Sustainable Futures summer school: Politics, Democracy, and Futuring

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professor handing summer school participant a certificate
Prof. Maarten Hajer handing a summer school certificate to summer school participant (2019)

From 3 -7 July 2023, the Urban Futures Studio hosts the annual Sustainable Futures summer school (formerly known as ‘Futuring for Sustainability’). In this interactive, one-week course, participants learn about different Techniques of Futuring and how they can contribute to realising societal transformations towards sustainability: living well, equitably, and within ecological means. After two virtual editions, this summer school will be entirely physical again.

Sustainability is the defining challenge of the 21st century. It is becoming increasingly clear that how the world is organised today fails to safeguard a liveable future. In this summer school, we take this challenge seriously as a cultural, social, and political challenge. How can we live up to that challenge? How can societies and communities build pathways to sustainable futures? Is it possible to go beyond technical solutions and imagine futures that are meaningfully different from today? 

In this summer school, the Urban Futures Studio and the Pathways to Sustainability Program collaborate to connect technical and environmental questions around sustainability to social questions around equality, democracy, and participation. Drawing on a wide variety of literature, from political science to urban planning to integrated assessment modelling, this summer school offers the Urban Futures Studio approach to shaping visions for desirable sustainable futures.

Please send your application by May 1st and join us for an interactive course in Utrecht. Learn how to imagine positive futures and mobilise to achieve them in a democratic and participatory fashion. Understand Techniques of Futuring, including scenario planning, modelling, backcasting, experiential futuring, arts-based approaches, science fiction, and design. Learn to understand where our current sustainability discourse comes from - and how ‘the future’ became an object of study. Lecturers from various disciplines will introduce what they deem to be crucial insights for building a more sustainable future. Try out these techniques and insights by experimenting in a real-world setting in work studio sessions. 

Course directors
Dr. Jeroen Oomen & Prof. Dr. Maarten Hajer
For questions, please contact:

Target audience
This course is designed for graduate students from all disciplinary backgrounds, particularly advanced Master’s and Doctoral students. We also consider Master’s students, Postdoctoral students, and select practitioners interested in futuring and sustainability.

Aim of the course
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.

Start date and time
End date and time
Utrecht University
Entrance fee

For those doing their PhD or with limited funding, some scholarships or fee waivers/reductions will be available.