University of Technology Sydney

81521 Envisioning Futures

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2021 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Creative Intelligence and Innovation: Transdisciplinary Innovation
Credit points: 6 cp
Result type: Grade and marks

Requisite(s): 40 credit points of completed study in spk(s): STM90839 Core subjects (Creative Intelligence and Innovation)
There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.


This subject invites students to explore emerging cutting-edge ideas, existing foresight practices and future scenarios and encourages them to articulate original, well-informed future visions. Students engage in critical inquiry, examining assumptions that underpin contemporary innovation and research agendas to identify preferable future trajectories from a range of perspectives. Students are challenged to explore the generative nature of innovation, inspiration and learning in the context of imagined future worlds. The subject exposes students to a range of engagement modes, encouraging creative and experimental approaches to expression and communication, and culminates in a public event where audiences interact with student-envisioned futures.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:

1. Conduct self-directed and collaborative enquiry to explore future trends in professional and disciplinary fields of research and practice
2. Identify and evaluate significant issues emerging from disciplinary research and industry practice, and articulate their own agency in creating desirable futures
3. Devise a creative and research-informed transdisciplinary vision of a future utilising a range of approaches and methods
4. Experiment across a range of mediums in order to communicate complex ideas to diverse audiences

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject contributes specifically to the development of the following course intended learning outcomes:

  • Generate insights from the creative translation of models and patterns across different systems (CII.1.4)
  • Communicate, explore, network and negotiate in ways that are inclusive of and mine for ideas from diverse disciplines (CII.3.1)
  • Articulate often-complex ideas simply, succinctly and persuasively to a diverse team or audience (CII.3.4)
  • Identify significant issues, challenges or opportunities and assess potential to act creatively on them (CII.4.1)

Contribution to the development of graduate attributes

The subject provides opportunities for you as a student to draw on diverse disciplinary perspectives through self-directed and collaborative enquiry, conducted across a range of disciplinary and professional fields into cutting-edge research and innovation. You identify and evaluate future trends and utilise a range of futuring approaches and methods to design an original transdisciplinary vision of a future. In doing this you examine paradoxes and ethical dilemmas implicit in current innovation agendas and practices and articulate their own agency in creating desirable futures. Finally, the subject challenges you to experiment with expressing and communicating complex ideas via a public event, where audiences interact with a student-envisioned future.

So your experiences as a student in this subject support you to develop the following graduate attributes (GA):

• GA 1 Complex systems thinking

• GA 3 Inter- and trans-disciplinary practices

• GA 4 Imaginative and ethical citizenship

Teaching and learning strategies

Learning will take place in a collaborative, immersive, experiential, studio-based environment. This subject is enquiry-based: students will conduct individual preparatory research and exploration, which will form the basis for collaborative discovery and interactive learning activities in class. Students will also learn from academics, invited industry professionals and peers across a wide range of disciplines. Staff, peers and invited experts will give formative feedback continually through class activities as students develop their future-oriented projects.

Content (topics)

  • Futures thinking – concepts, frameworks and methods
  • Multi-scalar spatiotemporal dimensions of the present
  • Experimentation with different media and modes of engagement


Assessment task 1: Creative Horizon Scanning


This assessment task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 3 and 4

This assessment task contributes to the development of course intended learning outcome(s):

CII.1.4, CII.3.1 and CII.3.4

Type: Report
Groupwork: Group, individually assessed
Weight: 30%

1800 words

Assessment task 2: Experiential Futures


This assessment task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

2, 3 and 4

This assessment task contributes to the development of course intended learning outcome(s):

CII.1.4, CII.3.4 and CII.4.1

Type: Project
Groupwork: Group, group assessed
Weight: 30%

Assessment task 3: Playable Futures


This assessment task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 2 and 3

This assessment task contributes to the development of course intended learning outcome(s):

CII.3.1, CII.3.4 and CII.4.1

Type: Portfolio
Groupwork: Group, individually assessed
Weight: 40%

Minimum requirements

Students must attempt each assessment task and achieve an overall pass mark in order to pass this subject.

Late penalties apply to all assessment tasks as outlined in the FTDi FYI student booklet. Please consult this booklet for other useful information including Special Consideration, Plagiarism, Extension, and Student Support Services.

A minimum of 80% of attendance of classes (as outlined in the timetable) is required.

Recommended texts

Bergman, R. (2017). Utopia for realists: how we can build the ideal world. NY Little Brown and Company: New York.

Brown, W. (2015). Undoing the demos : neoliberalism's stealth revolution. New York Zone Books: Brooklyn.
(Available as an e-book through UTS Library)

Casti, J.L. (2012). X-events : the collapse of everything. William Morrow: New York.

Chakrabarty, D. (2009). The climate of history: Four theses. Critical inquiry, 35(2), 197-222.

Diamandis, P. (2012). Abundance : the future is better than you think. Free Press: New York.

Dunne, A. & Raby, F (2013). Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming. The MIT Press: Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Available as an e-book through UTS Library)

Ghosh, A. (2016). The great derangement: Climate change and the unthinkable. University of Chicago Press.

Hamilton, C. (2017). Defiant earth: the fate of humans in the Anthropocene. John Wiley & Sons.

Harrari, Y. (2014). Homo Sapiens : A Brief History of Humankind. Harvill Secker: London.
Chapter 20. The end of homo sapiens(through UTS Library)

Harrari, Y. (2016). Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. Harvill Secker: London.
Chapter 1. The New Human Agenda (through UTS Library)

Irwin, T. (2015). Transition design: A proposal for a new area of design practice, study, and research. Design and Culture, 7(2), 229-246.

Kaplan, J. (2015). Humans need not apply: a guide to wealth and work in the age of artificial intelligence. New Haven : Yale University Press.

Klein, N. (2014). This changes everything: capitalism vs. the climate. Simon & Schuster: New York.

Kolbert, E. (2014). The sixth extinction: An unnatural history. A&C Black.

Latour, B. (2012). Love Your Monsters: Why We Must Care for Our Technologies As We Do Our Children. The Breakthrough Journal, Winter 2012.

Leadbeater, C. (1999). Living on Thin Air: The New Economy. Penguin: London.

Mason, P. (2016). PostCapitalism: A Guide to Our Future. Penguin: New York.
Chapter 10. Project Zero (through UTS Library)

Massey, D. (2006). Landscape as a provocation: Reflections on moving mountains. Journal of material culture, 11(1-2), 33-48.

McNeill, J. R., & Engelke, P. (2016). The great acceleration. Harvard University Press.

Morton, T. (2017). Humankind : solidarity with nonhuman people. Verso Books: Brooklyn (Available as an e-book through UTS Library)

Rifkin, J. (2015). The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism. Palgrave Macmillan: New York.

Rushkoff, D. (2016) Throwing rocks at the Google bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity. Penguin: New York.
Chapter 1. Removing humans from the equation (through UTS Library)

Stengers, I. (2015). In catastrophic times: Resisting the coming barbarism (p. 156). Open Humanities Press and meson press.