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Plenaries & panels

Part 2: Starts @30 minutes

Pupul Bisht

What does the future look like? Who owns/shapes these images of the future? Whose identity, knowledge, needs, and desires are not represented in these futures?

Making room for non-western ways of knowing, being, and doing in and through design

In this talk, designer-futurist Pupul Bisht discusses the glaring lack of culturally inclusive methods in design and foresight that inspired her Decolonizing Futures Initiative. She argues that as we work towards building a better world for everyone, we need tools to facilitate the process of challenging and re-articulation of hegemonic ideas in favour of more collaborative and place-based approaches. She shares her exploration of potential ways of bringing epistemic plurality to the methods in practice, designed by recovering modes of knowledge-sharing from previously colonized cultures and presents a novel method for imagining plural futures, inspired by the Kaavad folk-storytelling tradition of Rajasthan, India.

By engaging in a conversation about their unique histories and challenges of their immediate environment, this method encourages participants from historically marginalized communities to create visions of their preferred futures that reflect their distinct ideas of progress and are informed by their cultural ways of knowing, being, and doing. In this talk, she will also share insights, reflections, and anecdotes from the field of doing this work with communities in Canada, USA, and India.


Pupul is a designer, futurist and the Winner of the Joseph Jaworski Next Generation Foresight Practitioners Award 2018. She founded the Decolonizing Futures Initiative in 2018. Recognized as a thought leader advocating for culturally inclusive practices in design, Pupul has been invited as a keynote speaker at prestigious international platforms such as the ESPAS Conference (Brussels), UNESCO Global Futures Literacy Design Forum (Paris), PRIMER Conference (NYC), SDNow Conference (Australia), and the Global Foresight Summit among many other. As the on-screen talent for NAB Show Live— the largest show for media, entertainment and technology, Pupul annually curates and hosts the Animation panel in Las Vegas. She is the youngest founding member of Action Foresight’s ‘Global Swarm’— an internationally distributed team of design futurists, reachers, and innovators. The group worked with NESTA on developing a guide on Participatory Futures as well as designing a game to imagine new ways to involve people in thinking about the future. Pupul received her Bachelor of Design from the National Institute of Design, India and a Master of Design in Strategic Foresight & Innovation from OCAD University, Toronto.

Citation Data

Author(s): Pupul Bisht: What does the future look like? Who owns/shapes these images of the future? Whose identity, knowledge, needs, and desires are not represented in these futures?
Title: Decolonizing Futures
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Article No.:
Symposium Dates:
First published: 8 October 2020
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