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August 25, 2020

Understanding Scotland

If we’re ever to make a positive difference in terms of improving a community’s well being we need to understand how the multiple indicators of wellbeing interact and impact on one another. Understanding Glasgow is based on the idea that there are twelve such indicators – each of which needs to be in good shape if the city as a whole is to be viable. These principles can be applied from the smallest family unit up to a whole country and even more widely. The indicators for Understanding Glasgow have been incorporated into a model for Understanding Scotland. A word of warning – it’s complicated. 

International Futures Forum

Understanding Scotland is a project of International Futures Forum inspired by the Glasgow Indicators Project ‘Understanding Glasgow’ with which we are also involved.

It takes as its basis the IFF World System Model – a framework of twelve nodes, each of which needs to be healthy to ensure the viability of the whole (see right). The framework operates at all levels of human community – the family, the village, the city, the nation, the world and so on.

The model can also act as a comprehensive scanning framework for the health of the system – in this case Scotland.

The database underpinning the site logs trends and possible discontinuities associated with each of the twelve nodes. A selection is now live: just click on a node to reveal a summary.

The database also records promising innovations in each domain that suggest a more viable and resilient future. The next phase of the project will make those visible too.

As the database builds over time it will also reveal information about the connections between nodes: most trends and innovative projects will have an impact on more than one node. As such it becomes both a diagnostic and a design tool for greater resilience.

The model is also the basis for the IFF World Game – in which a central issue is addressed in the context of the comprehensive framework provided by this kind of scanning. We have played a number of World Games about Scotland’s future. We hope that the Understanding Scotland project will become an open resource for more such activity… and we will be posting the results on this site.