CPPR hosts futures thinking workshop for middle school students

Middle school boy speaking on a mic in front of the group

On May 3, 2024, CPPR hosted a second Alternatives Futures for Kansas workshop, this time for middle school students in Lawrence, Kansas. With Dani Lotton-Barker, Southwest Middle School educator, and Bonnie Johnson, director and professor in Urban Planning Program within the University of Kansas School of Public Affairs and Administration, CPPR facilitated a futures thinking workshop focused on student voices. 

“When CPPR received a request for a student-centered version of our November community workshop, we were incredibly excited,” said Jackie Counts, executive director of CPPR. “One of our goals is to share the principles of strategic foresight and give students the opportunity to learn how to apply futures thinking into their own lives. We hope to continue these student workshops in the future.” 

Teachers and Jackie Counts speaking in front of the group of middle school children
Two middle school girls presenting in front of the group
Leader presenting ideas on white board to small group

With their prior experience or interest in Future City, the students worked well in small groups to create a holiday we might celebrate in 2034. They shared insights of their visions for the future and reflected on the experience of using foresight strategies when addressing current and future challenges. With this dynamic exchange between students, educators, and university researchers, the workshop provided a collaborative space that placed student perspectives at the forefront of future planning.  

“Before teaching I was a city planner for 8 years, and the planning profession is about organizing hope. It is about looking to the future and helping communities of all sizes and types think about the future and pursue their goals through their day-to-day decision making,” said Bonnie Johnson. “When I heard about this workshop, I just had to be part of it. Maybe we sparked the imagination of a future city planner or citizen who will want to help make their community’s dreams come true someday.” 

Read more about the May 3rd student workshop

Summary graphic recording of "what artifact will you bring to the future?"