Future Workshop

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Future workshop is a method for planning and ideation in participatory group processes. It is characterized by the chronological steps of criticism-utopia-reality.

Time2+ hours

Materialmarkers, flipchart paper

Group Size 8-25

Keywords participation, planning, future





Groups analyse social problems, ideate and develop opportunities for collaborative action.

Future Workshop

The concept of Future Workshop (in German: "Zukunftswerkstatt") is a tool for participatory and co-creative community participation. It follows two guiding ideas: 1. Affected persons should become active participants. 2. Problems should transform toward solutions.

Originally created by R. Jungk/N. R. Müllert, the approach was especially becoming popular among German-speaking facilitators in the field of active citizenship and urban co-creation/participation.

  • Normally future workshops last around 1,5 days. The original method was planning up to three days. They have an ideal size between 18 and 25 participants.
  • The approach can be scaled down (although with some loss), like presented in this example here.

Future Workshops can be applied to all kind of topics and in very different contexts. We explain the approach here with the example:

  • A womens’ conference on female empowerment and gender equality

...and how it can be organized in a participatory and action-oriented way.



Introduce the typical phases of a future workshop: "Criticism“, "Utopia“ and "Reality“. Explain how these build on each other:

  • Criticism is often the starting point for civic engagement. It motivates people to becomes proactive and to engage. Utopia is the mission and vision that some people share.
  • Utopism connects people.
  • Reality is the action field where criticism and utopia must come together.

1. Phase of criticism

  • Which gender-specific socializations hinder women in becoming political leaders?
  • What kind of engagement and courage does it take for women to achieve high political positions?
  • To what extent does time play a role in preventing women from engaging in politics?

2. Phase of utopia

Here any thoughts and ideas are allowed: We do not have to be realistic!

  • What must happen so that women can be free to take political leadership?
  • What supports the courage of women to become political leaders?
  • How can women be supported to manage their time to become political leaders?

3. Phase of reality

  • Which utopian ideas can be realized?
  • What are the first steps that have to be put into reality?


  • What were key events in the process?
  • Did you enjoy the process (what element, what concrete event, ...?) What di you not enjoy?
  • To what extent and where in particular was the process helpful?
  • Is a transfer to your context viable?


Dr.in Ingrid Schwarz

Director of the regional Niederösterreich branch of Südwind (AT). Distinguished expert and lecturer for civic education, global learning (among others universities in Vienna and Krems (AT).


By the end of the method clear concepts or at least directions for action are developed. It might be worth thinking of combining such a workshop with advocacy.


After this Future Lab if you have the opportunity you could invite a female politician from the city you have the training in and discuss the points with her.