David N. Bengston
1992 Folwell Ave
Contact David N. Bengston
My current research is in the transdisciplinary field of Futures Research (also called Strategic Foresight or simply Futures). Futures Research uses a wide range of methods and techniques to explore possible, plausible, and preferable futures. The goal is to develop foresight — insight into how and why the future could be different than today — to improve policy, planning, and decision making. Examples of Futures Research methods and my projects include:
Scenario Planning is the most widely known and used Futures Research method. Scenarios are stories that describe a range of plausible futures, connect the present to the future using cause and effect links, and illustrate key events, decisions, and consequences in the narrative. Scenarios are not predictions. Rather, they are intended to portray an array of plausible futures to help decision-makers prepare for change in the face of fundamental uncertainty by building adaptive capacity and resilience. I have developed scenarios with research collaborators for North American forest management, wildland fire management, and wood-based nanomaterials futures.
Horizon Scanning is a set of techniques for identifying, collecting, and exploring the meaning of emerging issues, trends, and other signals of change that may be relevant for an organization or an area of interest. The goal is to find indicators of change and create an early warning system to detect potential future opportunities and threats. The Forest Futures Horizon Scanning Project is an ongoing collaborative effort by the Strategic Foresight Group and the Foresight Graduate Program at the University of Houston to identify emerging signals of change relevant for forestry decision makers.
The Futures Wheel is a structured brainstorming process that uncovers possible direct and indirect, positive and negative consequences of any type of change, such as the emerging signals of change identified through horizon scanning. Planners, managers and policy makers can use the results to help proactively consider longer-term and surprising effects of change to better prepare for it. I have facilitated many futures wheel exercises with diverse stakeholders, including explorations of the possible future impacts of abrupt climate change and the lack of age-class diversity in US Northern forests.
Serious Games have been used in diverse fields for many purposes in recent years, including engaging communities, informing planning, educating participants, and solving real-world problems. An important rationale for the use of gaming methods in Futures Research is that active learning methods are often most effective, and gaming approaches have been found to be effective ways to get participants to “pre-experience” alternative futures and gain understanding about preferred futures. Strategic Foresight Group scientists created the foresight game “IMPACT: Forestry Edition” to help players see the intricate, intertwined impacts of change across society on forests and the goods and services they provide.
Why This Research is Important
Futures Research can provide a number of important contributions to planning, management, and policy in forestry, including:
Creating a longer-term perspective: The temporal scales considered in futures research are beyond the range usually used in planning and decision making. This longer-term perspective may help identify issues of concern as well as opportunities that could be overlooked in the prevailing shorter-term view.
Exploring key uncertainties and potential surprises: Futures Research can help identify fundamental uncertainties and potential surprises, especially those arising from other domains that could affect forest management, thereby facilitating the development of policies to increase adaptive capacity to deal with surprises.
Decreasing reaction time to rapid change: Insights about possible and plausible futures can help decrease reaction time as events rapidly unfold. Decision makers can explore possible responses in advance and react swiftly to change as it occurs. A classic business example is Royal Dutch Shell’s use of scenario planning and its subsequent quick response to the 1973-1974 OPEC oil embargo and price shock.
Anticipating unintended consequences: The methods of Futures Research can help identify potential unintended consequences of new technologies, proposed policies, and social and cultural trends. A better understanding of potential consequences of change can help in the design of strategies that will minimize negative consequences and enhance resilience.
Encouraging thinking big: Futures Research promotes thinking big in terms of multiple disciplinary perspectives, creative problem-solving, and a systems perspective, and can help all stakeholders take a broader and more creative view.
Shaping a preferred future: A preferred future or vision is a compelling statement of the future that a group or organization wants to create based on shared deep values and purpose. A clear, shared understanding of the preferred future enhances options and possibilities in the present.
- University of Minnesota, Ph.D. Forest Economics 1986
- University of Minnesota, M.S. Agricultural and Applied Economics 1983
- University of Minnesota, B.S. Future Studies 1980
- North American Forestry Commission, Coordinator, Foresight / Resilience Working Group (2014 - Current)
- International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO), Coordinator, Unit 6.11.05, Ecological Economics in Forestry (2005 - 2010)
Awards & Recognition
- Engaging Urban America Award, Northern Research Station, 2011
Research to develop culturally appropriate approaches to conservation education with non-Forest Service partners Michele Schermann, Foung Heu, May Lee-Yang, and MaiKia Moua.
- Multicultural Achievement Award, Northern Research Station, 2011
Recognized for efforts in educating and connecting ethnic minority communities with nature and nature based activities.
- Chief’s Honor Award, USDA Forest Service, 2009
Recognized for research with the Hmong American community, “Listening to Neglected Voices: Hmong Americans and Public Lands in Minnesota and Wisconsin.”
- Excellence in Science and Technology Award, Northern Research Station, 2009
Development of methods to monitor the social environment for forestry planning, management, and policy.
- Bengston, David N.; Westphal, Lynne M.; Dockry, Michael J. 2020. Back from the Future: The Backcasting Wheel for Mapping a Pathway to a Preferred Future.
- Bengston, David N.; Zimmerman, Nicole ; Callaway, Kurt . 2019. Connecting the Dots in the Forest Futures Horizon Scanning Database: An Initial Analysis.
- DeVaney, Leif A.; Bengston, David N.; Dockry, Michael J.; Hines, Andy . 2019. Exploration of a Horizon Scanning Trend: Growing Indigenous Empowerment.
- Cowart, Adam ; Hines, Andy ; Callaway, Kurt ; Bengston, David N.; Dockry, Michael J. 2019. Forest Futures: A Guide for Scanners.
- Bengston, David N. 2019. Futures Research Methods and Applications in Natural Resources.
- Callaway, Kurt ; Hines, Andy ; Bengston, David N. 2019. Identifying Current USDA Forest Service Issues to Provide Context for Horizon Scanning.
- Bengston, David N. 2019. Introduction: The Forest Futures Horizon Scanning Project.
- Bengston, David N. 2019. Scanning the horizon for the future of Arboriculture.
- Hines, Andy ; Schutte, Johann ; Romero, Maria ; Bengston, David N. 2019. Scenarios to Provide Context for Horizon Scanning: Backcasting North American Forest Futures from 2090 to 2035.
- Hines, Andy ; Bengston, David N.; Dockry, Michael J.; Cowart, Adam . 2019. Setting Up the Forest Futures Horizon Scanning System.
- Hines, Andy ; Bengston, David N.; Dockry, Michael J., comps. 2019. The Forest Futures Horizon Scanning project.
- Bengston, David N.; DeVaney, Leif A.; Dockry, Michael J.; Hines, Andy ; Kubik, George H.; Roe, Bo ; Romero, Maria . 2019. Using the Implications Wheel in Horizon Scanning: Exploring Implications of Growing Apathy Toward the Environment.
- Bengston, David N.; Dockry, Michael J.; Shifley, Stephen R. 2018. Anticipating cascading change in land use: Exploring the implications of a major trend in US northern forests.
- Asah, Stanley T.; Bengston, David N.; Westphal, Lynne M.; Gowan, Catherine H. 2018. Mechanisms of children's exposure to nature: Predicting adulthood environmental citizenship and commitment to nature-based activities.
- Bengston, David N.; Peck, Jonathan; Olson, Robert; Barros, Melissa; Birdsey, Richard A.; Williams, Daniel R.; Leyva Reyes, Juan Carlos; José Zamudio, Francisco. 2018. North American Forest Futures 2018-2090: Scenarios for Building a More Resilient Forest Sector.
- Bengston, David N. 2018. Principles for Thinking about the Future and Foresight Education.
- Hines, Andy ; Bengston, David N.; Dockry, Michael J.; Cowart, Adam . 2018. Setting Up a Horizon Scanning System: A U.S. Federal Agency Example.
- Bengston, David N.; Dockry, Mike; Shifley, Stephen R. 2017. Anticipating cascading change in forests: Seeking a deeper understanding of the future.
- Bengston, David N. 2017. Ten principles for thinking about the future: a primer for environmental professionals.
- Bengston, David N.; Schermann, Michele. 2016. A case study of culturally appropriate conservation education.
- Bengston, David N.; Dator, J.; Dockry, Mike; Yee, A. 2016. Alternative Futures for Forest-Based Nanomaterials: An Application of the Manoa Schools Alternative Futures Method.
- Olson, Robert L.; Bengston, David N. 2015. A world on fire.
- Bengston, David N.; Olson, Robert L. 2015. Asynchronous online foresight panels: the case of wildfire management.
- Bengston, D.N. 2015. The Futures Wheel: A method for exploring the implications of social-ecological change.
- Olson, Robert L.; Bengston, David N.; DeVaney, Leif A.; Thompson, Trevor A.C. 2015. Wildland fire management futures: insights from a foresight panel.
- Bengston, David; Dockry, Michael J. 2014. Forest futures in the Anthropocene: Can trees and humans survive together.
- Bengston, David N. 2013. Horizon scanning for environmental foresight: a review of issues and approaches.
- Bengston, David N.; Schermann, Michele A.; Hawj, Foung; Moua, MaiKia. 2012. Culturally appropriate environmental education: an example of a partnership with the Hmong American community.
- Asah, Stanley T.; Bengston, David N.; Wendt, Keith; Nelson, Kristen C. 2012. Diagnostic reframing of intractable environmental problems: Case of a contested multiparty public land-use conflict.
- Bengston, David N., comp. 2012. Environmental futures research: experiences, approaches, and opportunities.
- Bengston, David N. 2012. Foreword.
- Bengston, David N. 2012. Futures research: A neglected dimension in environmental policy and planning.
- Asah, Stanley T.; Bengston, David N.; Wendt, Keith; DeVaney, Leif. 2012. Prognostic framing of stakeholders' subjectivities: A case of all-terrain vehicle management on state public lands.
- Bengston, David N.; Kubik, George H.; Bishop, Peter C. 2012. Strengthening environmental foresight: potential contributions of futures research.
- Bengston, David N.; Olson, Robert L.; DeVaney, Leif A. 2012. The Future of wildland fire management in a world of rapid change and great uncertainty: Overview of a futures research project.
- Bengston, David N.; Asah, Stanley T.; Butler, Brett J. 2011. The diverse values and motivations of family forest owners in the United States: An analysis of an open-ended question in the National Woodland Owner Survey.
- Bengston, David N.; Fan, David P.; Kaye, Roger. 2010. The national public's values and interests related to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: A computer content analysis.
- Bengston, David N.; Fan, David P.; Reed, Patrick; Goldhor-Wilcock, Ashley. 2009. Rapid issue tracking: A method for taking the pulse of the public discussion of environmental policy.
- Bengston, David N.; Butler, Brett J.; Asah, Stanley T. 2009. Values and motivations of private forest owners in the United States: a framework based on open-ended responses in the national woodland owner survey.
- Webb, Trevor J.; Bengston, David N.; Fan, David P. 2008. Forest value orientations in Australia: an application of computer content analysis.
- Bengston, David N.; Schermann, Michele A.; Moua, MiaKia; Lee, Tou Thai. 2008. Hmong Americans and public lands in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
- Bengston, David N.; Schermann, Michele. 2008. Hmong Americans: Issues and strategies related to outdoor recreation.
- Bengston, David N.; Schermann, Michele A.; Moua, Maikia; Lee, Tou Thai. 2008. Listening to neglected voices: Hmong Americans and public lands in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
- Johnson, Jayne Fingerman; Bengston, David N.; Fan, David P. 2006. Defensible space in the news: public discussion of a neglected topic.
- Johnson, Jayne Fingerman; Bengston, David N.; Fan, David P.; Nelson, Kristen C. 2006. U.S. Policy Response to the Fuels Management Problem: An Analysis of the Public Debate About the Healthy Forests Initiative and the Healthy Forests Restoration Act.
- Bengston, David N.; Youn, Yeo-Chang. 2006. Urban containment policies and the protection of natural areas: the case of Seoul's greenbelt.
- Bengston, David N.; Potts, Robert S.; Fan, David P.; Goetz, Edward G. . 2005. An analysis of the public discourse about urban sprawl in the United States: Monitoring concern about a major threat to forests.
- Slavicek, James; Elkinton, Joseph; Podgwaite, John. 2005. Control of the Browntail Moth in Maine with a Baculovirus.
- Bengston, David N., tech. ed. 2005. Policies for managing urban growth and landscape change: a key to conservation in the 21st century.
- Bengston, David N.; Yeo-Chang, Youn. 2005. Seoul's greenbelt: an experiment in urban containment.
- Fan, David P.; Bengston, David N.; Potts, Robert S.; Goetz, Edward G. 2005. The rise and fall of concern about urban sprawl in the United States: an updated analysis.
- Bengston, David N.; Sanchez, Jose J. 2004. Hispanic American views on the stewardship of federal land management agencies: An exploratory analysis of the Ethnic NewsWatch Database.
- Bengston, David N.; Sanchez, Jose J. 2004. Hispanic American views on the stewardship of federal land management agencies: an exploratory analysis of the Ethnic NewsWatch database.
- Bengston, David N. 2004. Listening to Neglected Voices - American Indian Perspectives on Natural Resource Management.
- Bengston, David N.; Webb, Trevor J.; Fan, David P. 2004. Shifting forest value orientations in the United States, 1980-2001: A computer content analysis.
- Potts, Robert; Gustafson, Eric; Stewart, Susan I.; Thompson, Frank R.; Bergen, Kathleen; Brown, Daniel G.; Hammer, Roger; Radeloff, Volker; Bengston, David; Sauer, John; Sturtevant, Brian. 2004. The Changing Midwest Assessment: land cover, natural resources, and people.
- Gobster, Paul H.; Stewart, Susan I.; Bengston, David N. 2004. The social aspects of landscape change: protecting open space under the pressure of development.
- Bengston, David N.; Fletcher, Jennifer O. . 2003. Public policies for managing urban growth and protecting open space: policy instruments and lessons learned in the United States.
- Bengston, David N.; Iverson, David C. 2003. Reconstructing Conservation in an Age of Limits: An Ecological Economics Perspective.
- Bengston, David N.; Fan, David P. 2002. The Recreational Fee Demonstration Program on the national forests: and updated analysis of public attitudes and beliefs, 1996-2001..
- Bengston, David N.; Xu, George; Fan, David P. 2001. Attitudes toward ecosystem management in the United States, 1992-1998.
- Bengston, David N. 2000. Applications of computer-aided text analysis in natural resources..
- Bengston , David N. 2000. Environmental Values related to fish and wildlife lands.
- Allen, Steward D.; Bengston, David N.; Fan, David P. 2000. Exploring the national benefits of Alaska's tongass national forest.
- Cuff, Jennifer A.; Bengston, David N.; McTavish, Donald G. 2000. In search of common ground among diverse forest stakeholders: A contextual content analysis of online text.
- Bengston, David N.; Fan, David P. 2000. The Public Debate about the Recreation Fee Demonstration Program on the U.S. Nation Forests1.
- Bengston, David N.; Fan, David P.; Celarier, D. N. 1999. A new approach to monitoring the social environment for natural resource management and policy: The case of US national forest benefits and values.
- Bengston, David N.; Fan, David P. 1999. An Innovative Method for Evaluating Strategic Goals in a Public Agency: Conservation Leadership in the U.S. Forest Service.
- Bengston, David N.; Fan, David P. 1999. Conflict over natural resource management a social indicator based on analysis of online news media text.
- Bengston, David N.; Fan, David P. 1999. Roads On The U.S. nation Forests: An Analysis of Public Attitudes, Beliefs, and Values Expressed in the News Media.
- Bengston, David N.; Fan, David P. 1999. The Public Debate about Roads on the National Forest: An Analysis of the News Media.
- Bengston, David N.; Fan, David P. 1999. The public debate about roads on the National Forests : an analysis of the new media : 1994-98.
- Bengston, David; Fan, David. 1997. Attitudes toward roads on the National Forests: An analysis of the News Media..
- Bengston, David N.; Fan, David P.; Celarier, Doris N. 1997. Monitoring the Social Environment for Forestry: The case of National Forest Benefits and Values.
- Fan, David; Bengston, David. 1997. Public Debates Shaping Forestry's Future: An Analysis..
- Xu, Zhi; Bengston, David N. 1997. Trends in national forest values among forestry professionals, environmentalists, and the news media, 1982-1993.
- Bengston, David N.; Xu, Zhi. 1996. Shifting and Expanding Forest Values: The Case of the U.S. National Forests.
- Bengston, David N.; Xu, Zhi. 1995. Changing National Forest Values: a content analysis..
- Bengston, David N. 1994. Changing Forest Values and Ecosystem Management.
- Bengston, David N. 1994. Reply from a Neighboring Village.
- Bengston, David N.; Xu, Zhi. 1993. Impact of Research and Technical Change in Wildland Recreation: Evaluation Issues and Approaches.
- Xu, Zhi; Bengston, David N.; Gregersen, Hans M.; Lundgren, Allen L. 1992. Regional impacts of technical change: the case of structural particleboard in the United States..
- Stier, Jeffery C.; Bengston, David N. 1992. Technical Change in the North American Forestry Sector: A Review.
- Gregersen, Hans M.; Lundgren, Allen L.; Jakes, Pamela J.; Bengston, David N. 1989. Identifying emerging issues in forestry as a tool for research planning..
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