An Academy of Hope

people gathering in a circle and listening to a woman speaking
Participants in discussion during the launch event of An Academy of Hope project at De Lik, Utrecht.

An Academy of Hope is an action research project that explores new pedagogical avenues for navigating uncertain futures amidst the planetary crisis. It aims to bring together students, policymakers, researchers, activists, and other societal actors to engage in collaborative explorations around the question: Could we imagine a good life that is not dependent on fossil fuels?

Follow An Academy of Hope


With Utrecht University as its home base, the key interests lie in theorising and experimenting with:

  1. Pedagogical approaches that work to resist fatalism and naïve optimism with respect to the planetary crisis by helping communities of inquiry to be with the trouble and act for positive change.
  2. Pedagogical approaches and curricular innovations that open up space for a deep engagement with the question of the future good life.
  3. Pedagogical approaches and curricular innovations that establish reciprocal relationships between students and various societal actors (e.g. policymakers, activists, artists).


An Academy of Hope is funded by the Dutch Higher Education Premiums 2021, awarded by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science to the Urban Futures studio’s Mixed Classroom.


On July 6th Urban Futures Studio launched An Academy of Hope research project during an interactive live event at former prison De Lik in Utrecht.

  • audience listening to dr. Peter Pelzer sitting on metal stairs, reading from paper
  • audience sitting and listening. In the background a television displaying the text 'The Good Life in a post-fossil future'
  • Dr. Koen Wessels standing on stairs giving a speech to an audience
  • people gathering in a circle and discussing
  • Four uu researchers sitting on a couch and comfortable chairs during a panel discussion
  • people sitting outside in a courtyard discussing around a big white sheet of paper
  • People sitting outside on a courtyard discussing around big white sheets of paper
  • An audience sitting and standing on a grass hill
  • people sitting in a courtyard listening to Koen Wessels speaking

Research team