The aim is to build a network of researchers with an interest in how people imagine and write about the future. Drawing on Max Saunders’s work in Imagined Futures (OUP, 2019), a study of the pioneering To-Day and To-Morrow series of over 100 short books (1923-31) predicting the futures of a range of topics and disciplines, and of its implications for thinking about the future, the project we are developing focuses on contemporary methodologies for conceiving the future – i.e. scenario planning, forecasting, horizon scanning, big data analysis – compared with such earlier precedents.
The session would be run as an adaptable combination of pop-up workshop and salon – in a venue such as the Henry Royce Institute/Alan Turing Building (if possible). We shall outline our current project, and invite participants to share the ways in which their work engages with the future, whether in (for example) utopias, predictions, science fiction, prophecies, manifestoes, political or cultural programmes, science and technology studies, etc.
The project is concerned with new ways in which the Arts and Humanities might contribute to multi-disciplinary research, and help change the conversation about future possibilities. It is thus an experiment in ‘applied’ English: how the production of ‘speculative non-fiction’, and critical thinking about it and about other futurological methods can lead to positive changes in the world beyond universities in order to address local, national and global challenges.