Research

still from digital animation 2050 — an energetic odyssey
Animation still from '2050 — An Energetic Odyssey'

Research in the Urban Futures Studio is devoted to the study of positive, sustainable, and meaningfully democratic futures and of ways to get there. In this light, we investigate the ways that ‘futuring’—the active social creation of (imagined) futures by a wide variety of actors—makes future worlds. Conducting transdisciplinary research, we attempt to understand how social practices can make it (im)possible to imagine alternative futures. Drawing from a widely interdisciplinary collection of social-constructivist research, the UFS is primarily concerned with representations and imaginations of possible, plausible, and desirable futures. Our research engages with the question how imagined futures (Beckert, 2015) and sociotechnical imaginaries (Jasanoff, 2015) shape sociotechnical, sociopolitical, and socioeconomic development, and with questions around the formation of these imagined futures.

We believe in the power of the (collective) imagination, and believe this collective imagination is discursively, materially and dramaturgically enacted in practice. To that end, we study ‘techniques of futuring’, ‘practices bringing together actors around one or more imagined futures and through which actors come to share particular orientations for actions’ (Hajer & Pelzer, 2018: 222). Using this lens, we attempt to better understand how societies and communities prepare for the future, and how we can use this understanding to build a more sustainable world.

From this socio-theoretical perspective, research in the Urban Futures Studio always revolves  around several pragmatic questions:

  • How can we open up a democratic space for meaningful political debate about possible sustainable futures?
  • How can we use futuring methods, both existing and newly developed, to work towards positive and sustainable futures?

Simply put: how can we use our plural perspectives on futuring for sustainability?

Research themes

Concepts

Maarten Hajer on 'soft spaces' (Innovatie Estafette)