Spring 2021 - IAT 431 D100

Speculative Design (3)

Class Number: 6682

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 11 – Apr 16, 2021: Thu, 11:30 a.m.–2:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    Completion of 60 units.



Provides students with the opportunity to experiment with designing in various non-normative frameworks provided by cultural studies, critical theory and phenomenology. Students will examine design's potential for cultural, social and ethical critique of emerging technologies and society. Rather than merely illustrating theoretical positions, this examination involves enacting and embodying differing theoretical positions, thereby rendering criticism productive. Individual design expertise and voice is emphasized.


Course Description   Provides students with the opportunity to experiment with design using alternative design perspectives, such as critical design, material speculation, design fiction, and ludic design. The focus is on studying and designing to support real world social change and cultural critique.  Students will examine design’s potential for cultural, social and ethical critique of emerging technologies and society. This examination involves enacting and embodying differing speculative design positions.

Course Objectives   The goal of this course is to develop skills necessary for understanding, interpreting, and thinking about future designs. Students will study the theoretical perspectives of speculative design, methods for creating flexible and innovative designs of the future, and techniques for critiquing culture and design. Lectures will be complemented with hands-on activities in design studios along with assignments aimed at creating conceptual design proposals and future design prototypes.  


Learning Outcomes   Students will be able to:
·         understand, critique and analyze designs from non-typical design perspectives such as material speculation, critical design, ludic design, and design fiction
·         analyze, evaluate, and critically reflect on the design of human-centered solutions with respect to current and emerging design, social and cultural issues
·         design a tangible artifact or digital program from non-typical design perspectives
·         create an exhibition of a final, highly resolved speculative design project to understand and receive critical feedback and cultural understanding by non-designers


  • Individual Assignments 10%
  • Group Projects 90%


Your total course grade will consist of the following percentage breakdown:

10% Individual Assignments
90% Group Projects 

Group projects breakdown as follows:
4 Initial group projects will involve students working on pre-assigned teams. Teams will be assigned to ensure nearly all students have an opportunity to work with each other. The 4 initial group projects collectively add up to 40% of overall total grade. 

The Final project will be worth 50% and students can self-select their teams (with the constraint of having a size per team). 

All team/group assignments must be completed as a group with your respective team members. 

Your TA and Instructor will have final say over who are your group/team members.





This course will require near weekly printing of high-quality posters as well as other material costs (amount dependant on the nature and focus on your 4 intial projects and also your final project).

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).