NeoRural Futures – SpeculativeEdu project in Rome

What are the possible, imaginable, and preferable futures of rurality?

How will rural environments change in the near future from the impacts of the global phenomena now taking place on our planet and how will people live, move, communicate, and relate between cities and rurality with these transformations? How will these changes reflect on people’s daily lives and on the everyday objects they use?

On 2 – 6 September, the city of Rome hosted the SpeculativeEdu NeoRuralFutures summer school, bringing together SpeculativeEdu partners, friends, and leading Speculative Design practitioners, educators, and researchers. And of course, ITD’s Sara Božanić, Pika Žvan Novak and Petra Bertalanič, as SpeculativeEdu Project partners responsible for communication management, were there as well! And it was a blast!

One hundred people enrolled from all around the world; from Europe, the USA, China, Palestine, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, Turkey, India, Israel, and South Africa. Forty of the participants were selected to join the SpeculativeEdu NeoRural Futures summer school – a five-day intensive workshop in Rome featuring an exhibit and an international conference speculating and discovering five different futures of rurality to come.

On the top floor of RUFA Space (Rome University of Fine Arts), in the heart of the San Lorenzo neighbourhood, this group of participants, together with an interdisciplinary team of tutors and coordinators, speculated and investigated how rurality is changing in relation to global phenomena (such as climate change, migration, and technological innovation), creating future scenarios by using and experimenting different Speculative Design approaches.

Together with RUFA, the host institution and academic partner, four different cultural spaces in the city hosted a series of conversations about the future: 

September 3: The group met in MERCATO CENTRALE;
September 4: There was a talk with two design studios, NONE Collective and Ultravioletto; and
September 5: The Fondazione RomaEuropa Festival took place, with a focus on its DIGITALIVE programme. 

The concepts elaborated in the five day workshop from 2 – 6 September were presented on the last day at the NeoRural Futures open Exhibition at RUFA Space, followed by the SpeculativeEdu conference and the Round Table, presenting a good opportunity to discuss with researchers, artists, and designers from all over Europe, as well as to meet with SpeculativeEdu partners and participants. 


SpeculativeEdu is a research and education project funded by the European Commission through its Erasmus+ Programme. Coordinated by the Arts Academy Split (Croatia), in partnership with Goldsmiths University of London (UK), Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute (Portugal), Edinburgh Napier University (Scotland), HER – Human Ecosystems Relazioni (Italy), and the Institute for Transmedia Design (Slovenia), the project has two main objectives: to investigate emergent practices and approaches of design fiction, near future, speculative, and critical design; and to create a book and an online toolkit, making this research available to teachers, students, professionals, and communities.