Kuala Lumpur 2011 CLOUDS AND SUN

Strategic Foresight in Higher Education

Sponsored by IBN
March 22-23, 2011
JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur

James L. Morrison, Facilitator

Colleges and universities are being bombarded by tumultuous forces for change in the political, technological, social, economic, and environmental sectors, locally and globally. In order to plan effectively in this environment, institutional leaders must be able to anticipate the direction and implications of these forces in order to plan more effectively. In short, they must be able to use the tools of strategic foresight.


The objective of this workshop was to assist leaders in colleges and universities and in higher education ministries enhance their competency to systematically factor the external environment into their planning activities. Participants gained experience in:

  • identifying critical trends that define the context within which higher education will function in the coming decade;
  • identifying potential events that could affect higher education;
  • using strategic foresight tools to analyze and interpret potential events that could affect higher education;
  • exploring environmental scanning models and how they could be implemented and used by leaders in colleges and universities and in ministries of higher education to enhance strategic planning.


Participants were requested to review the following publications prior to this workshop:

Approaches to anticipating the future:


  1. Universiti Sains Malaysia (2007). Constructing Future Higher Education Scenarios.
  2. Morrison, J. L. (1996). "Anticipating the Future." On the Horizon, 4(3), 2-3.
  3. Morrison, J. L. (1997). "Transforming Educational Organizations" On the Horizon, 5(1), 2-3.
  4. Munck, R., and McConnel, G. (2010). University Strategic Planning and the Foresight/Futures Approach.
  5. The Lauder Global Business Insight Report 2011. On the Move: Adapting to a New Global Economy. PDF download.
  6. The Horizon Report (2011). The New Media Consortium and the Educause Learning Initiative. PDF download.
  7. The Horizon Report Wiki (2011). The New Media Consortium and the Educause Learning Initiative.
  8. Morrison, J. L. (1992). "Environmental Scanning.” In M. A. Whitely, J. D. Porter, and R. H. Fenske (Eds.), A Primer for New Institutional Researchers (pp. 86-99). Tallahassee, Florida: The Association for Institutional Research.
  9. Simpson, E. G., McGinty, D. L., and Morrison, J. L. Environmental Scanning at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education: A Progress Report. Continuing Higher Education Review, 1-20.


  1. Mack, T. "An Interview with a Futurist." Futures Research Quarterly, 2003, 19 (1), 61-69
  2. Morrison, J. L. US Higher Education in Transition. On the Horizon, 2003, 11(1), 6-10.
  3. Morrison, J. L. (2011). Higher Education in Transition. Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah Distinguished Speakers Series Lecture, Sunway University, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia.
  4. Morrison, J. L. & Wilson, I (1997). "Analyzing Environments and Developing Scenarios for Uncertain Times.” in M. W. Peterson, D. D. Dill, L. A. Mets, and Associates (eds.), Planning and Management for a Changing Environment. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
  5. Ashley, W. L. & Morrison, J. L. (1996). "Anticipatory Management Tools for the 21st Century.” Futures Research Quarterly, 12 (2), 35-49.
  6. Ashley, W. L. & Morrison, J. L. (1997). "Anticipatory Management Tools for Better Decision Making.The Futurist, 31(5), 47-50.
  7. Morrison, J. L., Renfro, W. L., and Boucher, W. (1984). Futures Research and the Strategic Planning Process. (1984). ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Research Report.
  8. Morrison, J. L. (2005). "Experiencing the Online Revolution." In G. Kearsley (ed.),Online learning: Personal Reflections on the Transformation of Education. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.
  9. Morrison, J. L., Sargison, A., and Francis, D. (1997). Using the Futures Program as a Tool for Transformation. In D. M. Norris and J. L. Morrison (eds.) Mobilizing for transformation: How campuses are preparing for the knowledge age. New Directions in Institutional Research Number 94 (pp. 19-30). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
  10. Ruth, S. R. (2010). "Can ICT Do More to Reduce Higher Ed Costs? A Return on Investment Perspective." International Journal of Technology in Teaching and Learning, 6(2), 103-115.
  11. Carter, D. (2011, March). Does Online Education Put Traditional Universities at 'Grave Risk'?eCampus News (PDF File).

Mailing List, Slides, and Snapshot Video of Workshop

All participants were enrolled on the workshop mailing list (kualalumpur@listserv.unc.edu). The mailing list allows participants to continue the discussion after the workshop.

Presentation slides are now available as is a snapshot video of the workshop as it was being conducted.


22 March 2011




Module 1: Anticipating and planning for the future

0945-1700 Module 2: The environmental scanning process
0945-1030 Critical trends exercise



1100-1200 Discussion/prioritization of critical trends
1200-1300 Lunch


Trend exercise group reports

1400-1700 Critical events exercise
1400-1500 Identification of critical events
1500-1515 Break
1515-1545 Discussion of critical events


Prioritize events


Identify the signals that the five most critical events could occur

1630-1700 Prepare group report of five most critical events and the signals that they could occur

23 March 2011

0900-0945 Group event reports/discussion


Module 3: Strategic foresight tools and techniques

0945-1030 Probability-impact chart




Probability-impact exercise group reports


impact networks


Prepare impact-network reports



1400-1445 Group reports/discussion
1445-1530 Module 4: Environmental scanning as a strategic operational and management planning tool
1530-1545 Break


Module 5: Establishing a comprehensive environmental scanning program for a university or for a ministry of higher education

1545-1610 Comprehensive environmental scanning models (e.g., The University of Georgia)
1610-1630 Problems/challenges to maintaining scanning programs


Scanning database tools (e.g., Zotero, EndNoteWeb, RefWorks)


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