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Making Hopeful Futures: Critical hope and radical imagination in design

Format: Papers, RSD12, RSD12 Papers Pre-release

Irem Tekogul
Future visions embody our hopes and dreams, worries and fears about what is yet to come. While approaches such as speculative design, experiential futures and design fiction are more explicit about their commitment to exploring alternative futures, all design(ing) is oriented towards the future. However, with increasing precarity, which is defined as a profound and objective uncertainty over the future, so that “there will be no future” becomes the dominant vision (Pulcini, 2020). While design is seen as giving form to futures (Maze 2016), design theorist Tony Fry cautions that designers have been complicit in what he terms as defuturing, which means the negation of world’s futures (2020). Then, in the face of increasing precarity how can we re-orient towards designing hopeful futures instead of defuturing? Following Arjun Appadurai (2013), I join the call for reframing hope as a politics of action to make futures otherwise. Hope in this sense, is not passive wishing or waiting, but a factor in mobilizing collective action for alternative futures. At the same time, fictional expectations about the future can be used to cement present-day status quo. Thus, it matters what hopes we are designing with, or whose hopes we are weaving into future visions. To begin exploring these questions, I examine future-oriented design practices and investigate how hope is embedded, materialized and enacted in future-making. I draw on data from an ethnographic field study of the design laboratory at the Silicon Valley Research and Development division of a multi-national technology company. In this presentation, I critically reflect on the role hope plays in future making, and explore emerging design practices that highlight possibilities to employ hope for catalyzing systemic change.
Keywords: futures thinking
strategic foresight
politics of hope

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Citation Data

Author(s): Irem Tekogul
Year: 2023
Title: Making Hopeful Futures: Critical hope and radical imagination in design
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD12
Article No.: pre-release
URL: https://rsdsymposium.org/hope-and-radical-imagination
Host: Georgetown University
Location: Washington DC, USA
Symposium Dates: October 6–20, 2023
First published: 30 September 2023
Last update: no update
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404

Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design, RSD12

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