I’m an academic at the UCL Institue for Sustainable Heritage. Previously I worked in the UK Civil Service, leading foresight teams and building futures capacity across different departments. In Singapore, working as an independent consultant, I facilitated foresight workshops for various clients including UNESCO and the British Council, and wrote reports for academic and policy audiences. Before that, with Futurelab, my work focused on the use of games to support learning in Singapore, with the Media Development Authority and the Information Development Agency, working with local and international institutions, learners, firms, researchers and policy-makers to explore the different ways in which games and mobile technologies might find a place in Singaporean education.

During 2007-2008, I worked on the Beyond Current Horizons project, a two-year foresight programme funded by the DCSF, looking at possible futures for education to 2030, in the context of social and technological change. I led the evidence-gathering and scenario construction work, commissioning and reviewing work from senior academics around the world, developing an appropriate methodology and communicating the final scenarios to policy-makers and educators through workshops and seminars. I was on the organising committee of the ESRC-funded seminar series Educational Futures, which ran from 2009 to 2011 and explored links between education research and futures studies.

I made some games for other people — one called Harpbeat for the Interesting Games Festival in 2008, about invisible connections and making a giant harp out of people, and one for the Arnolfini gallery, as part of their 2009 Futurology season, about fugitives from different futures. For Situations, I gave a talk alongside Jon Turney, Thomas F. Thornton and Gareth Powell on “How To Prosper During The Coming Bad Years”. It was quite upbeat.


The Future Will Be Cultural, with UNESCO Chair in Heritage Futures Prof. Cornelius Holtorf, on care and maintenance as stances towards the future, and the necessity of recognising culture as the root of futures (Dubai Future Forum)
Mapping Youth Futures on speculation and anticipation in young people’s internal conversations (Cagliari)
Anticipation 2022 on the moral natures of ‘long time’ and ‘deep time’, and on using sound to explore speculative futures (Arizona)
Bartlett School of Architecture on using heritage to trouble settler futures (pre-conference workshop for ‘Modern Heritage in the Anthropocene’)
DCMS on thinking about care and maintenance in policy futures
AHRC/LABEX pre-funding workshop on experiencing unthinkable objects
OECD Nuclear Energy Radioactive Waste Management Committee Expert Group on Awareness Preservation after Repository Closure on anticipating future futures
Association of Critical Heritage Studies on a realist ontology for heritage, and on foresight in heritage
Anticipation 2019 on located futures, heritage and care (Oslo)
ICOMOS University Forum/UNESCO: Thinking and planning the future in heritage management on the history of futures workshops (Amsterdam)
Bennett Institute Conference 2019 on futures work in UK policy
Memories of the Future on latent futures in heritage (London)
Cognitive Edge retreat on future heritage and thick presents
Second International Conference on Anticipation on images of the future and educational decision-making (London)
First International Conference on Anticipation on Bernstein’s discursive gap and a realist approach towards evaluating futures projects (Trento)
Character Education for a Challenging Century (OECD) on ethics and human enhancement (Geneva)
British Council Policy Dialogue on future skills (Singapore)
Singapore Futurists on the boundaries of the self (Singapore)
Computer Assisted Learning 2011 on analysing mobile learning applications (Manchester)
Beijing Association for Science and Technology on mobile learning games and science communication (Beijing)
XMediaLab on immersive experiences and pervasive games (Beijing)
Institute of Adult Learning on the future of work and implications for adult education (Singapore)
ESRC Educational Futures on Methods for Educational Futures Research (Nottingham)

I’ve also presented at PICNIC Young (Amsterdam, 2009), BETT (London, 2008), Fremtidens Naturfag (Århus/Tønder/Lyngby, 2007), ISFE Expert Conference (Brussels, 2007), EIEF (Edinburgh, 2005), Serious Games Summit (Washington, 2005), and numerous local seminars and conferences in Europe and the UK.

Selected publications:

  • Sandford, R. (2023). Reparative futures in a thick, virtuous present. Futures, 154, 103278.
  • Finch, M. & Sandford, R. (2023). Scenarios as a device for forming common futures: plurality and the post-pandemic university. In Carrigan, M., Moscovitz, H., Martini, M. & Robertson, S. (eds.) Building the Post-Pandemic University. Elgar
  • Sandford, R. & Cassar, M. (2020). Heritages of futures thinking: Strategic foresight and critical futures. In Holtorf, C. & Högberg, A. (eds.) Cultural Heritage and the Future. Routledge
  • Sandford, R. (2019). Thinking with heritage: Past and present in lived futures. Futures 111, 71-80.
  • Miller R., Sandford R. (2018) Futures Literacy: The Capacity to Diversify Conscious Human Anticipation. In: Poli R. (eds) Handbook of Anticipation. Springer, Cham.
  • Sandford, R. (2014). Teachers as game designers: using a game in formal learning in a Singapore primary school. Education Media International 51(1), 66-78. doi: 10.1080/09523987.2014.889410
  • Sandford, R. (2013). Located futures: recognising place and belonging in narratives of the future. International Journal of Education Research 61, 116-125. Special Issue on ‘Educational Futures’. doi:
  • Williamson, B. & Sandford, R. (2011). Playful pedagogies: Cultural and curricular approaches to game-based learning in the school classroom. In Felicia, P. (ed.) Handbook of Research on Improving Learning and Motivation through Educational Games: Multidisciplinary Approaches. IGI Global
  • Sandford, R., Facer, K., Williamson, B. (2011). Constructions of games, teachers and young people in formal learning. In de Freitas, S. and Maharg, P. (eds.) Digital Games and Learning. Continuum, UK
  • Facer, K, & Sandford, R. (2010). The next 25 years? Future scenarios and future directions for education and technology. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning 26(1) pp. 74-93
  • Sandford, R., Ulicsak, M., Facer, K. & Rudd, T. (2006). Teaching with Games: final report. Futurelab, UK (
  • Sandford, R. & Williamson, B (2005) Games Handbook. Futurelab, UK (