Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


Call for workshop proposals 'Off-world living micro-analogues'

10 June 2022

Call from the UCL Collaborative Social Science Domain (CSSD): Social Science Plus, 'Off-world living micro-analogues: determining their value for the far and near future'. Deadline for proposals: 28 June 2022

person in spacesuit in desert landscape

In May 2022, UCL Space Health Risks Research Group led an analogue space research mission – a simulation of the human exploration of another planet, which was the first of its kind in the UK. Analogue missions provide an opportunity to investigate life in space. Following the success of the pilot mission, this project and call for proposals will consider the role and design of analogues to aid our learning and understanding of how to live off-world.

This project is an exploration of the “micro-analogue” created principally for off-world living and thriving. Some examples of micro-analogues are medical equipment, mood diaries, musical instruments, or a climbing wall for Mars. There are two philosophical motivations – 
1.    To enable a range of social and other scientists, together with the wider public, to appreciate the challenges faced when humans consider or are required to live under environmental conditions substantially outside any standard frame of reference. Whilst initially surviving is a first priority, to live and ultimately thrive in such alien conditions and environments requires substantial alteration in many areas, from setting expectations to use of resources. 
2.    To understand that the science of cultivating wellbeing and living conditions in off- Earth environments offers ripe opportunities to consider how we might thrive and adapt in rapidly changing environments on Earth through processes of climate change, resource limitations and biodiversity reduction. Through exploring what the alternative engagements of living off-world might entail, the project will engage us with analogues to help us think through the various adaptations needed to allow sustainable healthy living on Earth.

This project is designed to bring together UCL’s diverse academic community interested in the challenges of future living under very challenging and radically different conditions to those with which we are familiar, including off-world.

Applications are now open for participants to join a workshop to create a series of micro-analogues that explore this project’s key questions – 
1.    How would the use of various forms of analogue, from the physical to the virtual, help our understanding, appreciation, and communication of what is required for humans to survive, live, and thrive in radical and challenging environments as would be found anywhere off world as well as here on Earth at a time of threat of profound change? 
2.    Using a multi-disciplinary approach, what are novel and creative forms these analogues might take to aid us in meeting this form of challenge?

The call is open to any researchers or students interested in exploring the concept of living and thriving off-world through a micro-analogue; however, we particularly welcome proposals from UCL post-graduates, PhD students, and early-career researchers, and those from underrepresented groups. Successful applicants will be awarded a £200 honorarium to develop their concept or a prototype for exhibition. We are seeking to fund 10 projects or concepts in the first instance. Applicants must be available for an autumn workshop in London to coincide with international space week, date TBC, 0900-1700 GMT.

To apply

Please submit your details along with a 200 word abstract or project proposing your idea for a “micro- analogue” design to Dr Aaron Parkhurst, Department of Anthropology (a.parkhurst@ucl.ac.uk) by the 28th June. Successful participants will be informed by July 6th

If you have any questions, please submit all inquiries to Osnat Katz: osnat.katz.19@ucl.ac.uk, Myles Harris: myles.harris.19@ucl.ac.uk or Aaron Parkhurst: a.parkhurst@ucl.ac.uk

We look forward to seeing your proposals!

Photo by Nicolas Lobos on Unsplash