The Public Interest

The Study of the Future

Daniel Bell

Fall 1965

This is an era in which society has become “future-oriented” in its thinking. The French Commissariat du Plan last year set up a 1985 Committee to explore different choices in the use of the expected increases in French national income. The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is creating a Commission on the Year 2000 (which, after all, is less than thirty-five years away), to anticipate social problems and to design new institutions to cope with them. The Ford Foundation has underwritten such varied projects as Resources for the Future, Inc., which has assembled statistical estimates, based on requirements and availabilities, of American physical resources (heat and power, metals, water, food, outdoor recreation, and the like), and the European-based project, Futuribles, directed by Bertrand de Jouvenel, which has sponsored almost a hundred speculative essays under the rubic “The Future of...Pakistan, Greece, India, etc.,” as well as detailed studies of methods of planning and prediction, and of expected changes in the major institutions of society. 

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