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 4,500 people since the beginning of the project selected by its 72 Nodes around the world. The work is distilled into its State of the Future reports, Futures Research Methodology version 3.0 series, and 65 futures research 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/African Future. Phase III, conducted in 1994/95 under the auspices of the UNU/World Institute of Development Research in Helsinki, Finland and funded by UNESCO concluded with the final feasibility* study report. Today, The Millennium Project accomplishes its mandate by connecting individuals and institutions around the world to collaborate on research to address important global challenges. Since 1996,  over 4,500 futurists, scholars, decisionmakers, and business planners from over 75 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 top think tanks by the University of Pennsylvania’s Go-To Think Tank Index for new ideas and paradigm and for quality control, it was selected by Computerworld as an Honors Laureate for its contributions to collective intelligence systems, the UN Habitat listed it among the 100 Best Practices, and the US Office of Energy selected it among the best 7 foresight organizations in the world. 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 dedicated several entire issues to the annual State of the Future.

Also check out the history the 15 Global Challenges

*References for the feasibility study

  • Glenn, Jerome Clayton, Gordon, Theodore Jay (1995): The Millennium Project Feasibility Study. UNU World Institute of Development Economics Research, Helsinki.
  • Glenn, Jerome Clayton, Gordon, Theodore Jay (1996). Update on the… Millennium Project. Technological Forecasting and Social Change 52. Pp. 269-272 (1996).
  • Gordon, Theodore Jay, Glenn, Jerome Clayton (1994): An introduction to The Millennium Project. Technological Forecasting and social change(47). Pp. 147-179.