What word do you use to describe yourself? I’m involved in so many things that look to future sustainability, but there is no descriptor such as sustainabologist or sustainologist in common use in the English language – Jack Harich’s page linked above is a notable exception. I’ve been thinking that perhaps the term futurist is a better word to describe those of us that are involved in the future of more than just the discrete realms of planning, engineering, sociology, economics to approach the problems of global and individual sustainability, not just looking for solutions to discreet problems but at the holistic basis for continuing life on earth.
Today the term futurist most commonly describes authors, consultants, organizational leaders and others who engage in interdisciplinary and systems thinking to advise private and public organizations on such matters as diverse global trends, plausible scenarios, emerging market opportunities, and risk management.More generally, the label includes such disparate lay, professional, and academic groups as visionaries, foresight consultants, corporate strategists, policy analysts, cultural critics, planners, marketers, forecasters, prediction market developers, roadmappers, operations researchers, investment managers, actuaries and other risk analyzers, and future-oriented individuals educated in every academic discipline, including anthropology, complexity studies, computer science, economics, engineering, evolutionary biology, history, management, mathematics, philosophy, physical sciences, political science, psychology, sociology, systems theory, technology studies, and other disciplines.
Why am I looking for a word? Because many of the current words that I (or others) use to describe myself and what I do are limited to very traditional roles. Here are some of them:
I’m primarily an engineer, manager, and designer. Even under these I have varied areas of expertise – that’s why I work as a City Engineer – I know roads and transportation, stormwater, water and sewer conveyance and treatment, infrastructure and land development and construction. I’m also an environmentalist, blogger, author, speaker and publisher. But terms like analyst, critic, planner, philosopher, researcher, scientist, strategist, permaculturalist, gardener, almost a farmer, phototgrapher, risk manager, maven, and watchdog are not out of the realm of possible descriptions. I’m not claiming to be trained in all of these disciplines – however, using principles from all of these areas of expertise brings a worldview perspective that challenges conventional thinking.
I care about the future as a father and as someone who can advocate for change. At the risk of getting answers I don’t want to hear – how would you describe me? What one word would you use to describe yourself?