Futures studies and the policy sciences

by Peter DeLeon

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This paper details part of an effort to evaluate Sweden's Secretariat for Futures Studies. The author identifies two basic issues regarding futures studies--their legitimacy, and criteria for evaluating them. The author reviews some of the tenets of the policy sciences to determine whether they might help derive a template for justifying and evaluating futures studies. He finds that the policy sciences and futures studies share a problem-oriented contextuality, a multidisciplinary approach, and a concern with human values. Finally, they both have more in common with the methods of the social sciences than with the natural sciences. Time horizons and policy applications distinguish the two fields, however. The author concludes that, drawing upon the intellectual and analytical capital of the policy sciences, futures studies can represent a legitimate and epistemologically sound exercise in public policymaking.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

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