Futuring for Sustainability Summer School

Professor John Robinson lecturing during the Futuring for Sustainability summer school

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.

Learn to imagine positive futures and mobilize to achieve them in a democratic fashion. Develop an understanding of futuring techniques including scenario planning, modelling, backcasting, experiential futuring, art-based approaches and design. As a participant you will try out these techniques by experimenting in a real-world setting in work studio sessions. This summer school builds students’ capacity to develop new visions and imaginations of possible futures and alternative sustainability pathways. Interested to know more? Contact our coordinator, Jeroen Oomen or apply.

In 2020, the Futuring for Sustainability Summer School is organised in collaboration with Pathways to Sustainability.

Moving towards a sustainable future in which all can live well within ecological means is a deeply social challenge. 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. Novels such as George Orwell’s 1984, films such as Back to the Future, and artistic styles such as Afrofuturism and steampunk, for example, have deeply influenced the way people feel about and prepare for the future. 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.