*Please note: Other projects are being included in this new site during 2019 fall.
Project Name: Masters Research- Inclusive and Plural Futures: a way forward
Client/Sponsor: Completed to receive my Master in Design, Strategic Foresight and Innovation at OCAD University (Toronto, Canada)
Date: January – April 2019
Author and Researcher: Prateeksha Singh;
Interviewed Experts- Dr. Jim Dator, Dr. Sheila Ochugboju, Dr. Ziauddin Sardar, Dr Cindy Frewen, Dr. Arianna Mazzeo, Skawennati Tricia Fragnito, Tanja Hichert, Aarathi Krishnan, John Thackara, LeKesha Lewis, K.J. Joy, Daniel Riveong, Frank Spencer;
Research Advisors: Dr. Ian Clarke, and Suzanne Stein
The Foresight/Futures community is not yet leading the charge to engage, include, and reflect underrepresented groups who have remained historically excluded from Futures conversations in the past (groups such as Women, People of Colour, Black, Indigenous, Youth, LGBTQ, cultural and religious minorities, varying socio-economic groups, communities in more fragile states, persons with disabilities, etc.).
Given that the possible futures ahead belong to everyone, and in this critical juncture of time in our society, where polarization and power struggles abound, and the hegemonic Western ideas and ideals seem fractured, it feels even more critical we seek these plural and inclusive images of the future as a way forward. The field of Futures Studies, however, is foregrounded by its own Western cultural and epistemological heterogeneity with much of the geographic focus of the fields work and its practitioners thus far, skewing heavily to the global North.
In combining research with expert interviews, this research study takes a temporal lens, of past-present-future, to understanding the Western influence on the field, and makes a case for why the field needs to transition to being more inclusive, both for its own ongoing relevance and potential social impact.
In offering a possible way forward, the study the draws from these insights, broader transdisciplinary research, and my own experiences in the field and proposes the first static draft of an inclusive futures framework called Lotus. The framework, inspired by the Lotus flower, is intended to be dynamic and interactive and created to guide practitioners (old and new) who want to design an inclusive futures program. It aims to challenge pre-existing systems of privilege that practitioners might be unintentionally taking with them into their work, having them reflect on themselves and their practice. The framework aims to push practitioners in the field to reflect on and create opportunities for: axiological (how we prescribe value/worth), epistemological (how we conceive, transfer, validate knowledge), ontological (what we consider a part of the field) and methodological (how we engage with our concepts) plurality.
The goal being to generate futures with our broader community that are inclusive, plural, anti-colonial and culturally sensitive. While the field cannot become inclusive and representative overnight, it can become a better ally in the process, and it is to support in this transition that the framework seeks its utility.
On a academic note, I have also designed the framework to challenge some pre-existing and accepted notions of how we think of frameworks to begin with (see slide 4 on the attached walkthrough below for additional details).
My role: I am the principal researcher and author of this paper. I have authored all aspects, from the Research Ethics Board application; proposing the research concept; contacting of experts and the conducting, analyzing, synthesizing of interviews; survey design and implementation; to synthesizing and writing the research and creating the Lotus framework. That said, I have been inspired by the works of many, and this is a manifestation of that.
Mpathy Insights: This entire research journey has been such an incredible learning experience for me – about the field, how to do research, how to courageously challenge the normative, and about myself. Also, a humble reminder to have more human-to-human conversations, and to be curiously open to ambiguity and possibilities.
Award: My research has been awarded the 2019 Joseph Jaworski Next Generation Foresight Practitioner Global award by the School of International Futures (SOIF). The award comes with funding to develop the framework, and mentorship and support to help me further develop my practice at large.