresight and deep uncertainty

The College of Engineering and the Atlantic Council to host 'Shaping the Future of the Human-Technology Systems Frontier'

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State College of Engineering and the Atlantic Council will host “Shaping the Future of the Human-Technology Systems Frontier,” a workshop on strategic foresight, deep uncertainty and leadership, May 15 to 17 in Washington, D.C.

The workshop, organized by Darryl Farber, assistant teaching professor in Penn State’s School of Engineering Design, Technology, and Professional Programs, aims to help early- and mid-career professionals develop strategic and systems thinking capabilities. Workshop attendees will identify and analyze trends, trend breaks and game changers that shape the future, with the aim of learning to ask the right questions to enable proactive and actionable strategizing.

“It is a personally enriching experience to engage with world-class thinkers and practitioners in thinking through possible alternative futures, and what it means for those, who need to steer the course of their organizations,” Farber said.

The event will begin on Tuesday, May 15, at the Atlantic Council. Mathew Burrows, director of the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security’s Foresight, Strategy, and Risks Initiative; Farber; and Penn State President Eric Barron will introduce the workshop to attendees. Additional topics for the day include the need for strategic foresight and analysis for platforms and systems — the tools of strategic foresight and deep uncertainty.

Tuesday’s events also will include an evening reception held in the Great Hall of the National Academy of Sciences Building in Washington, D.C. The reception will include a discussion titled “Socioengineering Systems Innovation: Forces of Disruption and Leadership” and will also moderate a conversation with Norman Augustine, retired CEO and chairman of Lockheed Martin, along with an esteemed panel and the reception attendees.

The workshop also will include presentations on topics such as “Introduction to Systems and Platforms,” and “Methodological Primer – The tools of strategic foresight and deep uncertainty” that will be conducted on Wednesday and Thursday. 

The event will conclude with a short discussion on the lessons learned during the workshop and the next steps that should be taken on Thursday afternoon.

The workshop, which has been in development for more than a year, was initiated during a conversation between Farber and Burrows in March 2017. Farber said he believes that there is more need than ever for this workshop because of “the acceleration of technology and its impact on society across multiple sectors, especially regarding the future of work and the implications for employment.”

The program is co-sponsored by the following colleges, departments, schools and institutes at Penn State: Smeal College of Business; College of the Liberal Arts; Eberly College of Science; College of Earth and Mineral Sciences; Schreyer Honors College; Applied Research Lab; Institute for Cyberscience; Materials Research Institute; Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences; Institutes of Energy and the Environment; School of Engineering Design, Technology, and Professional Programs; School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics; Department of Statistics; Department of Chemistry; Center for Supply Chain Research; and the Rock Ethics Institute.

This workshop is designed for government officials, nongovernmental organizations, industry executives, academic faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students.To register for the entire three-day workshop or the May 15 reception only, visit

Last Updated March 21, 2018