Home |  Contact UsSitemap


Dr Laura Pereira

Futurist Profile


Dr Laura Pereira


Associate Professor: Global Change Institute Wits University, Stockholm Resilience Centre Stockholm University

Education: DPhil, Oxford

Laura answered a few questions about her perspective and on being a futures thinker.


You identify yourself as an African futures thinker or practitioner. How would you describe to the woman or man on the street what it is that you do in this regard?

Given the environmental crises that we’re currently facing as a planet, I use creative engagements with the future to help us think through the diverse kinds of future that we’d like to navigate towards, particularly from an African perspective. I also use different methods, like science fiction prototyping, to help to create capacities to think through transformative change and to steer away from linear projections of the future based on the past.

How many years have you worked as an African futures thinker / practitioner?

Five years

In which countries or places have you had working experience as an African futures thinker / practitioner?

South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Sweden, Brazil

In what languages have you undertaken futures / foresight related work or research?


What is it that motivates you to work or participate in the foresight / future studies / related field

Without having a story of the future that we can orient towards, or at least to recognise that we have very different concepts of what a more desirable future could look like, it is very difficult to define actions in the present. It’s to help us make better choices now that I think engaging with the future is critical.

What goal/s would you most like to reach with your work as an African futures thinker / practitioner?

To help people think more creatively about the future, to recognise that there are multiple futures that come from multiple pasts and to use these capacities to make more resilient choices in the present.

Who or what most influenced your thinking as a futures thinker / practitioner, and how?

Mentors like Tanja Hichert who first got me started with futures thinking, as well as a lifelong interest in fantasy and science fiction.

What is your main disciplinary background? (i.e. your primary training / qualification)

I have a very interdisciplinary background, with degrees in natural science (Ecology and Zoology) and social science (Geography).

How do other people describe you and how do you describe yourself?

Others describe me as… International woman of mystery
I describe myself as… Passionate with a good dose of crazy



What is one of your favourite quotes about the future?

“The future is here, it’s just unevenly distributed” - William Gibson

“Stories are powerful things, they create our reality as much as they explain it” - Alex Evans

“How do we awaken imagination? How do we awaken vision? One of the ways, passed down to us with cunning simplicity by our ancestors is storytelling ... when we listen to stories, our future takes clearer shape. ... The things the heart knows shine a greater light than the things the head knows” - Ben Okri

How would you describe the state of African futures thinking right now?

More potential to be exploited. More action needed.

What is, in your opinion, the main barrier to uptake of futures knowledge by African institutions and organisations?

A lack of understanding of the range of futures thinking and why it’s so important for decision-making. Maybe a bit of fear to engage with radically different ways of seeing the future that has impacts on decisions now.

If you were to give advice to someone who wants a career in African foresight / future studies, what would you say to him or her?

Find a mentor who can guide you through the field. Also, be mindful that facilitating participatory processes is not for everyone; so it’s important to unpack what aspect of futures studies you are interested in.

What are your recommended readings for every African futures thinker / practitioner?

The Namesake: Futures; futures studies; futurology; futuristic; foresight—What’s in a name? Ziauddin Sardar (2010)

Who fears death Nnedi Okorafor (2010)

Preferences and pathways: strengthening futures capacity in Africa Laura Pereira (2020)

Radical Ocean Futures Andrew Merrie et al (2018)

Using futures methods to create transformative spaces: visions of a good Anthropocene in southern Africa Laura Pereira et al (2018)

Anticipating climate futures in a 1.5 °C era: the link between foresight and governance Joost Vervoort and Aarti Gupta (2018)

What are your recommendations for other favourite futures resources: websites, newsfeeds, mailing lists, associations, etc.?



Share your Profile


Profile Archive


new-sampnode-logo rockefeller-logo-footer-new

Foresight For Development - Funding for this uniquely African foresight site was generously provided by Rockefeller Foundation. Email Us | Creative Commons Deed | Terms of Conditions