Since its inception in 2003, Quaker Institute for the Future (QIF) was designed and set up as a network organization. Its projects of research, discernment, and witness have not been significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Its annual five-day Summer Research Seminar (SRS) shifted to an online format in 2020 with good results. Planning for the 2021 SRS is underway.
QIF currently has two Circles of Discernment engaged in collective research: one on regenerative agriculture and one on the ethical context of artificial intelligence. QIF Focus Books on these subjects will be forthcoming. An additional Focus Book on the emerging field of ecological law is in preparation based on the work of a QIF Board member. A number of QIF associates continue with their individual research projects, which feed into the Institute’s mission of advancing a global future of inclusion, social justice, and ecological integrity through participatory research, discernment, and witness.
Quaker Institute for the Future (QIF) held its Summer Research Seminar via Zoom from August 3–7 with 28 participants. The seminar functions on three levels: (1) the presentation of research, (2) collective discernment and feedback through worship sharing (Quaker dialogue), and (3) open discussion. Research reports included: regenerative agriculture; ecological vulnerability in the Gambia; monoculture and ecological law; the monetary system and social crisis; the threats and opportunities of artificial intelligence; a visual tour of quarantine, riots, and monuments. Themed discussion sessions were also held on communities of security, Black Lives Matter, seeking truth amid falsity, and the post-COVID-19 future.
Holding the seminar via Zoom was prompted by the pandemic, but QIF had already been experimenting with a virtual mode of networking. Seminar participants agreed the week was a success and points to a potential expansion of QIF programming. The Zoom format doubled the number of participants and allowed people to attend who could not otherwise have made the trip in person.
Three QIF Focus Books are in process, all of which were represented in research presentations: regenerative agriculture, ecological law, and artificial intelligence. QIF Focus Books are designed to present the key aspects of the ecological, economic, and social realities of our time and analyze how they are affecting the future.