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Cynthia Selin

Assoc Professor
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 5603
Assoc Professor
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 5603
Senior Global Futures Scholar
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 5603
Assoc Professor
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 5603
Assoc Professor
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 5603

Cynthia Selin’s work explores how the future serves as a conceptual and concrete resource to make sense of the uncertainty, ambiguity and complexity of socio-technical change. The future is an important phenomenon in contemporary society and how the future is imagined, represented, produced, and consumed matters for good decision-making and good governance in the present.  While the future is constantly evoked in relation to technological innovation, the meaning and import of futuring is seldom examined. By combining qualitative social science research with cutting edge experimental practice, Professor Selin’s research advances scholarly understanding of anticipation in society and invents new approaches to cultivating foresight to nurture greater reflexivity in systems of innovation.

She is an associate professor at Arizona State University in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and the School of Sustainability; a senior scholar in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at ASU; and an associate fellow at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, U.K., where she teaches in the Oxford Scenarios Programme.

  • Ph.D. Knowledge and Management, Institute for Politics, Philosophy and Management, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark 2006. Dissertation: Volatile Visions: Transactions in Anticipatory Knowledge
  • M.A. Science and Technology Studies, Roskilde University, Denmark and Maastricht University, Netherlands 2000. Thesis: Professional Dreamers: The Art and Science of Scenario Planning
  • B.A. American Studies, University of California-Santa Cruz 1996. Honours thesis: The Promise and Peril of Nanotechnology


Research Interests: 

Areas of expertise: Scenario and foresight methodologies; ethics and new technologies; temporality; anticipatory governance; organizational learning; innovation; public deliberation; climate change adaptation.




Wetmore J, E Fisher, and C Selin. (Eds.) 2008. Presenting Futures: Yearbook of Nanotechnology in Society. New York, NY: Springer. 23 chapters.

Selin C. 2006. Volatile Visions: Transactions in Anticipatory Knowledge. Copenhagen, Denmark: Samfundslitteratur.


Peer-Reviewed Articles


Hannah D and C Selin. 2016.“Unseasonal Fashion: A Manifesto.” The Avery Review: Critical Essays on Architecture. [online April 7]

Selin C, KC Rawlings, K de Ridder-Vignone, J Sadowski*, C Altamirano Allende*, G Gano, S Davies, D Guston. 2016. “Experiments in Engagement: Designing PEST for Capacity Building.” Public Understanding of Science, published online January 14, 2016.

Selin C, L Kimbell, R Ramirez, & Y Bhatti. 2015. "Scenarios and Design: Scoping the Dialogue Space." Futures, 74: 4-17. #C=1

Selin C. 2015.“Merging art and design in foresight: Making sense of Emerge.” Futures, 70: 24-35. #C=7

Davies SR, C Selin, S Rodegher*, C A Allende*, M Burnam-Fink*, C DiVittorio**, C Glerup*, C Keys*, M Kimball*, M Liao*, C Monfreda*, B Trinidad*. 2015. “Studying Emerge: Findings from an Event Ethnography.” Futures, 70: 75-85. #C=2

Altamirano-Allende C* & C Selin. 2015. "Seeing the city: photography as a place of work." Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, 1-10. #C=1

Selin, C. 2014. “On Not Forgetting Futures.” Journal for Responsible Innovation, 1(1): 103-108. #C=2

Ramírez R and C Selin. 2014. “Plausibility and probability in scenario planning.” foresight, 16(1): 54 – 74. #C=22

Selin C & AG Pereira. 2013. “Pursuing Plausibility.” International Journal of Foresight and Innovation Policy, 9(2/3/4): 93-109. #C=3

Wiek A, D Guston, S van der Leeuw, C Selin & P Shapira. 2013. “The Nano-Enhanced City: Sustainability Challenges and Anticipatory Governance.” Journal of Urban Technology, 20(2): 45-62. #C=13

Davies SR, C Selin, G Gano*, AG Pereira. 2013. “Finding Futures: A Spatio-Visual Experiment in Participatory Engagement.” Leonardo: The International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology, 46(1): 76-77. #C=5

Davies SR, C Selin, G Gano*, A. G. Pereira. 2012. “Citizen Engagement and Urban Change: Three Case Studies of Material Deliberation.” Cities, 29(6): 351-357. #C=28

Davies SR & C Selin. 2012. "Energy Futures: Five Dilemmas of the Practice of Anticipatory Governance.” Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture, 6(1): 119-136. #C=11

Selin C. 2011. “Negotiating Plausibility: Intervening in the Future of Nanotechnology.” Science and Engineering Ethics, 17(4): 723-737. #C=38

Selin C & P Boradkar. 2010. “Prototyping Nanotechnology: A Transdisciplinary Approach to Responsible Innovation.” Journal of Nano Education, 2(1-2): 1-12. #C=10

Selin C & R Hudson** 2010. “Envisioning Nanotechnology: New Media and Future-Oriented Stakeholder Dialogue.” Technology in Society, 32(3): 173-182. #C=18

Selin C. 2008. “Sociology of the Future: Tracing Stories of Technology and Time.” Sociology Compass, 2(60): 1875-1895. #C=37

Selin C. 2007. “Expectations and the Emergence of Nanotechnology.” Science, Technology and Human Values, 32(2): 196-220. #C=180

Selin C. 2006. “Time Matters: Temporal Harmony and Dissonance in Nanotechnology Networks.” Time & Society, 15(1): 121-139. #C=36

Selin C.  2006. “Trust and the Illusive Force of Scenarios.” Futures 38(1): 1-14. #C=72


Peer-Reviewed Book Chapters


Konrad K, H van Lente, C Groves, and C Selin. [in press] “The Future in STS: Performativity & Temporality.” In Miller C, Smith-Doerr, U Felt & R Fouche (Eds.) The Handbook for Science and Technology Studies. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Selin C & J Sadowski*. 2015. “Against Blank Slate Futuring: Noticing Obduracy in the City through Experiential Methods of Public Engagement.” in Kearnes, M & J Chilvers (Eds). Remaking Participation: Science, Environment and Emerging Publics. Abingdon: Routledge: 218-237.

Selin C & G Gano*. 2015. “Seeing Differently: Enticing Reflexivity through Mediated Participation in Place in the Futurescape City Tours.” in Gubrium, A and K Harper (Eds). Engaging Participatory Visual and Digital Methods. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press: 87-100.

Selin C. 2011. “Travails, Travels, and Trials:  Report from the SNET Roundtable on Plausibility.”  In Zülsdorf et al (Eds.)  Quantum Engagements: Social Reflections of Nanoscience and Emerging Technologies. Heidelberg: AKA GmbH.

Selin C.  2007. “Professional Dreamers: The Past in the Future of Scenario Planning.” In Sharpe B & K van der Heijden (Eds). Scenarios for Success: Turning Insight into Action. London: Wiley.


Book Chapters


Barben D, E Fisher, C Selin, & D Guston. 2008. “Anticipating Nanotechnology: Governance, Engagement, and Reflexivity.” In Hackett, EJ, Amsterdamska, O, Lynch, M & J Wajcman (Eds.). The New Handbook of Science and Technology Studies, Third Edition. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. #C=289

Selin C.  2003. “The Art and Science of Scenario Planning.” Danish Anthology on Research Management. Aarhus, DK: Danish Institute for Studies in Research and Research Policy: 126-134

Research Activity: 
Fall 2021
Course NumberCourse Title
SOS 790Reading and Conference
SOS 792Research
Fall 2020
Course NumberCourse Title
SOS 790Reading and Conference
SOS 792Research
Spring 2020
Course NumberCourse Title
PAF 591Seminar
HSD 598Special Topics
Fall 2019
Course NumberCourse Title
SOS 311Future Thinking and Strategies
SOS 790Reading and Conference
SOS 792Research
Spring 2019
Course NumberCourse Title
FIS 201Innovation in Society
Spring 2018
Course NumberCourse Title
FIS 201Innovation in Society
Fall 2017
Course NumberCourse Title
SOS 311Future Thinking and Strategies

ASU Courses

Futures Thinking and Strategy (SOS 311). School of Sustainability, ASU. Selin developed this new course in Spring ’13 and in ‘14, Selin created an online offering. As of Spring ’15, this now core SOS course is offered year-round, both online and on campus.

Winter School on the Anticipatory Governance and Responsible Innovation of
Emerging Technologies. Center for Nanotechnology in Society, ASU. January 2012- 2016

Sustainable Futures Studio (SOS 594). School of Sustainability, ASU. This problem-based learning studio course engaged graduate students in designing and piloting an innovative public engagement protocol. Fall 2012

After Emerge Studio (AME 499/592). Arts, Media & Engineering, ASU. This studio worked to analyse ethnographic and documentary data from a large-scale research project into a gallery exhibition. Spring 2012

Foresight Methodologies (SOS 494). School of Sustainability, ASU. New course developed by Selin. Spring 2012

Future Scenarios, Anticipatory Governance, and Sustainability – Urban Development in Phoenix (SOS 594). School of Sustainability, ASU. Co-taught with A. Wiek, this new award winning, ~25 graduate student, problem-based learning course used the City of Phoenix as a live case for developing and testing a framework for sustainability transitions. Spring 2010

InnovationSpace. The Design School, ASU. Selin served as the CNS Liaison for P. Boradkar led course that engaged business, engineering, and design students in new product design. 2007-2013

Justice and the Future (JUS 394). Justice and Social Inquiry, ASU. New course developed by Selin. Spring 2007


International Teaching

Oxford Scenarios Programme. Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, England. 2013- present

Strategic Foresight in Engineering. Department of Management Engineering. Technical University of Denmark. August 2015


Museum Exhibitions and Gallery Shows

Futurescape City Tours (2015) Project Exhibition, Making and Doing, Society for the Social Studies of Science. Denver, CO. Nov. 11-14.

Future Things (2014) Curated Exhibition, Oxford Futures Forum. University of Oxford. May 30-31.

Futurescape (2012) Public Gallery. First Friday, Phoenix, AZ. December 7.

Emerge: Redesigning the Future (2012) Gallery Exhibition, ASU Art Museum, April 10 - August 25, 2012.