The ‘Scenario Exploration System’ (SES) is an award winning future simulation tool developed by the JRC together with experts in serious games from the Hawaii Research Center for Futures Studies. It uses engagement techniques from the entertainment world to engage participants in the full richness of the systemic collective reflection created when building scenarios.

What the SES provides

The SES provides a platform that engages participants in future-oriented systemic thinking. It makes participants take action to reach their long-term objectives in contrasting scenario-related contexts while interacting with other stakeholders. By creating a realistic journey towards the future, the SES is generating a safe space to simulate possible responses connected to any issue of interest to the participants. This engagement platform helps people imagine what the scenarios of interest could mean for themselves and can be used for strategic development, preparedness, etc. The content of each session is recorded for possible use in later debriefing.

How the SES works

The SES engages 5 participants to build a role for themselves and create unique stories while exploring possible futures. The participants must take action across three time horizons to reach their long-term objectives as a policy maker, a business, or a civil society organisation while the public voice observes and assesses future impacts according to its interests. One session lasts a maximum of three hours.

A growing number of editions

The first edition of the SES (the “Sustainable Transitions” edition) used content developed during the JRC foresight study ‘2035: Paths towards a Sustainable EU Economy’, which paints four future scenarios using societal values (from individualistic to collaborative) and fiscal framework (from traditional to highly supporting sustainability) as key drivers. It was quickly followed by the “Food Safety and Nutrition Challenges” edition, developed upon request from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety on the basis of scenarios developed for the JRC foresight study “Delivering on EU food safety and nutrition in 2050 – Future challenges and policy preparedness“. This edition was used to “future proof” EU food safety and nutrition policy as described in this peer reviewed publication.

Since then, several more editions have been produced and more are in the pipeline

Facts and figures

SES development was completed in March 2015. By the end of 2017, more than 100 sessions had been held, involving more than 500 participants of very diverse ages (13-67), professional profiles and backgrounds. Today, a growing number of users around the world apply the SES to their questions of interest.

Extensive surveys have shown that participants rate the “fun” value to 7-8/10 and 80% agree that the SES helped them take a future-oriented strategic perspective in a complex and realistic environment. The positive ratings increase when the SES is applied through tailor made sessions to address specific needs.

How to access the SES

The SES is available to any interested party under a Creative Commons licence (CC-BY-SA) that lets people use it and transform it as long as the source is acknowledged. To obtain a printable version of the SES, please contact us at

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