a visual essay
Process: During my MBA in Design Strategy, I took a class on Strategic Foresight. For an assignment, I was asked to reflect on what 'images of the future' influenced my own cultural assumptions and biases, to re-examine them, and if necessary discard them. In doing so, new realms of cultural possibilities emerge.
Insights: These 'thought experiment' helped me identify the cultural 'memes' that influenced my notion of agency in the face of change. I reimagine a future that breaks away from the industrial fantasy, religious dogma and social stigmas. One that re-connects us with a new relationships between people, culture, technology and nature.
What is critical futures studies?
'It signifies a range of methods and tools through which we may look 'beneath the surface' of social reality in order to realize the full potential of futures work. Critical futures study recognizes the partiality of traditions, cognitive frameworks and ways of knowing. It is therefore possible to analyze the problematic aspects of the existing social and economic order and to explore some of their contradictions.' Richard A. Slaughter, Critical Futures Studies as an educational strategy.
'At present the key drivers of change in the world emerge from the still relatively primitive stages of human and social development such as are expressed in: technical dynamism coupled with scientism, materialism, commercial exploitation (profit-driven organisations such as the trans-nationals, banks etc.), nationalism (the military-industrial complex), colonialism, greed, short-term thinking, ego, fear of death and defects in the Western industrial worldview—particularly short-term thinking and the hegemony of instrumental rationality. Overall, it has become fundamentally anti-life, having lost sight of ‘the inner world’ during the industrialisation process. It read out of its world picture key areas such as myth, ritual, connectedness, spirituality and the numinous.' Richard Slaughter, Futures beyond Dystopia
Disrupt your thinking of the future:
Slaughter gives us tools to explore a different set of cultural assumptions to lead the world in a very different direction. Here are some of 'thought experiments' you can do to disrupt your thinking.
1. Assume that the Western worldview is defective and provides us with a very partial and ‘thin’ view of the world.
2. Imagine that the dominant political and economic powers in the world might be on the wrong track insofar as they are perpetuating destructive and unsustainable views, practices and systems.
3. Consider that there may be significant arenas of human experience that have been marginalised or overlooked by Western institutions such as politics, education and the mass media.
4. Explore the idea that all our much-vaunted ‘cutting edge’ technologies may actually be derivative and secondary in terms of what matters most to people.
5. Imagine that the present ideology of endless material growth were replaced by an ethic of ‘enoughness’ or ‘voluntary simplicity’ and that a stewardship ethic replaced the current consumerist ethos.
6. Speculate on how it would be if to consciously re-design the Western worldview by retiring defective components and replacing them with consciously-chosen equivalents.