The Forum

We believe scientists have a vitally important, informed contribution to make in ‘seeing’ how we can build a sustainable future.

Hence the New Optimists Forum where we’re generating scenarios for Birmingham in 2050, the first of the series (2012-13) on possible food futures for the city. The report on that project is here.

There are regular updates on our blog here, and  reports and analyses about what’s happening here. And here is a blogpost about why we’ve chosen food as our first topic.

Our sponsors
We’re delighted that the  City Council as well as Aston University, the University of Birmingham, Birmingham City University the University of Warwick are generously supporting the first series, as are private sector supporters Minor Weir & Willis, Cofely and Freeth Cartwright.


If your organisation would also like to support the Forum, please do get in touch.

How we’re doing what we do
The Forum is a series of facilitated events with scientists, plus a few others, ranging from intimate dinner gatherings to large ‘unconference’-style events, each with live social media reporting.

The conversations generated at these events are recorded (but not for public release) and analysed along with the social media generated, usually in two ways:

  • An analysis on content, carried out by Ellie Richards under the guidance of Warwick Business School
  • A computational linguistic analysis by Nicci MacLoed from the Centre for Forensic Linguistics at Aston University (not every conversation goes through this analysis).

These analyses are freely available here, plus in blogposts in our blog, and are used to create scenarios of possible futures.

And finally, here’s an interview here with Kate Cooper by Patrick Redmond about it all.


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