UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage


New Social Futures from Heritage - Short course

Welcome to the New Social Futures from Heritage course.

Collection of images show people, protest, cities and the natural world

On this page you’ll find information on the links to our meeting locations, a general timetable that each day will follow, and materials to support the activities and discussions.
If you have any technical issues or questions about the course, please email: r.sandford@ucl.ac.uk 


There are three locations for the week:

The Zoom meeting will be open from 09:30-16:30 every day.


0930Group welcome
Gather on Zoom for an overview of the day’s aims and activities
1000Independent study
Opportunity to engage with videos and reading to support group work
1100Group task
Back on Zoom to move into groups
1330Independent study
Research to support the group task
1430Group task
Back on Zoom to move into groups for the next activity
1530Plenary session
Critical review and reflection
Connecting themes and key concepts

Reading and materials

Day five

Just one video today and the rest will be discussed in Zoom.

1) Dr Linda Monckton's video

Day four

Only one video today:

1) Richard's video on Speculation

As well as the video, the key things to engage with are:

  • Girardin’s article Near Future Laboratory

Speculative design

Great overview of design fiction and what you’re meant to get out of it, from Fabien Girardin


A recent speculative project to imagine community-focused emergency responses (the horizon scan for this project is linked from Day 2) (https://changeist.com/changelog/2020/3/13/the-future-of-community-resilience-in-emergencies)

Some examples from that project (https://www.nesta.org.uk/project/community-resilience-in-emergencies/futures-artefacts/)

A project from the Near Future Laboratory: “We produce a diagnosis for 25+ widespread social media related pathologies from samples of the online content you consume and share.” (http://6andme.nearfuturelaboratory.com/)

Examples of speculative design from Superflux (https://superflux.in/index.php/work/)

Guide to Mitigation of Shock (https://www.instructables.com/Mitigation-of-Shock/#click=https://t.co/RD9DmSNYqI)

Special issue of the Journal of Futures Studies on design, well worth looking at (https://jfsdigital.org/articles-and-essays/vol-23-no-4-june-2019/)

V&A event from 2018, mainstreaming idea of approaching the future through design  (https://www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/the-future-starts-here#events)

Design futures in policy

Helpful summary of how design futures approaches have been used in policy contexts, and the value they might bring (https://jfsdigital.org/articles-and-essays/vol-23-no-4-june-2019/what-if-there-were-more-policy-futures-studios/)

“Co-Producing Social Futures Through Design Research, a report on ways of using design thinking within social innovation (https://protopublics.org/2016/11/02/report-co-producing-social-futures-through-design-research/)

Report from Professor Lucy Kimbell on the use of design approaches in Policy Lab, a team within the UK Cabinet Office (https://researchingdesignforpolicy.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/kimbell_p...) — https://brittlepaper.com/2020/10/free-download-of-africanfuturism-an-anthology-stories-by-nnedi-okorafor-tl-huchu-dilman-dila-rafeeat-aliyu-tlotlo-tsamaase-mame-bougouma-diene-mazi-nwonwu-and-derek-lubangakene/ - link to pdf as well

Resources on speculative design (scroll down for some quotes describing the goals of speculative designers (https://speculativeedu.eu/approaches-methods-and-tools-for-speculative-design/

 Links to many examples and articles of speculative design (https://github.com/speculativeedu/The-SpeculativeEdu-Online-Repository)

Write-up of an exhibit intended to bring home the rise in plastic pollution (“we are trying to recalibrate people's reality, but there is room for playfulness, ambiguity, and what we might call scientifically rigorous poetic license”) (https://www.iftf.org/future-now/article-detail/our-plastic-century/)

The Creatures Project: “Creative practices have already shown transformational potential in the area of social cohesion and environmental citizenship, but they are often fragmented, poorly resourced and badly understood. The CreaTures project (Creative Practices for Transformational Futures) demonstrates the power of existing – yet often hidden – creative practices to move the world towards socio-ecological sustainability.” (https://creatures-eu.org/)

UN DPPA and Design Futures Initiative (DFI) “ What new innovative tools could make UN diplomacy and peace processes more effective and sustainable? How might emerging technologies and methods help to prevent armed conflict around the world?” (http://www.futuringpeace.org/speculative-design-peace-artifacts.html)

Discussion on creative futures practice with Ingrid LaFleur (curator, artist, activist, and Afrofuturist), Anab Jain (Superflux), Tim Maughan (SF author and journalist), Jorge Camacho (strategic designer) and Liam Young (speculative architect) )https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvPzAWBjb3o)

Are prayers from robots real? (https://theprayer.diemutstrebe.com/)

Day three

The key things to look at, alongside the videos from Richard and Katie, are: 
-    the overview of the Verge/EFF framework
-    the outline of sociotechnical imaginaries from Harvard, and
-    the Eshun essay on Afrofuturism

Today's videos:

1) Richard Sandford on social imaginaries
2) Richard Sandford on critical futures
3) Katie Parsons on tall buildings
4) Katie Parsons on the Great West Corridor

Here are some links to background information for Katie’s talk
-    Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
-    Revolutionary Low Rise - Karakusevic Carson Architects
-    New London Architecture: London's Tall Building Survey 2020
-    Historic England Advice Note 4: Tall Buildings

Methods: Three Horizons and Verge

-    An overview of the ‘Verge/EFF’ framework – think of it as an alternative to the STEEP framework we looked at.
-    An introduction to the Three Horizons model, from Kate Raworth
-    A slide show from Bill Sharpe and Graham Leicester on the Three Horizons model

Images of the future and social imaginaries

-    This paper describes an activity exploring different orientations to the future, trying on different images of the future: Hayward, P. & Candy, S. (2017) The Polak Game, Or: Where Do You Stand? Journal of Futures Studies, 22(2), 5-14. Doi: 10.6531/JFS.2017.22(2).A5

-    The notion of a ‘social imaginary’ tends to be found in academic discussion, and writing outside a paywall or library are in short supply. But these two short texts from the Harvard Sociotechnical Imaginaries Project describe the idea of sociotechnical imaginaries in straightforward language: http://sts.hks.harvard.edu/research/platforms/imaginaries/, http://sts.hks.harvard.edu/research/platforms/imaginaries/imaginaries-faqs/

If you have library access or can otherwise track these down, these three books are central to the development of the idea in sociology and related fields (though they offer quite different takes on the concept)
-    Jasanoff, S. & Kim, S-Y. (eds.) (2015) Dreamscapes of Modernity: Sociotechnical Imaginaries and the Fabrication of Power. University of Chicago Press
-    Taylor, C. (2003) Modern Social Imaginaries. Duke University Press
-    Castoriadis, C. (1975/1997) The Imaginary Institution of Society. MIT Press

Critical futures and decolonising futures thinking

-    A curriculum on race from colleagues in the Bartlett: all worth reading but particularly page 26 on Speculative Futures. Zewolde, S., Walls A., Sengupta, T., Ortiz, C., Beebeejaun, Y., Burridge, G. and K. Patel (2020), ‘Race’ and Space: What is ‘race’ doing in a nice field like the built environment? London: The Bartlett, UCL Faculty of the Built Environment
-    Pupul Bisht’s Master’s thesis on non-Western storytelling
-    Ziauddin Sardar’s Rescuing All Our Futures, on decolonising futures practice (part one and part two
-    Kodwo Eshun, ‘Further Considerations on Afrofuturism’
-    Comprehensive Afrofuturist reading list from Florence Okoye on How We Get To Next
-    Initiative for Indigenous Futures
-    Roundtable discussion of Native American science fiction 

Day two

This reading contains examples of scenarios in action, examples of corporate groups presentation of scenario thinking, some connections between scenarios and public policy, guides and background from practitioners, and some historical context.

The key things to engage with are:

  • The videos
  • The Local Trust scenarios
  • The Shell video
  • The RSA report
  • The guide to scenarios in the UK GO-Science toolkit (p. 51)

Video from Richard, setting scenarios in context and outlining the activity

Adam Single - on anticipating future heritage for policy and planning groups

Some examples of recent scenarios

Two examples of corporate groups explaining their use of scenarios

Strategic foresight and science advice in public policy

The RSAs recent report on the importance of foresight within policy

Guides and reflections on scenario methods.

Some historical context.

Day 1 (Monday 9th November): what matters?

This material is for during the independent study time during the short course. At a minimum, you should try to watch the videos. If you have time, I recommend Shannon Mattern’s essay on care in the additional reading section. The final list of trends will be useful to you after lunch for the second group task. 

1) Introduction - Richard Sandford

2) What is Heritage? - Keith Emerick

 3) Castleford - Keith Emerick

This is a link to a Castleford Heritage Trust video, talking about who they are, what they do and why.

playlist of videos on Bootham Crescent from Historic England.

As you look through them, have a think about the way place and identity appear, how memory can take on material form, and about loss and the opportunity to make new heritage.

Additional Reading

Here are some posts from Keith Emerick on heritage and value:

The Faro Convention 2005 (or the Council of Europe’s Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society) recognises that the significance of cultural heritage lies in the meanings we attach to it and the values we see it representing, find out more from the Council of Europe’s website 

Historic England translated a report from the Swedish National Heritage Board on the Faro Convention into English, recommending ratification (the UK is not a signatory).

Historic England have set out 'Conservation Principles, Policies and Guidance'

On care, maintenance and stewardship:

  • Rich essay from Shannon Mattern exploring the politics and ethics of maintenance, and asking critical questions about what it is that we maintain, and who is in a position to care. Shannon Mattern, “Maintenance and Care,” Places Journal, November 2018. Accessed 05 Nov 2020. https://doi.org/10.22269/181120 
  •  Madeleine Clare Elish and Elizabeth Anne Watkins from Data & Society describe the unseen repair and maintenance work that is necessary for the technological futures of AI to be realised: Sepsis Watch in Practice
  •  “When systems are built to last for decades, we often don’t see the disaster unfolding until the people who cared for those systems have been gone for quite some time. The blessing and the curse of good infrastructure is that when it works, it is invisible: which means that too often, we don’t devote much care to it until it collapses.” Mar Hicks on perceived technological obsolescence and how ideas of innovation in article Built to Last

Two books I recommend tracking down if you’re interested in following up ideas about care, maintenance, and how the world around us reflects deep assumptions about whose needs and abilities matter:

Some other relevant future-oriented work connected to public policy:

Collections of trends to get you started with the final task:

For people who like technology, dashboards and visualisations:

Finally, some advice on trend scanning: