Collaborative Future Making: Critical Imagination and Worldly Engagements

23 October 2018 | The Collaborative Future Making network has been granted status as a so-called research platform at the Faculty of Culture and Society, Malmö University. Please see “Två nya forskningsplattformar at KS.”

The Collaborative Future Making network (previously known as Alternative Future Making) addresses the crisis of democracy in the face of the multiple crises of our age. It will do so through refining participatory processes in which alternative futures can be articulated and debated. The network has almost thirty members from four faculties at Malmö University who share a specific interest in interdisciplinarity and in the integration of conceptualization, critique and practice.

The network is coordinated by Per-Anders Hillgren, School of Arts and Communication, Malmö University. The 2017–2018 activities, such as seminars and workshops, are organized in collaboration with Medea. Contact Per-Anders Hillgren if you want to participate.

Use to send emails to all participants in this network.

2018 events:

Fall 2017 events:

  • Workshop 2 (documentation), August 21 at 9–16 (location: the K3 studio on floor 5, NIC:0541). We will elaborate on Bubble 1 (Democratic Figurations, Co-Production, Living Labs, Governance networks, etc.). This will include short presentations from Margareta Rämgård on Living Labs for health promotion, Kristina Lindström on Patch-work, Anna Seravalli on Commoning, Staffan Schmidt on Commons, Michael Strange on Civil society and Governance networks, Per-Anders Hillgren on Infrastructuring/ANT etc., Bo Reimer on the Problem of predictions (of general relevance beyond Bubble 1).
  • Seminar Tuesday October 3 at 9–11, discuss text drafts and structure from Padlet. Location: The K3 studio on floor 5, NIC:0541
  • Seminar Tuesday October 17 at 10–12, Ann Light on “Doing Futures Now.” Location: The K3 studio on floor 5, NIC:0541
  • Seminar Tuesday October 24 at 9–11, discuss collaborative projects. Location: The K3 studio on floor 5, NIC:0541
  • Probably 31 October 30 September: Closing the process and decide on focuses and key areas.
  • Seminar Monday November 13 at 9–11, Heterodox Economies. Location: The K3 studio on floor 5, NIC:0541
  • Seminar Tuesday December 5 at 13–15, World Café on projects. Location: The K3 studio on floor 5, NIC:0541
  • Workshop Monday December 11 Full day (drop-in format) Yanki Lee Design for our “future selves”. Location: Bottom floor public area. Follow up lunch meeting with Yanki Lee December 12 Location: The K3 studio on floor 5, NIC:0541
  • November to January 2018 will be devoted to writing the application.

Spring 2017 events (incl. documentation):

  • Workshop 1 (documentation), June 13 at 9–16 (location: the K3 studio on floor 5, NIC:0541). In the morning, we will have a discussion on “Bubble 3”: Fiction, history, imagination, S.F. (x3) speculative fabulations, science fiction, speculative fiction, science-fact, etc, with presentations from Anders Emilson, Per Linde, Kristina Lindström, Magnus Nilsson, Petra Ragnerstam and Michael Strange. During the afternoon we will elaborate further on the Bubbles/Themes in the padlet.
  • Seminar 2 (documentation), May 15 at 10–12 (location: NI:A0506)  Theme: “Collaborative resilience” with short presentations from Suzan Boztepe, Carin Cuadra and Anders Emilson.
  • Seminar 1 (documentation), April 19 at 13–15 (location: NI:A0506)
  • Network kick-off (documentation), March 17 at 9–12. Location: the K3 studio on floor 5, NIC0541 (changed from NIC0929). See also Per-Anders Hillgren’s introduction slides.

To access the documentation, make sure you are logged in to Box.


The same password is used to access all three of these padlets. See email from Per-Anders Hillgren dated 28 August 2017.


These are some of the books and articles that have been mentioned in seminars and workshops:

Network participants

(Faculty affiliation: HS = Health and Society; KS = Culture and Society; LS = Education and Society; TS = Technology and Society)

Åsa Alftberg, HS
Sara Bjärstorp, KS
Carin Björngren Cuadra, HS
Suzan Boztepe, TS
Jonas Christensen, HS
Ragnhild Claesson, KS
Anders Emilson, KS
Maria Hellström Reimer, KS
Per-Anders Hillgren, KS
Malin Ideland LS
Anna Jober LS
Asko Kauppinen, KS
Susan Kozel, KS
Per Linde, KS
Kristina Lindström, KS
Margareta Melin, KS
Elisabet Nilsson, KS
Magnus Nilsson, KS
Pernilla Ouis, HS
Charlotte Petersson, KS
Pille Pruulmann Vengerfeldt, KS
Petra Ragnerstam, KS
Bo Reimer, KS
Staffan Schmidt, KS
Anna Seravalli, KS
Ulrika Sjöberg, KS
Alicia Smedberg, KS
Michael Strange, KS
Michelle Westerlaken, KS
Jenny Wiik, KS

The network in more detail

At Malmö University’s ”Bildningsbaren” in November 2016, comics artist Sara Granér argued that the political parties have failed one of their most important tasks: to construct images of a better future. Without compelling visions of alternative futures it will be hard to address the multiple crises and risks of our time (Giddens 2009), risks such as flux of migration, climate change, income and health disparity, rampant nationalism, unsustainable economic development, persistent gender and racial inequality, and global health crises. The political imaginary will become dominated by outdated economical-political models or populist dreams.

The Alternative Future-Making network addresses the crisis of democracy in the face of the multiple crises of our age. It will do so through refining participatory processes in which alternative futures can be articulated and debated.

The need to generate participatory processes for alternative future-making is grounded in significant existing academic research across a range of disciplines. Environmental scientists Gerst, Raskin and Rockström (2013) argue that humanity today faces a double challenge in how to support equitable human development while at the same time preserving the bio-physical integrity of Earth systems. Building upon scenarios created by the Global Scenario Group they outline two very different paths for human development: (1) Conventional Development and (2) Great Transition. Conventional Development supports sustainability through policy reform and traditional technology-driven development without any significant changes in the basic institutional elements and value systems, while Great Transition builds on a fundamental reassessment and change of lifestyle, values, and what is considered to be human wellbeing.

The network takes its point of departure in the Conventional Development/Great Transition distinction, without ignoring or denying that risks and compelling visions will be found within both these paths, and thus view both paths critically and constructively. We will also argue that both of them must be connected to democratic public discussions regarding possible paths, values and choices (Emilson 2015). This is in itself a difficult task, not at least regarding present tensions between sustainable development and democracy (Lafferty 2012; Tainter 2006; Ward 2012). Furthermore, we argue that the scope, scale and extremity of the current crises means that discussions, visions and actions have to happen now (Klein 2014). “Small steps will no longer get us to where we need to go. So we need to leap … We now have a rare moment to look at what we have become – and decide to change.” (The Leap Manifesto)

Methodological and critical starting points
The network will focus on exploring emerging practices, publics and new forms of expressions. The latter will be both studied and used. Our action-oriented perspective will also lead to our research participating in the formation of new publics. Research methodologies will range from collaborative practices such as co-design and action-research, to reflective practices of critique and hermeneutics, to embodied methods expanding phenomenology, feminism and performativity. The strength of the group of researchers is that we combine critical/theoretical practices with practical work: in short all of us combine theory and practice in various ways, in collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders.

The research questions addressed are within the following areas:

  1. Evaluating and articulating risks relating to Conventional Development.
  2. Elaborating and articulating alternative compelling visions of a better future based on a leap towards the Great Transition.
  3. Exploring forms for debating these articulations.

Emilson, A. (2015). “Design in the space between stories: Design for social innovation and sustainability – from responding to societal challenges to preparing for societal collapse.” PhD diss., Malmö University.

Gerst, M. D., Raskin, P. D., & Rockström, J. (2013). “Contours of a resilient global future”. Sustainability, 6(1), 123-135.

Giddens, A. (2009). The politics of climate change. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Klein, Naomi (2015). This changes everything: Capitalism versus the climate. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Lafferty, W (2012). “Governance for sustainable development. The impasse of dysfunctional democracy” in Meadowcroft J, Langhelle O and Ruud A (eds.): Governance, democracy and sustainable development: moving beyond the impasse. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Tainter, J. A. (2006). “Social complexity and sustainability”. Ecological complexity, 3(2), 91-103.

The Leap Manifesto

Thrift, Nigel and Ash Amin (2013). Arts of the Political. Duke University Press.

Ward, H. (2012). The future of democracy in the face of climate change. London: Foundation for democracy and sustainable development.

Page last updated on 12 December 2018.