Utrecht, Netherlands

Futuring for Sustainability

when 5 July 2021 - 9 July 2021
language English
duration 1 week
credits 1.5 EC
fee EUR 750

What we do in the present is profoundly influenced by our expectations of our futures. The annual 'Futuring for Sustainability Summer School' is an interactive course, held from 13-17 July 2020. During this one week course we teach students to understand how techniques of futuring contribute to realizing societal transformations towards sustainability: living well equitably within ecological means. But what does a sustainable world look like? In what type of sustainable future would you want to live? How can we prepare and collaboratively create a sustainable world? In the Futuring for Sustainability summer school, these are central questions.

Our expectations about the future, and our dreams and imaginations for it, profoundly influence the way we act in the present. Visions of plausible, possible, or desirable futures are fundamentally important in shaping our social and environmental futures. For example, just think about the effects novels such as George Orwell’s 1984, films such as Back to the Future, and artistic styles such as Afrofuturism and steampunk have had on the way people feel about and prepare for the future. So too do unexpected downturns such as 9/11, the financial crisis, and the on-going C19 pandemic. Technological and societal developments always rely on images of the future, on people acting based on their imaginations and expectations. Expectations and visions are what makes people act. In society, people and groups are always futuring, always actively trying to shape expectations and visions for the future. They are always trying to shape the future.

The most important challenge of the coming decades is the need to craft a sustainable future. A sustainable future that is also just, desirable, and democratic. In this summer school, the Urban Futures Studio and Pathways to Sustainability collaborate to connect technical and environmental questions around sustainability to social questions around equality, democracy, and participation. Drawing on a wide variety of literature, ranging from political science to urban planning to integrated assessment modelling, the summer school offers the Urban Futures Studio approach to shaping and creating visions for desirable sustainable futures. It also offers our interpretation of how to give those visions a social life, our take on making them affect processes in the real world.

Join us for an interactive course to learn to understand how techniques of futuring contribute to realizing societal transformations towards sustainability: living well equitably within ecological means. Learn how to imagine positive futures and mobilize to achieve them in a democratic and participatory fashion. Understand futuring techniques including scenario planning, modeling, backcasting, experiential futuring, arts-based approaches, science fiction, and design. Lecturers from various disciplines will introduce what they deem to crucial insights for building a more sustainable future. Try out these techniques and insights by experimenting in a real-world setting in workstudio sessions. This course builds your capacity to develop new visions and imaginations of possible futures and alternative sustainability pathways.

Please Note: Under pressure of the C19-pandemic, we might have to move our summer school into the virtual sphere. Please be advised that in principle this course will be offered physically, but we may need to change to a fully virtual format. If so, the price will be reduced accordingly. Given the uncertainty about the current pandemic and related restrictions in global mobility, we will keep a close eye on developments – and inform you well in advance.

Some scholarship may be available.

Further details about the practicalities of the virtual summer school will follow in the coming weeks. For any questions, please contact j.j.oomen@uu.nl

Course leader

Prof. dr. Maarten Hajer

Target group

Designed for graduate students from all disciplinary backgrounds, particularly advanced Masters and Doctoral students. We also consider Masters students, Postdoctoral students, and select practitioners who are interested in futuring and sustainability.

Course aim

The course aims to provide participants with an overview of techniques of futuring as tools and processes for catalyzing the transformation to sustainability through increased democratic participation and expanded imagination. Participants are equipped with the knowledge to understand and apply these techniques for further independent study and for addressing societal challenges.

Fee info

EUR 750: Course + course materials
EUR 200: Housing fee (optional)

Register for this course
on course website