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Letters from the future – unleashing the power of student creativity 

In a world marked by constant change and uncertainty, fostering creativity and a positive outlook for the future has never been more crucial. One useful way to ignite the imagination and stimulate critical thinking in students is to encourage them to write letters from the future.


Annika Konttinen

lehtori, matkailuliiketoiminta
Senior Lecturer, tourism business
Haaga-Helia ammattikorkeakoulu

Anu Seppänen

lehtori, markkinointi ja viestintä
Haaga-Helia ammattikorkeakoulu

Published : 03.10.2023

On our Futures thinking, trends and transformations course, students are encouraged to envision and craft a letter from the future. This assignment opens a gateway to their wildest dreams, empowers them to transcend the limitations of the present and explore new horizons, thus sparking their creativity in the process.

Unleashing Imagination

The course aims to help the students to understand the importance of future orientation, trend watching and scenario building for the success of businesses and individuals. During the course, students research new technologies, global events and big ideas that are shaping the future to discover new possibilities and opportunities for doing business. They also engage themselves in scenario planning in a chosen industry.

In the final assignment, their ideas, scenarios and transformation journeys fold out in a letter from the future. The letter starts with looking back at the situation twenty years ago. In the letter, students describe the challenges for their business and industry back then. After this, students are asked to imagine the situation where their business is, i.e. 20 years from now.

They explain what the world looks like, how the business environment has changed and what new trends the company has adopted. They look at how their customers are feeling about the innovative changes that the company have brought into business and how the customers are behaving. They describe the key steps to business transformation. Thus, explaining the projects and processes the company went through to get innovative things done, bumps in the developmental road and the next milestones.

Fostering Critical Thinking

In this creative writing exercise students get to put their imagination into full swing to picture their ideal world with nothing holding them back. However, after letting their imagination run wild, writing a letter from the future also requires students to think critically about the consequences of current actions and decisions. It prompts them to consider how today’s choices may impact on the world they envision tomorrow, thus, promoting responsible decision-making.

During the course, students are encouraged to paint the big picture of the world in relation to their chosen industry. They need to explain how the trends they have chosen to study have changed the industry and what kind of decisions have been taken during the journey from today to the time of writing the letter. In addition to learning creativity, the students learn to analyse situations, consider potential consequences, and to make informed decisions based on their goals and values.

Enhancing Problem-Solving Skills

Futures studies are about the possible, probable and preferable futures. Therefore, students must study the trends and scenarios of their industry to get an understanding of what may lie ahead for them. Imagining future scenarios often involves overcoming obstacles and challenges. As students compose their letters, they need to make decisions about which future developments to address and highlight. This helps them practice prioritisation and evaluation of options.

To create a compelling vision of the future, students often need to come up with innovative solutions to current problems. By addressing these issues in their letters, students learn resilience, that prepares them for the real world. This exercise encourages them to think outside the box, take a long-term perspective and explore imaginative solutions, enhancing their creative problem-solving abilities.

Transporting students to a world of endless possibilities

In a TED Talk given by the late Sir Ken Robinson, he ponders on whether schools kill creativity. With our Letters from the future assignment, we want to do our part in Haaga-Helia being a school that nourishes student creativity. We want our students to embrace their creative side and feel confident to express this important skill in exploring and shaping the future.

Reading the letters from the future is one of our favorite tasks of the year! Every time, we are in awe of the boundless creativity of our students.

Picture: Shutterstock