How to use design to speculate about possible futures?
One of the most speculative, educational, collaborative projects funded by ERASMUS+ (the European Union programme for education, training, youth, sport) has started taking shape: the SpeculativeEdu project, aiming at influencing speculative design education at the European level by engaging educators, practitioners, and researchers, as well as students and the broader public in the actual refinement of design curriculum.
With the scope of collecting, exchanging, reflecting upon, developing, and advancing educational practices in the area of speculative design and its self-critical approach, the SpeculativEdu project aims at moving discussions beyond the existing design educational programs and develop novel design educational approaches outside the regular curriculum, whilst strengthening simultaneous institutional collaboration.
SpeculativeEdu will start out by having two international workshops, a conference, and a symposium involving not only experts and researchers, but also students and the broader public in the actual formulation of speculative design educational concepts.
Today, design practice often focusses on making technology easy to use, practical, even sexy. In speculative design, however, the curriculum proposes a practice that engages with a social context, using design as a means of speculating about how things could be, examining also the possible negative implications of introducing a new product into everyday life – imagining possible futures.
In speculative design today, some educational programmes put their focus on hi-resolution fictional props, whilst others focus on a particular technology, exploring the aesthetics of such futures. Both tend towards stylistic exercises with little thought for social implications and/or political engagement. Other follow the “public engagement with technology” approach, but rarely examine the possible negative implications of introducing a new product into everyday life.
Starting from these premises, SpeculativeEdu will bring a comprehensive overview of the discipline and set-up framework for the implementation of the speculative design approach in the educational context with a strong relation with the “real world”, responding to business, public policy making, and societal needs.
The SpeculativeEdu project focusses on strengthening speculative design education by collecting and exchanging existing knowledge and experiences whilst developing new methods in this emerging design field. Based on the need for stronger institutional collaboration related to an upgrade to the speculative design approach in the educational context, the consortium thus consists of the leading European academic/research institutions, SMEs, and an NGO from speculative practice, education, and research: the University of Split (Croatia), Edinburgh Napier University (UK), Goldsmiths, the University of London (UK), the Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute (Portugal), the Human Ecosystems Relazioni (Italy), and the Institute for Transmedia Design (Slovenia). The intention of this project and consortium is to collaboratively extend and bring together knowledge, skills, and educational culture in order to deliver a comprehensive overview of the discipline and set-up a framework for the implementation of speculative design approaches into the higher educational context with a strong relation with the “real world”, responding to business, public policy making, and societal need.
This project will last two years (1 October 2018 – 30 September 2020), and will follow an international workshop in Split and later in Firenze, as well as a conference in Slovenia, a symposium with an exhibition, and a final dissemination workshop to be held in Split, all as multiplier events, counting more than 150 international experts, practitioners, and students and approximately 550 visitors. All workshops, led by academic partners, will be focussed on the exchange of experiences between higher education institutions and include participants from their respective practice fields – higher education students and practitioners, selected through an open call as well as from the broader public.
Oriented towards novel educational skills and practices for the 21st century, focussing especially on the relations between technology and people (society), SpeculativeEdu is going to produce three outcomes:
– State of Speculative Design Study, a collection of best practices and case-studies;
– Speculative Design Textbook, a textbook for students and practitioners; and
– Speculative Design Open Toolkit, an open access online repository.
SpeculativeEdu will carry out a concept of open/free education resources. All produced teaching, learning, and research materials will be in the public domain and allowed for free use, adaptation, and distribution, and the project results will be published online at the project web platform.
So, come and co-create the future with us…