Social Sciences
Course

Futuring for Sustainability

Anxiety, Backlash, and the Political

Held from 8 until 12 July 2024, Futuring for Sustainability is an interactive course in which we address the search for sustainable futures.

€1000

Specifications

-
Course Level
Master or PhD
ECTS credits
1.5 ECTS
Course location(s)
Utrecht, The Netherlands

Description

What we do in the present is profoundly influenced by our aspirations, expectations, and our collective dreams. But what if our societal aspirations cannot be reconciled with the dream of a sustainable future? In this year's edition of the annual Futuring for Sustainability Summer School we address precisely this question.

This year, we will zoom in on the tensions between an accelerating energy transition and the need for just, safe, and ecologically sustainable futures. How can we realize societal transformations towards sustainability, to living well equitably within ecological means? How to navigate the inevitable political and social conflicts such transformations inevitably bring? How can we understand widespread backlash against climate policy? And what can environmentalists learn from the ideological machinations of far-right and conservative movements? In this one-week Futuring for Sustainability summer school, these are central questions. We will address them using futuring, a novel approach to future-making pioneered by the Urban Futures Studio.

Sustainability is the defining challenge of the 21st century. In this summer school, we take this challenge seriously, as a cultural, social, and political challenge. It is clear that the way in which the world is organised today fails to safeguard a liveable future.

Our expectations about the future, our dreams and imaginations for it, profoundly influence the way we act in the present. Ideas of the future have been captured by those with a vested interest in the socio-ecological status quo. For example, just think about how marketing and societal aspirations about fast cars, fast fashion, and far-away holiday influence the choices people make for the future. Unexpected downturns such as 9/11, the financial crisis, and the Covid-19 pandemic influence those dreams too. Technological and societal developments always rely on images of the future, on people acting based on their imaginations and expectations.

Hence our central questions: how can we unsettle the apparent consensus, build new images of the future, and facilitate the change we so deeply need? How can we open up pathways to a future that is sustainable, just, and democratic?

We are now amidst a new wave of populism, nativism, and environmental backsliding. The resistance to change is palpable. So deeply entrenched are our unsustainable aspirations that any attempt to question them is widely received as a threat to people’s freedom. The power of these aspirations raises an important question: are there perhaps lessons to learn from the far-right and conservatives about how to capture the future? Or must a genuinely just movement develop and share images of the future in a fundamentally different manner? In this year's edition of the annual Futuring for Sustainability Summer School we address precisely this question.

Held from 8 until12 July 2024, Futuring for Sustainability is an interactive course in which we address the search for sustainable futures. This year, we will zoom in on the tensions between an accelerating energy transition and the need for just, safe, and ecologically sustainable futures. How can we realize societal transformations towards sustainability, to living well equitably within ecological means? How to navigate the inevitable political and social conflicts such transformations inevitably bring? How can we understand widespread backlash against climate policy? And what can environmentalists learn from the ideological machinations of far-right and conservative movements? In the one-week Futuring for Sustainability summer school, these are central questions. We will address them using futuring, a novel approach to future-making pioneered by the Urban Futures Studio.

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. Lecturers from various disciplines will introduce what they deem to be crucial insights and cultural tools for building a more sustainable future. 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 popular backlash. Finding pathways to sustainable futures is a social and cultural challenge. Deeply held values connect to even the most high-tech solutions. Drawing on a wide variety of literature, this summer school offers the Urban Futures Studio approach to shaping visions for desirable sustainable futures. We offer our interpretation of how to give those visions a social life, our take on making them affect processes in the real world. Throughout the summer school, questions of democracy and politics will be a central focus: who shape sustainable futures and how do they do so?

Please Note: this summer school will be fully physical. We look forward to welcoming you in Utrecht and collaborating with you in person

For those doing their PhD or with limited funding, some scholarships or fee waivers/reductions may be available. Please reach out to the course coordinators if you have any questions.

For questions, please contact: j.j.oomen@uu.nl and t.j.stacey@uu.nl

Target audience

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.

Aim of the course

The course aims to help participants understand futuring, and how it can help address the multiple crises we observe around us. We provide an overview of 'techniques of futuring' as tools to catalyze the transformation to sustainability through increased democratic participation and expanded imagination. Specifically, we aim to come to grips with the populist backlash around sustainability transition through the lens of futuring.

Study load

1.5 ECTS

Costs

  • Course fee: €1000.00
  • Included: Course + course materials
  • Housing fee: €250
  • Housing provider: Utrecht Summer School

Additional information

The housing costs include housing, plus a Utrecht Summer School sleeping bag, for you to keep. This sleeping bag also includes an inflatable pillow and matrass cover. If you wish to bring your own bedding, please contact us, so we can give you a € 50 discount on the housing fee. Please note that you cannot buy individual bedding items. 

Application

We welcome you to send us a motivation letter or alternatively send us another creative approach to express your interest in this course (e.g. slides, video, storyboard). Please also include your c.v.

Please note: unlike most other Utrecht Summer Schools, the Futuring for Sustainability summer school does not strictly work with a ‘first come, first serve’ system. We will periodically make a selection based on the motivation letter and the curriculum vitae. As soon as you apply, you will receive confirmation that we have received your application. Final decisions about acceptance may, however, take up to two weeks.

Please also note that we still encourage you to apply as soon as possible—we will start accepting people well ahead of the final deadline.

For this course you are required to upload the following documents when applying:

  • Motivation Letter
  • C.V.