This article takes its point of departure from the younger generation's problematic relationship with time and the future. A general sense of changeability and directionlessness in society compromises young people's confidence in themselves to make a difference as individuals in important global issues affecting their futures, such as climate change. Given recent aims and commitments of science education to promote sustainable development and student agency, this study explores how science teaching can help students imagine and face possible future scenarios and develop agency in the present to influence them. This article presents a science education approach to equip secondary school students with skills of futures thinking and agency that we call “future-scaffolding skills.” It also shows the process of building an operational definition for recognizing those skills in students' discourse and actions. For this purpose, an empirical study was carried out in the context of a teaching–learning module on climate change, consisting of activities inspired by the field of futures studies. Essays, individual and group interviews, questionnaires, and video recordings of students' final projects were collected from 24 students (16–19-years old) from three European countries. The results contribute to operationally defining “future-scaffolding skills,” consisting of “structural skills” (the ability to recognize temporal, logical and causal relationships and build systemic views) and “dynamical skills” (the ability to navigate scenarios, relating local details to global views, past to present and future, and individual to collective actions).
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