The Nature and Extent of Foresight-infused Strategy: Futuring the Academy, a Case Study Examination

This session lays out foundational research that explores phenomena in the Academy, including disruptive forces, and explores how strategic foresight can clarify and shape long-term competitive choices.  Seeking to answer what paradigm shifting forces really mean for the future of the Academy as a whole and individual institutions competing for student interest in an increasingly complex world, this paper utilizes a case study approach to interpret disruptions on a Canadian institution facing a challenging present and uncertain future.  Situated within a large research university, the case institution is an affiliated university co-located, yet ompetitively differentiated from its parent, peer affiliates and broader regional, national and global schools.   Scenario are developed for the broader Academy utilizing an environmental and market understanding to better inform predictive actions, originate unique competitive positioning to match constraints, and manage institutional tensions, as envisioned in future institutional plans.   


The case study identifies that for the liberal arts academy, there appears to be myriad future unknowns, including its continued existence in today’s form.  While foresight seeks to better understand “unknowns” of the future, institutions are not being responsive to precursors of future change and are not systematically exploring future options.  Using a case study approach, the authors present four potential scenarios for informing institutional planning focused on anticipating and innovating as a school to lead amongst proximate and further distant competitors. 


The outcomes of this research will be used to better understand student and stakeholder motivation – gain future-oriented market intelligence – and serve to inform future academic practice.   

Key Take-Aways

  • Learn how scenarios and foresight techniques can provide a lens for contextualizing complex non-profit environments 
  • Gain insight into the trends and expectations of stakeholders within the higher education space 
  • Take away real life example of a institution facing internal challenges and competitive realities as it plans for the future 

Speaker profile

Prof. Jan Klakurka is Chair of Management and Organizational Studies at Huron University College (Western) and long-standing Lecturer within the strategy department at Rotman School of Management (Toronto).  Jan’s professional designations include: C. Dir., CPA, CA, APF and CMC, the latter where Jan was past Gold Medalist for Canada (2003).  He is a graduate of University of Toronto (B.Comm.), Ivey Business School (MBA), and Director’s College (McMaster).  Jan’s professional background spans twenty-five years in industry (construction services; waste & recycling), professional services (consulting; public accounting) and academia.  As a member of the Association of Professional Futurists, Jan’s research and practice investigates the intersection of strategic planning, lucid foresight, values and governance.  Current research projects include the future of the academy; foresight competencies of Canadian management; executives’ values influence on long-term orientation, and; the rateocracy within business schools.  At Huron, Jan co-founded the highly successful Governance, Leadership & Ethics interdisciplinary major.