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Thomas D’hooge and Lien De Ruyck

Enhancing futures literacy through speculative design

In general, there are a lot of assumptions and misconceptions about the future. Futures Literacy is the skill that allows people to better understand the role that the future plays in what they see and do. People can become more skilled at “using-the-future” because of two facts. One is that the future does not yet exist; it can only be imagined. Two is that humans have the ability to imagine. As a result, humans are able to learn to imagine the future for different reasons and in different ways. Thereby becoming more ‘futures literate’.” (UNESCO) In its role as a Global Laboratory of Ideas, UNESCO is pioneering a powerful change in why and how people use-the-future. Being futures literate activates the ability to imagine and understand potential futures to prepare ourselves to act, adapt, recover and innovate in the present. enhances our ability to prepare, recover and invent as changes occur.

Speculative design is an approach that focuses on exploring and provoking discussions about possible futures, alternative realities, and potential social, cultural, and technological developments. It aims to create thought-provoking artefacts, narratives, or experiences that serve as catalysts for reflection and dialogue.

In a two-year-long (ongoing) action research on “the futures of the internet,”  LUCA School of Arts (Ghent, Belgium) explores speculative design and world-building techniques as a learning method to enhance futures literacy. To illustrate this process, Thomas and Lien have tested a range of collaborative methods that integrate artistic interventions with speculative design activities.

In this workshop, participants experience first-hand how the basic principles of speculative design help to navigate through the futures and the now.

KEYWORDS: futures thinking, futures literacy, speculative design, provotyping, system change, innovation, education

Expertisenetwerk Systemisch Co-design




Citation Data

Author(s): Thomas D’hooge and Lien De Ruyck
Year: 2023
Title: Provotyping the Futures
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD12
Article No.: pre-release
Host: Georgetown University
Location: Amsterdam, NLD
Symposium Dates: October 6–20, 2023
First published: 3 July 2023
Last update: no update
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404