History of The Millennium Project

The Millennium Project was founded in 1996 after a three-year feasibility study with the United Nations University, Smithsonian Institution, Futures Group International, and the American Council for the UNU. It is now an independent non-profit global participatory futures research think tank of futurists, scholars, business planners, and policy makers who work for international organizations, governments, corporations, NGOs, and universities. The Millennium Project manages a coherent and cumulative process that collects and assesses judgments from over 2,500 people since the beginning of the project selected by its 40 Nodes around the world. The work is distilled in its annual “State of the Future”, “Futures Research Methodology” series, and special studies.

The Project was initiated by the Smithsonian Institution, The Futures Group International, and the United Nations University (UNU). It was created through a three-year feasibility study funded by the U.S. EPA, UNDP, and UNESCO, in which participated over 200 futurists and scholars from about 50 countries. Phase 1 of the feasibility study began in 1992 with funding from U.S. EPA to identify and link futurists and scholars around the world to create the initial design of the Project and conduct a first test on population and environmental issues. In 1993/94 during Phase II, a series of reports were created on futures research methodology and long-range issues important to Africa, funded by UNDP. Phase III, conducted in 1994/95 under the auspices of the UNU/WIDER and funded by UNESCO concluded with the final feasibility study report. Today, the Project accomplishes its mandate by connecting individuals and institutions around the world to collaborate on research to address important global challenges. Since 1996, about 2,500 futurists, scholars, decisionmakers, and business planners from over 50 countries contributed with their views to the Millennium Project research.

The project is not a one-time study of the future, but provides an on-going capacity as a geographically and institutionally dispersed think tank. It was selected among the 100 Best Practices by UN Habitat, among best 7 foresight organizations by US Office of Energy, eleven of the thirteen annual State of the Future reports were selected by Future Survey as among the year’s best books on the future, and the international journal Technological Forecasting & Social Change dedicates several entire issues to the annual State of the Future.

The Millennium Project’s primary products include:

On-going assessment of what are the most significant long-range issues and opportunities, as well as focused analysis of policies and agencies to address them;

Communications network of futurists and scholars with an international information system of futures research that provides public access;
The annual State of the Futurereport (based on an integration of others’ forecasts and the Project’s own work, and built on the foundation of the previous years’ reports);

Special studies such as Future Issues of Science and Technology, Futures Research Methodology, Middle-East Peace Scenarios, Environmental Security, Education and Learning to the year 2030, Future Global Ethical Issues, Lessons and Questions from History, Advanced training in the methodology and analysis of critical issues, opportunities, and 15 global challenges of the future. More

Also check out the history of the 15 Global Challenges