In January 2021, ESCP and OnePoint launched a new elective course entitled "Design Fiction for Sustainable Futures" as part of the Circular Economy Chair.
This 30-hour elective course allowed 40 MIM students to work with renowned futurists and designers to explore the future of oceans in the context of sustainability-oriented design projects.
Prof. Aurélien Acquier, Scientific co-Director of the Circular Economy Chair and Associate Dean for Sustainability explains: “ESCP Business School has adopted an ambitious sustainability strategy, in particular through its educational missions, scaling-up sustainability ambitions within the ESCP curriculum. This course is perfectly aligned, supporting the sustainable transition of the school and building awareness among its students.”
What is design fiction?
Among different prospective oriented approaches, Design fiction is increasingly used by organizations to apprehend, model and test their possible futures. By imagining the world's evolutions in 15 or 20 years and materializing them into fiction related artefacts (videos, newspapers, short novels…).
Prof. Valentina Carbone, Scientific co-Director of the Circular Economy Chair is delighted to have this new course extending our portfolio in sustainability: “A great enhancement to students' skills! Prospective design is emerging as a key methodological discipline in the field of strategy, renewing current approaches to risk management and innovation. This is why developing prospective design capabilities can represent a real strategic asset for companies to shift towards sustainable business models.”
“Design fiction for sustainable futures helps understanding the current and future environmental challenges, the Design Fiction approach helps understanding and shaping multiple possible futures in order to design tomorrow’s products, services and business models in a constantly changing world”, pointed out Martin Lauquin, co-founder of the collective “Making tomorrow” and Creative Strategist at Onepoint.
A course on the future of oceans
The global climate crisis is a constant reminder that our planet is a closed, limited system, and that we are currently living far beyond its boundaries. What would our world look like if we actually respected and lived within our planetary boundaries? How would we
organise our homes, communities, cities, and nations? To what extent can companies and brands trigger positive action and inspire changes in lifestyle, consumption and ways of working to promote the ecological transition around the world? How can we consume smarter and protect our most precious resource? Water is the source of life. Yet, this inestimable treasure is being polluted by the way we consume.
The first edition of this program is aimed at designing future scenarios related to uncertain outcome: biodiversity, marine science and technology, the possible collapse of ice sheets, the formation of deep-sea dead zones as a result of onshore pollution, etc.
Crafting new imaginaries for sustainability
As part of this program, students have the opportunity to work in contact with futurists and designers in order to explore, experiment and create desirable futures, in the context of future-oriented design projects.
The course was developed by Professors Aurélien Acquier, Valentina Carbone and Martin Lauquin.
They also wrote an Impact Paper “Crafting new imaginaries for sustainability? What design fiction can bring to sustainability education”, one of the 54 contributions to the just released “Better Business: Creating Sustainable Value” e-book.
To address sustainability challenges through the Design Fiction perspective, ten lecturers and experts were involved to provide students with an ability to engage with diverse temporalities and perceptions at different scales (individual, organisational and societal); to research, understand and synthesise insights from diverse disciplines; to be critical about unquestioned assumptions; to detect key ethical and cultural dimensions of our era and society; to be constructive by using various media to convey and stimulate longer-term visions of the future, and to be able to raise questions for today models and behaviour.
The lecturers were very helpful with providing students with insightful inputs about:
Linking design fiction to sustainability: the importance of new imaginaries to coconstruct the transition towards a sustainable future
Framing the prospective question
Confronting with experts and choosing the most structuring themes for the future
Defining scenarios and possible worlds
Generating solutions in response to challenges
Prototyping to stage the answers to the challenges of our possible futures, to project them in a semi-realistic framework, in order to trigger action for future and favor debates on the present
On March 30, during the 9th and final module, students got the opportunity to meet François GAILL, Emeritus Director of research in CNRS, in charge of the scientific board of the Ocean & Climate plateform to discuss “Oceans 2100”. The 5 students’ groups were asked to present their work to a Jury gathering:
- Think Tank about the future of oceans
- Finistère 360
- Les ECHOS
As an example, Design fiction “Nova Atlantida” explores new horizons in the world of the underwater living. Sea-levels rose to unlivable heights and forced air breathers and land creatures to change their ways of life forever. Scientists and industrials joined forces and created a world that would allow the human species to prosper, rather than drown. This Alliance went to extreme lengths to reverse climate change and restore a habitable planet that had not been seen since before the age of industrialization.
Warm thanks to Martin LAUQUIN – Creative Strategist, Expert on Design Fiction and strategic thinking, Claire MARCHIVE – associate specialized in Foresight methodologies, Nicolas MINVIELLE– Professor of design and strategy at Audencia Business School since 2008. He is working closely with scientific and military experts to imagine the threats of tomorrow as part of the RED TEAM, Andrew MERRIE – Researcher at the Stockholm Resilience Centre. Coordinator of Radical Ocean Futures, Adrien RIVIERRE – Recognised expert in public speaking and storytelling, Dr. Cécile WENDLING – Group Head of Foresight at AXA, Samuel BERNIER – Designer and expert in manufacturing techniques, Olivier WATHELET – Expert in anthropology and design fiction…