Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


Speculative Worlds 2023: Navigating the Omnishambles

28 June 2023–29 June 2023, 9:30 am–6:00 pm

Speculative Worlds 2023

Navigating the Omnishambles: Reimagining Collaborative and Creative Methods as a Mode of Disruptive Innovation

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to

All | UCL staff | UCL students






Will Stewart


UCL East - One Pool Street
1 Pool Street
E20 2AF

Speculative Worlds Research Collective is happy to invite you to join us for a two-day lab exploring how thinking speculatively informs and enhances our research practice. This year’s lab will be held on 28 and 29 June 2023 at UCL East One Pool Street and includes snacks and refreshments, a social dinner at Four Quarters East on the 28th, and lunch on the 29th. Participation is free, but places are limited for this event. We are particularly interested in a diversity of thinking and identity - we welcome participants from a range of contexts and with experiences from around the globe. 

In this lab, we aim to collaboratively explore a place for speculation in our research, practice and the world at large by building channels and pathways to disrupt encumbrances and obstacles, and demonstrate speculative alternatives with which to navigate the perpetual crises – environmental, social, political, technological, economic and legal – we find ourselves mired in globally and locally. Creating tools for imagined navigations, we conjure square pegs that fit round holes in ways that shake our understanding of how this world is working. To navigate the omnishambles, we concoct a new set of productivity and decision-making tools to mismanage the mismanagement with illuminating life skills, pernickety policies, side-stepping strategies and pedantic practices. 

Emerging from this lab, we aim to then use these tools to demonstrate how speculating and re-imagining take on significance and impact the way we move forward in the present – whether it is our design research practice, our academic research and pedagogical practice or our professional practice. 

We are endeavouring to further a research and creative agenda that embraces the potential of speculative thinking. The focus on academic research practice may be our focus given the breadth of experience, knowledge and approach we will have in the room, but we hope the reverberations travel much wider. 

The lab is aimed at Early Career Researchers including Doctoral Researchers and Postgraduate Students – those of us grappling with concepts, frameworks, methodologies, ideas and tools as well as disciplinary expectations about how we work, interact with each other and communicate research. 

As researchers with an interest in imagining the world otherwise, we are advocates of modes of creation and research that bring diverse groups together – to explore speculative thinking, sharing experiences and imagining together. As such, the lab aims to be a collaborative sharing environment commencing with practical provocations to stimulate discussion, alongside small-group making sessions. Each of us as participants has something valuable to bring to the lab and we encourage open sharing in a supportive space. 

For PGRs by PGRs: this lab is aimed at Doctoral Researchers and Post-Graduate Research Students across UCL & its partners. It has been conceived and staged by UCL Doctoral Researchers: Richard Müller and William A Stewart (Dept of Geography) and Richard Sobey (Bartlett Faculty of Built Environment: CASA).

The lab is funded by The UCL Institute of Advanced Studies Octagon Small Grants.