Spring 2016. Semester in Experimental Futures
Full-time, 15 credits (DIAL 390W, 391W, 392W)
“Experimental Futures” will explore the intersections of the environment (nature), politics (culture) and the role of the arts and dialogue to rethink and imagine new environmental and political associations and attitudes. Climate change and environmental degradation are rapidly increasing around the world, disproportionately impacting the globe’s most vulnerable. The intersection of culture, language, and ways of being are pushing us all to rethink how we consider, live among, and interact with each other.
We are bombarded with information in this digital age while struggling to find the meaning within it. Profound cultural changes are afoot and clearly needed in this newly named epoch the Anthropocene, compelling us to seek out new and substantially different solutions, shifting how we collectively engage one another. We will use the arts and dialogue as guides to explore building new relationships between people, places, and institutions while enunciating with clarity and impact the communities we seek for the future.
Focal questions may include:
How can we imagine new disruptive interventions, new models of engagement, collaboration, and governance, even new economic systems?
How can these new ideas be brought to the forefront as we try to bridge that gap between the old way of being in the world with novel ideals and policies for the future?
How do we articulate new progress while honouring powerful and important histories?
What role do the arts and dialogue play in locating and responding to these challenges?
What might relationships between the technological, ecological, and political become in light of these changes and possibilities?
We will explore these questions at various personal, local, regional, and global levels of scale, but focus our work at the local level to facilitate seeking vital responses to the challenges of political, ecological, and cultural issues faced in our immediate communities.
Possible questions might include:
What are the implications of the Anthropocene on the future of the greenest city?
How are the arts understood in the Lower Mainland and what role are they currently playing as disruptive and imaginative forces?
How does this kind of cultural work gain traction in our communities? What is the future of public spaces in the politics of the local?
What role do public movements and changing definitions of the social play in responding to the growing environmental crisis?
Where and how can emergent voices intervene, participate and shape these conversations?
This course will explore these and related themes through dialogues with thought leaders from across the spectrum of the arts, politics, environment and social change. You’ll be exposed to cinema, fiction, art projects and interventions, theoretical writings, case studies and on-the-ground projects with guest thought leaders, attend public events and organize participatory public programming to develop richer, more nuanced understandings of the challenges and possibilities of the future. You will be challenged to develop practices, ways of being, and the skills needed to play active roles as citizens, innovators (experimental imaginers), and collaborators in this new and changing world. This is about the creative imaginings at the intersection between nature and culture.
- Course runs Monday thru Friday, 10:00-4:00, January 5 - April 11
- 15 credits (Dial 390W, 391W, 392W)
Sean Blenkinsop is an Associate Professor in the SFU Faculty of Education with a secondment for five years to the Semester in Dialogue.
Am Johal is the Director of SFU's Vancouver Office of Community Engagement in the SFU Woodward's Cultural Unit.
Melora Koepke is a Vancouver-based journalist, urban geographer-in-training and teacher. Her research work focuses on the processes and practices of food and food security, on scales ranging from local to global, and explores how food is and can become a medium for change in the world and a link between human and natural ecologies.
Leah Wiener is a history PhD candidate at SFU. Her research examines the development of health policies pertaining to Ontario's Aboriginal children in the first half of the twentieth century. She also has keen interests in the pasts, presents, and futures of gender, childhood, health, and colonialism more broadly.