Sense-making and Futuring for Uncertain Times
|Research & Design||Justyna Doherty|
|Programme||MA Design for Change|
|Project Goal||This research aimed to develop and test new design-led methods which can shape and influence attitudes towards the long-term future with a view to affecting behaviours toward our individual futures, and our planet’s.|
“How to embrace ethical responsibility not only towards current contemporaries but towards the future contemporaries.” B. Adam, Future Matters
This research aimed to develop and test new design-led methods which can shape and influence attitudes towards the long-term future with a view to affecting behaviours toward our individual futures, and our planet’s.
Stretching people’s capacity to care about future generations means that they take responsibility for that future. The main goal of research ” about time” was to find ways to connect to future people personally and intimately and embrace ethical responsibility for future generations. We wanted to reflect on what challenges the Anthropocene brings and how to embrace the need to reimagine human and non-human life.
So far, humankind was concentrated on exploring, gaining, getting and making. However, looking at systemic issues, pandemics, and violence, we realise that this type of thinking did not work, that it is a time to “unmake” or make with purpose. Some things also lost in nature will never be repaired. We face the loss and need to learn to think and talk about it. In our research, we explored ways to deal with loss, and uncertainty, trying to find ways to think about it constructively. We explored various ways of thinking about time and the future. Most of all -we were exploring benefits and ways of long term – and future thinking. We wanted to challenge the traditional linear thinking processes and develop ways of engaging people in future thinking processes and reflection. We developed tools to allow engagement with future literacy at a basic level, which could become a starting point to expand it into long-term thinking.
As a tangible outcome of this project, a prototype book called “the Barometer” was created – a journal/sketchbook full of exercises, reflection prompts, notes, and suggestions for various ways of thinking about time and the future. The Barometer is a playful invitation to use speculative design and worldbuilding as tools, it is also an invitation to reflect on our legacy, mortality, assumptions about the future, and ways of dealing with uncertainty. By creating individual timelines and expanding them to the people we know and love, participants used the journal as a vehicle or help reflect on their role in building their future of the planet as a place to live for people connected to us. By doing so, they were able to embrace ethical responsibility for the planet’s future.
Eight out of ten survey participants agreed, that engagement with the journal / the Barometer changed how they think about time. In addition, over 77% of respondents agreed that the Barometer helped them view future people as personally connected to. The survey results indicated that connecting to future generations as living, breathing and feeling people is a very powerful tool. It helps extend our thinking beyond our own and teaches us empathy towards future people, people we do not know.