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Cynthia Selin

Cynthia Selin

Associate Professor, School of Sustainability, College of Global Futures


Center for Nanotechnology in Society
Arizona State University
PO Box 875603
Tempe, AZ 85287-5603


  • Senior Sustainability Scholar, Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation
  • Associate Professor, School of Sustainability, College of Global Futures
  • Associate Professor, School for the Future of Innovation in Society, College of Global Futures
  • Associate Professor, Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes


Cynthia Selin’s work explores how the future serves as a conceptual and concrete resource to make sense of the uncertainty, ambiguity and complexity of socio-technical change. The future is an important phenomenon in contemporary society and how the future is imagined, represented, produced, and consumed matters for good decision-making and good governance in the present. While the future is constantly evoked in relation to technological innovation, the meaning and import of futuring is seldom examined. By combining qualitative social science research with cutting edge experimental practice, Professor Selin’s research advances scholarly understanding of anticipation in society and invents new approaches to cultivating foresight to nurture greater reflexivity in systems of innovation.

She is an associate professor at Arizona State University in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and the School of Sustainability; a senior scholar in the Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation at ASU; and an associate fellow at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, U.K., where she teaches in the Oxford Scenarios Programme.


  • PhD, Knowledge and Management, Institute for Politics, Philosophy and Management, Copenhagen Business School, 2006
  • MA, Science and Technology Studies, Roskilde University/Maastricht University, 2000
  • BA, American Studies, University of California-Santa Cruz, 1996


External Links

Journal Articles


Selin, C., K. Campbell Rawlings, K. de Ridder-Vignone, J. Sadowski, C. Altamirano Allende, G. Gano, S. R. Davies and D. H. Guston. 2017. Experiments in engagement: Designing public engagement with science and technology for capacity building. Public Understanding of Science 26(6):634-649. DOI: 10.1177/0963662515620970. (link )


Altamirano Allende, C. and C. Selin. 2016. Seeing the city: Photography as a place of work. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences 6:460-469. DOI: 10.1007/s13412-015-0273-5. (link )


Davies, S. R., C. Selin, S. Rodegher, C. A. Allende, M. Burnam-Fink, C. DeVittorio, C. Glerup, C. Keys, M. Kimball, M. Liao, C. Monfreda and B. Trinidad. 2015. Studying Emerge: Findings from an event ethnography. Futures 70(Jun):75-85. DOI: 10.1016/j.futures.2014.05.003. (link )

Selin, C. 2015. Merging art and design in foresight: Making sense of Emerge. Futures 70(Jun):24-35. DOI: 10.1016/j.futures.2014.12.006. (link )

Selin, C., L. Kimbell, R. Ramirez and Y. Bhatti. 2015. Senarios and design: Scoping the dialogue space. Futures 74(Nov):4-17. DOI: 10.1016/j.futures.2015.06.002. (link )


Ramirez, R. and C. Selin. 2014. Plausibility and probability in scenario planning. Foresight 16(1):54-74. DOI: 10.1108/FS-08-2012-0061. (link )

Selin, C. 2014. On not forgetting futures. Journal of Responsible Innovation 1(1):103-108. DOI: 10.1080/23299460.2014.884378. (link )


Davies, S. R., C. Selin, G. Gano and A. Guimaraes Pereira. 2013. Finding futures: A spatio-visual experiment in participatory engagement. Leonardo 46(1):76-77. DOI: 10.1162/LEON_a_00489. (link )

Selin, C. and A. Guimaraes Pereira. 2013. Pursing plausibility. International Journal of Foresight and Innovation Policy 9(2/3/4):93-109. (link )

Wiek, A., D. Guston, S. van der Leeuw, C. Selin and P. Shapira. 2013. Nanotechnology in the city: Sustainability challenges and anticipatory governance. Journal of Urban Technology 20(2):45-62. DOI: 10.1080/10630732.2012.735415. (link )


Davies, S. R. and C. Selin. 2012. Energy futures: Five dilemmas of the practice of anticipatory governance. Environmental Communications 6(1):119-136. DOI: 10.1080/17524032.2011.644632. (link )

Davies, S. R., C. Selin, G. Gano and A. Guimaraes Pereira. 2012. Citizen engagement and urban change: Three case studies of material deliberation. Cities 29(6):351-357. DOI: 10.1016/j.cities.2011.11.012. (link )


Selin, C. 2011. Negotiating plausibility: Intervening in the future of nanotechnology. Science and Engineering Ethics 17:723-737. DOI: 10.1007/s11948-011-9315-x. (link )


Selin, C. and P. Boradkar. 2010. Prototyping nanotechnology: A transdisciplinary approach to responsible innovation. Journal of Nano Education 2(1-2):1-12. DOI: 10.1166/jne.2010.1002. (link )

Selin, C. and R. Hudson. 2010. Envisioning nanotechnology: New media and future-oriented stakeholder dialogue. Technology in Society 32(3):173-182. DOI: 10.1016/j.techsoc.2010.07.008. (link )


Selin, C. 2008. The sociology of the future: Tracing stories of technology and time. Sociology Compass 2(6):1878-1895. DOI: 10.1111/j.1751-9020.2008.00147.x. (link )


Selin, C. 2007. Expectations and the emergence of nanotechnology. Science, Technology, & Human Values 32(2):196-220. DOI: 10.1177/0162243906296918. (link )


Selin, C. 2006. Time matters: Temporal harmony and dissonance in nanotechnology networks. Time & Society 15(1):121-139. DOI: 0.1177/0961463X06061786. (link )

Selin, C. 2006. Trust and the illusive force of scenarios. Futures 38(1):1-14. DOI: 10.1016/j.futures.2005.04.001. (link )



Hannah, D., B. Cooper, J. Eschrich and C. Selin eds. 2019. A Year Without a Winter. Columbia University Press. ISBN: 9781941332382.


Fisher, E., C. Selin and J. M. Wetmore eds. 2008. The Yearbook of NanoTechnology in Society: Volume I: Preventing Futures. Springer Science + Business Media B.V. . ISBN: 978-1402084157.

Book Chapters


Selkirk, K., C. Selin and U. Felt. 2019. A festival of futures: Recognizing and reckoning temporal complexity in foressight. Pp. 1089-1110 In: Poli, R. ed., Handbook of Anticipation: Theoretical and Applied Aspects of the Use of Future in Decision Making. Springer, Cham. ISBN: 978-3-319-91553-1.

Withycombe Keeler, L., M. J. Bernstein and C. Selin. 2019. Intervening through futures for sustainable presents: Scenarios, sustainability, and responsible research and innovation. Pp. 255-282 In: Losch, A., A. Grunwald, M. Meister and I. Schulz-Schaeffer eds., Socio-Technical Futures Shaping the Present: Empirical Examples and Analytical Challenges in Social Studies of Science and Technology and Technology Assessment. Springer. ISBN: 978-3-658-27155-8.


Konrad, K., H. Van Lente, C. Groves and C. Selin. 2017. Performing and governing the future in science and technology. Pp. 465-494 In: Felt, U., R. Fouche, C. A. Miller and L. Smith-Doerr eds., The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies, Fourth Edition. MIT Press. ISBN: 9780262035682.


Hannah, D. and C. Selin. 2016. Unseasonal fashion: A manifesto. Pp. 222-232 In: Graham, J., C. Blanchfield, A. Anderson, J. Carver and J. Moore eds., Climates: Architecture and the Planetary Imaginary. Lars Muller Publishers. ISBN: 978-3-03778-494-5.


Selin, C. and G. Gano. 2015. Seeing differently: Enticing reflexivity through m ediated participation in place in the futurescape city tours. Pp. 87-100 In: Gubrium, A. and K. Harper eds., Engaging Participatory Visual and Digital Methods. Left Coast Press. Walnut Creek, CA.

Selin, C. and J. Sadowski. 2015. 11. Against blank slate futuring: Noticing obduracy in the city through experiential methods of public engagement. Pp. 218-237 In: Chilvers, J. and M. Kearnes eds., Remaking Participation: Science, Environment and Emergent Publics. Routledge. ISBN: 9780415857390.


Barben, D., E. Fisher, C. Selin and D. H. Guston. 2008. Anticipatory governance of nanotechnology: Foresight, engagement, and integration. Pp. 979-1000 In: Hackett, E. J., O. Amsterdamska, M. Lynch and J. Wajcman eds., The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies, 3rd Ed.. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Cambridge, MA. ISBN: 978-0262083645.


Selin, C. 2003. The art and science of scenario planning. Pp. 126-134 Danish Anthology in Research Management. Danish Institute for Studies in Research and Research Policy. Aarhus, DK.


Selin, C. 1997. Professional dreamers: The future in the past of scenario planning. Pp. 27-52 In: Sharpe, B. and K. van der Heijden eds., Scenarios for Success: Turning Insights into Action. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. ISBN: 978-0470512982.



Rodegher, S. and C. Selin. 2013. Scenario planning for sustainability: Enhancing participation through understanding social influence. Poster presented at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology 2013: Sustainability Psychology, 17 January 2013, New Orleans, LA. (link )



Rodegher, S. and C. Selin. 2015. Parity and participation: The role of social influence in scenario planning. Presentation at the Anticipation 2015, Project Anticipation: The UNESCO Chair in Anticipatory Systems, 5-7 November 2015, Trento, Italy. (link )


Rodegher, S. and C. Selin. 2014. Scenario planning for sustainability: Are diverse voices heard?. Presentation at the 16th Annual International Conference for the Society of Ethics Across the Curriculum, 2 October 2014, Scottsdale, AZ. (link )


Selin, C. and S. Rodegher. 2013. Persuasion and influence in scenario planning: Overcoming barriers to learning from the future. Presentation at the Society for Psychologists in Management 2013 Conference– Enjoy a Look Ahead – Thriving in the Future, 22 February 2013, Scottsdale, AZ. (link )


Withycombe Keeler, L., A. Wiek, C. Selin, D. Lang and V. Schweizer. 2012. How to evaluate and construct plausibility in future scenarios?. A case study of value-based future scenarios of water in Phoenix, Arizona. Invited Presentation at the International Workshop on Ethics, Plausibility and Innovation, May 10-11, 2012, European Union Joint Research Centre, Ispra, Italy.