The Future Problem Solving Program: Empowering The Leaders of Tomorrow

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Three students using a laptop in a table.

The Future Problem Solving Program: Empowering Tomorrow’s Leaders

The Future Problem Solving Program (FPSP) is an educational initiative that aims to foster creative problem-solving abilities, critical thinking, and leadership skills in students. Established in 1974 by Dr. E. Paul Torrance, the program has expanded globally and now serves students in over 20 countries. This essay will explore the objectives, methodologies, and benefits of the Future Problem Solving Program, as well as its role in shaping the leaders of tomorrow.

Objectives of the Future Problem Solving Program

The Future Problem Solving Program, through its objectives, plays a crucial role in shaping the leaders of tomorrow. As our global society continues to face unprecedented challenges, the FPSP remains a powerful educational tool, empowering students to create a brighter, more equitable future.

The program’s primary objectives include the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which are essential in our rapidly evolving world. By employing a systematic approach to complex issues, students learn to analyze situations, generate creative solutions, and evaluate their feasibility.

Furthermore, the FPSP emphasizes the importance of collaboration and teamwork, recognizing that diverse perspectives and collective effort significantly enhance the problem-solving process.

The program incorporates team-based activities and competitions that foster communication, interpersonal skills, and the ability to work effectively with others. In addition to these skills, the FPSP aims to cultivate leadership abilities in its participants, encouraging them to take on active roles in their communities and beyond.

Students are empowered to identify real-world problems and take the initiative to develop and implement solutions, fostering a sense of responsibility, confidence, and determination.

Lastly, the program promotes global awareness and responsible citizenship by engaging participants with pressing global issues and providing opportunities to interact with students from different countries.

Students leaning on a wall while looking at a laptop.

This exposure to diverse perspectives fosters empathy, cultural understanding, and a sense of global responsibility, ultimately molding students into responsible global citizens who are well-equipped to tackle the challenges of the future.

Methodologies Employed in the Future Problem Solving Program

The methodologies employed in the Future Problem Solving Program effectively cultivate critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, and leadership skills in students. By leveraging its six-step problem-solving model, curriculum, components, and competitions, the FPSP creates a comprehensive and engaging learning experience that empowers students to address the challenges of tomorrow.

The Six-Step Problem-Solving Model

The foundation of the FPSP is its six-step problem-solving model, which serves as a guide for students as they address complex issues. This model includes the following:

  • Identifying the problem
  • Gathering information and research
  • Generating possible solutions
  • Developing criteria for evaluating solutions
  • Evaluating and selecting the best solution
  • Creating an action plan

By consistently applying this model to various scenarios, students develop a systematic approach to problem-solving, learning to analyze situations, generate creative ideas, evaluate potential solutions, and implement effective strategies.

Curriculum and Classroom Instruction

The FPSP’s curriculum is designed to introduce students to the six-step problem-solving model and to provide them with the tools and resources necessary to apply it effectively. Teachers play a crucial role in implementing the FPSP curriculum, guiding students through the problem-solving process and providing feedback on their progress.

Classroom instruction often includes individual and group exercises, role-playing, simulations, and discussions, allowing students to engage with the material in diverse ways. By incorporating various teaching methods and activities, the FPSP fosters a dynamic and engaging learning environment that encourages students to explore their own problem-solving potential.

Components of the FPSP

The Future Problem Solving Program consists of multiple components, each designed to address different aspects of problem-solving and creative thinking. These components include:

Future Problem Solving: The core component, where students apply the six-step problem-solving model to hypothetical future scenarios.

Community Problem Solving (CmPS): Students identify real-world problems in their community and use the six-step model to develop and implement solutions.

Scenario Writing: Students develop their creative writing skills by crafting narratives set in the future, based on a given topic.

Scenario Performance: Students create and perform a live presentation, set in the future, which addresses a given problem.

These components allow students to explore various aspects of problem-solving, creativity, and communication, broadening their skillset and deepening their understanding of the problem-solving process.

Competitions and the International Conference

Competitions play a significant role in the FPSP, providing students with an opportunity to showcase their skills and collaborate with others. These competitions consist of regional, national, and international levels, culminating in the annual International Conference.

Competitions not only motivate students to excel but also provide valuable feedback on their problem-solving abilities. By engaging in friendly competition, students can assess their strengths and weaknesses and strive for continuous improvement.

Students talking in a table.

The International Conference serves as the pinnacle of the FPSP experience, bringing together students from different countries to compete, exchange ideas, and celebrate their achievements. This event fosters international understanding and cooperation, encouraging students to view global issues from diverse perspectives.

The History of the Future Problem Solving Program

The history of the Future Problem Solving Program is a testament to the vision and dedication of its founder, Dr. E. Paul Torrance, and to the countless educators and students who have embraced and contributed to its growth.

From its humble beginnings in the United States to its present-day global reach, the program has evolved and adapted to the changing world, consistently promoting creative problem-solving and critical thinking in the face of new challenges.

Origins: Dr. E. Paul Torrance and the Birth of the FPSP

Dr. E. Paul Torrance, often hailed as the “Father of Creativity,” was a renowned psychologist and educator who dedicated his life to the study of creativity and its cultivation in students. Torrance’s research revealed that creative thinking and problem-solving skills could be developed and enhanced through proper training and education.

Inspired by these findings, Dr. Torrance founded the Future Problem Solving Program in 1974, aiming to foster creative problem-solving abilities in young minds.

Initially, the program was implemented in schools across the United States. Its success and the growing recognition of its importance soon led to its expansion to other countries, beginning with Australia in 1981. Over the following decades, the FPSP continued to grow, and today, it operates in over 20 countries, including Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and South Korea.

Development: Expanding the Program’s Reach and Impact

The FPSP has undergone significant development and refinement since its inception. Early on, the program focused primarily on individual problem-solving exercises. However, as it evolved, it began to incorporate team-based activities, recognizing the value of collaboration and group dynamics in creative problem-solving.

As the program gained traction, its structure was further refined, and the FPSP’s six-step problem-solving model was established. This model served as the foundation for the program’s curriculum, guiding students through the process of identifying, researching, generating, evaluating, and implementing solutions to complex problems.

In addition to the core Future Problem Solving component, the program has introduced several other components, such as Community Problem Solving (CmPS), Scenario Writing, and Scenario Performance. These additions have allowed students to explore various aspects of creativity and problem-solving, broadening the program’s appeal and impact.

Evolution: Adapting to the Changing World

Throughout its history, the Future Problem Solving Program has demonstrated an ability to adapt and respond to the changing world. As global issues have evolved, so too have the topics and scenarios presented in the program. Students have engaged with diverse themes, including environmental sustainability, technological advancements, and social justice issues, reflecting the pressing concerns of contemporary society.

Group of students talking in a room.

Moreover, the program has embraced technological advancements, incorporating digital tools and resources to enhance the learning experience. This adaptation has facilitated remote participation, allowing students to collaborate and compete regardless of geographical constraints.

The annual International Conference has also evolved to become a central event in the FPSP calendar. This conference provides a platform for students from around the world to showcase their problem-solving skills, exchange ideas, and celebrate their achievements. By fostering international collaboration and understanding, the conference has helped to strengthen the global impact of the program.

The benefits of participating in the Future Problem Solving Program

The benefits of participating in the Future Problem Solving Program are manifold, extending far beyond the realm of academic achievement. As our global society continues to face unprecedented challenges, the FPSP plays a crucial role in shaping the leaders of tomorrow, empowering them with the tools and perspectives needed to create a brighter, more equitable future. Let’s explore the numerous benefits of participating in the FPSP, which extend beyond academic development to encompass social, emotional, and global dimensions.

Fostering Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills

One of the most significant benefits of participating in the FPSP is the development of critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. The program’s curriculum, which is based on a six-step problem-solving model, guides students through the process of identifying, researching, generating, evaluating, and implementing solutions to complex issues.

By consistently engaging in this process, students become more adept at analyzing situations, generating creative ideas, and evaluating the feasibility of potential solutions. These skills are invaluable in both academic and professional contexts and are essential for success in a rapidly changing world.

Encouraging Creativity and Innovation

The FPSP provides a platform for students to explore and develop their creative potential. By grappling with diverse scenarios and challenges, students learn to think outside the box and consider unconventional solutions.

Moreover, the program emphasizes the importance of innovation, encouraging students to push the boundaries of their own creativity. This focus on creativity not only helps students excel academically but also promotes personal growth and self-expression.

Enhancing Communication and Collaboration

Teamwork and collaboration are central components of the Future Problem Solving Program. Students work in teams to develop and implement solutions, fostering a sense of camaraderie and shared accomplishment.

This collaborative environment helps students develop communication and interpersonal skills, which are crucial in both personal and professional contexts. By learning to articulate ideas effectively, listen to others, and negotiate differences, students become more adept at navigating complex social situations and building strong relationships.

Promoting Global Awareness and Responsibility

The FPSP encourages students to engage with pressing global issues, such as climate change, public health, and social inequality. By grappling with these complex topics, students develop a broader perspective on global challenges and their potential solutions.

Moreover, the program fosters a sense of global responsibility, encouraging students to consider the impact of their actions on the world and to be proactive in addressing societal and environmental issues.

Building Confidence and Resilience

Participating in the FPSP can significantly boost students’ confidence and resilience. By tackling complex problems and navigating difficult scenarios, students learn to trust their own abilities and judgment.

Two students talking in front of a laptop.

The program also emphasizes the importance of perseverance and adaptability, teaching students to learn from setbacks and continue striving for success. These qualities are invaluable in all aspects of life and can help students navigate personal and professional challenges with grace and determination.


The Future Problem Solving Program is a powerful educational initiative that helps to prepare students for the challenges of tomorrow. By fostering critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, and global awareness, the program equips students with essential skills and values that will serve them well in their personal and professional lives.

As our world continues to face complex issues, the Future Problem Solving Program plays a crucial role in shaping the leaders of tomorrow, empowering them to address these challenges with creativity, determination, and empathy.

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