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Ditching dystopia: The case for more positive, participatory, and place-based futuring

#esiStateOfTheArt talk by Dr Maike Hamann

The future is bleak. At least, that’s the dominant narrative, the easy answer. Climate change, inequality, pandemics, and wars – there does not seem to be much to be positive about. And yet, we know that negative thinking is bad for us, and often counterproductive in achieving sustainability goals. In this talk, I explore the power of futuring, which is the purposeful and systematic thinking about and planning for the future. Drawing on examples from southern Africa, I argue for rebellious positivity in futuring, and illustrate the value of participatory processes and collective imagining as a method for creating transformative experiences. Finally, focusing on urban systems, I outline the importance of anchoring future visions in specific places and contexts, to challenge dominant Global North ideas of the future city.

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Dr Maike Hamann is a Senior Lecturer in Development and Sustainability at the Centre for Geography and Environmental Science (CGES).

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Environment and Sustainability Institute