The interest in the future and attempts to predict what is going to happen can be historically traced back to the Oracle of Delphi, via the Utopian socialists of the 19th century to the systematic futures studies of today. The first approaches to more systematic future studies were conducted by the American military during World War II. However, it was the dramatic political, social, and technological changes in the 1960s and 1970s that significantly increased interest in future studies. Specific institutes for futures studies were established in many countries during this period. One of them was the Swedish Secretariat for Futures Studies (predecessor to the Institute for Futures Studies) that was established in the early 1970s.
The Institute for Futures Studies has always emphasized the importance of scientific research and of close ties with universities and other research-intensive environments. To be able to say something about the future, we must be able to formulate with considerable clarity how the future-relevant processes are working and this requires us to be familiar with the latest developments in the social sciences.