Welcome to Urgent Optimists

an Institute for the Future community

Are you ready to face the future with more creativity and optimism?

Urgent Optimists is Institute for the Future's first individual membership program. We’re bringing together people who want to feel authentically hopeful about the future, and who are working to create positive transformation in society and in their own lives. You're invited to join us to:

  • Take part in fun and inspiring thought experiments and conversations about the future
  • Go on exclusive learning journeys with Institute for the Future researchers

  • Play future forecasting games with people from around the world

  • Learn and practice the essential daily habits of the world's best futurists -- habits that can help us see the future coming and feel ready for anything
  • Experience the magic of collective imagination!

What the world needs now are more urgent optimists.

Urgent optimism is a highly motivating and resilient mindset that combines foresight with creativity. It's made up three key psychological strengths, which we can measure and improve together. 

1. Psychological flexibility. It's the opposite of being “stuck” mentally. It’s the ability to recognize that anything can become different in the future, even things that seem impossible to change today.

2. Realistic hope. It's a balance of positive and shadow imagination. It’s knowing which risks and threats it makes sense to worry about – and which new solutions, technologies, ideas, and positive actions it makes sense to be excited and optimistic about.

3. Future power. It's a feeling of control and genuine agency to directly impact how the future turns out, by taking intentional action today.

Building these strengths is what this community is all about. 

Urgent optimism is not a fixed personality trait. It changes, often, throughout our lives. More importantly, it is changeable – we can purposefully build more urgent optimism when we need it most. Together, we're practicing the proven skills, habits and games that can measurably increase our urgent optimism, even in the face of significant future challenges and uncertainty.

As a member, you'll have full access to:

Scenario Club. Think of it like an online book club -- but for future scenarios! A new scenario, designed by IFTF researchers, drops the first Friday of every month. Each scenario starts with a short narrative, followed by supporting research, discussion questions and creative prompts. You’re also invited to join our monthly Zoom club meeting to go deeper into the scenarios together.

Imagination Training. Dive into the psychology and neuroscience of futures thinking, with online courses led by Jane McGonigal, an IFTF Research Director and New York Times bestselling author of the new book Imaginable: How to See the Future Coming and Feel Ready for Anything, Even Things that Seem Impossible Today.

Tools to measure and increase urgent optimism in yourself, your team, or your community. It's a highly motivating and resilient mindset that helps us face the future with more creativity and hope, and stay engaged with the hard work of making a better world.

"Signals of Hope" Scavenger Hunts. Find and share examples of change already happening today that give you a reason to look forward to future. (Because we all could use a little more hope these days!)

10 Days in the Future. It’s an immersive, 10-day online learning journey that IFTF organizes for our Urgent Optimists once a year. The entire community comes together to simulate an urgent future, from climate migration to geoengineering. We tell stories about how we might personally react, adapt and help others -- and together, we dream of creative solutions to our global grand challenges. Each journey is designed to help you feel ready for what’s next and find your own unique role to play in making a better future.

All the social networking features you need to make deep, lasting connections with urgent optimists from around the world -- including group chat study groups to support your imagination training, a forum to share and get feedback on your own future scenarios, direct messaging, and customizable profiles to tell the world what futures you want to help make.

And more! We’re planning a full calendar of networking events and online fun, including "100 Ways Anything Could Be Different in the Future” parties, “Stump the Futurist” games, and live “Ask me anything” webinars with IFTF researchers and community members.

The future is for everyone.

Urgent Optimists is for everyone interested in developing their future imagination skills, discovering new scenarios, and using their own voices and actions to make a better world. Foresight practitioners are welcome, but it’s not just for the professional foresight community. All are welcome to join. 

Together, we can:

  • Face the biggest risks and most urgent challenges of the future with more hope and creativity
  • Develop the next-level imagination skills to confidently say that no future is “unthinkable” or “unimaginable” to us
  • Use those imagination skills to create transformative positive change in our own lives, our communities, and the world.

Meet your hosts

Urgent Optimists is hosted by Jane McGonigal, a research director at Institute for the Future (IFTF), a three-time TED speaker, and New York Times bestselling author of Imaginable: How to See the Future Coming and Feel Ready for Anything, Even Things that Seem Impossible Today


Jane is joined by co-hosts and special guests from across IFTF and our futures community, including a wide range of researchers, activists, artists, teachers, and creators.

At Institute for the Future (IFTF), we embrace the limitless, catalytic power of imagination to unleash potential. IFTF is a a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation. We believe that foresight is a human right. By joining Urgent Optimists, you're supporting our organization's work. Learn more at IFTF.org