A Short History

of the

Future Scouts

Fall 2015:

Concept Genesis

Future Scouts was conceived by world builder Ishan Shapiro in fall 2015. It all started from the question, “What kinds of skills and literacies would be taught in a 21st century scouting organization?”

Ishan felt kids needed a place to explore their tectonically shifting existence. He wanted to establish a peer learning community where youth can talk about their future, learn from one another and have mentoring from instructors in a mixed-age learning environment. By providing knowledge, tools and creative experiences, Future Scouts helps youth develop visions for their preferred futures.

Inspired by friends who run Agile Learning Centers, an expanding network of micro schools supporting “self-directed” education, Ishan conceived the vision for Future Scouts, asked some friends to come aboard and made plans for the first summer session of Future Scouts in Los Angeles in 2016.

Summer 2016:

Launch of the Future Scouts

In Spring 2016 Ishan started reaching out to his collaborators and friends to put together the initial team of artists and educators for Future Scouts. The Future Scouts inaugural program was co-developed with Megan Daalder, a multimedia artist,  DeKoven Ashley, an urban innovator; Watson Hartsoe, a self-described story forager and cultural anthropologist; and Matthew Stoltz, a design consultant and coach, as well as contributions from scores of other modern thinkers across Los Angeles.

Run as a by-donation program for youth aged 12-17, Future Scouts was supported by friends, family and community partners including the Cliffs of Id, Oblong Industries, USC World Building Media Lab, Navel LA, Hexlab Makerspace and Two Bit Circus.


Program & Network Development

As the Future Scouts world started being built out in collaboration with the youth as well as the facilitators of the program, we developed a variety of formats to our workshops and programs, and worked with all ages of youth.

This is an incomplete list of various workshops that Future Scouts ran on a continuous basis from 2017 through 2019.

Spring 2017:

21st Century Survival Skills

UTS MBA Program, Sydney, AU

In collaboration with Ele Jansen, we ran a multi-day workshop at the University of Technology Sydney for their MBA in Entrepreneurship. We focused this program on helping entrepreneurs gain insight and clarity into their skill gaps, creative competencies and personal values.

We also designed and prototyped a board game called POLYPOLY to help learners tell stories about their preferred economic futures. Polypoly has now been used in workshops and events in Europe, the US and Latin America.

Summer 2017:

Spaceship Earth 2037 Summer Programs

Los Angeles & Portland

We ran our signature summer programs in Los Angeles and Portland in 2017, this time on the theme of Buckminster Fuller’s Spaceship Earth. Future Scouts were engaged in a collaborative world building process, which resulted in a Future Worlds Faire where scouts showcased inventions from their preferred futures.

Partners included Cliffs of Id, Two Bit Circus, Oblong Industries, Oregon Storyboard, Circuit, Youth, Village Lab, and more.

Spring 2018:

Spaceship Earth Workshop Tour

Madrid, Zaragoza & Barcelona, Spain

Working with Parlon Productions in the UK, we designed a workshop tour of Spain serving learners aged 7-18 years old. In it, the youth created prototypes that address local and global concerns.

Running workshops in schools across Madrid, Zaragosa and Barcelona, Spain, we operating in a mixture of English + Spanish in helping youth prototype their preferred futures.

Summer 2019:

Spaceship Earth Summer Program

Anchorage, Alaska

We were sponsored by the Cook Inlet Tribal Council to run a staff training and Future Scouts Spaceship Earth summer program for Alaska Native youth in Anchorage, Alaska.

Field trips included Alaska Hydroponics, the Anchorage Escape Room, Alaska Rock Gym, and the 2019 CITC Maker Faire.


Development of Future Scouts 2.0

When COVID cancelled the in-person programs that we had planned for summer 2020 in Los Angeles, Portland and Toronto, we took it as an opportunity to reflect on our learnings from five years of running programs. There were a lot of ideas on the shelf that we had never had time to develop further.

In the last two years, we’ve written the Handbook of 21st Century Survival Skills, the pedagogical backbone to the Future Scouts. It will be accessible via our Future Scouts app, available soon in the Apple Store and Google Play app stores.

In 2022, we are launching our beta global membership to learners of all ages, as well as MERIT, our currency of self-directed learning. Stay tuned and join our Discord to find out more.

We are also developing a native currency for self-directed learning, MERIT, launching in mid 2022.