Independent Study at The Rhode Island School Of Design: Eco-Futures

Stemming from both secular theorists and religions, many cultural narratives have existed for so long that they become unknowingly woven into people’s assumptions, values, biases, and beliefs. It’s 2020 — the wealth gap widens, and we are almost at our planetary limits, but simultaneously, positive cultural revolutions are occurring, such as the Black Lives Matter movement. COVID-19 has made us all aware of how much society relies on social and industrial systems to function. These systems were all designed in ways that greatly benefit some and but leave others at a disadvantage. We rely on access to products, on our global supply and demand networks. Not siloed, almost every market has suffered a massive shock from the pandemic and are now rebuilding. This rebuilding offers an unparalleled opportunity to regenerate markets and norms in equitable ways. Society is partially run by global economies, and many of our world’s ills are due to capitalism, so as a design student, the effects of COVID-19 allow for the opportunity to explore new world-building strategies through the use of diegetic prototypes. Diegetic prototypes, or tangible and intangible objects which make visible and thinkable the speculative futures they hope to create, are a sort of fictional narrative of a possible future in the present. As a way to address the narrative and aesthetic urgency of the opportunity such a crisis presents, this Literary Arts & Studies independent study project will allow me to explore manifestations of speculative futures within fictional texts through the lens of the environmental humanities and Anthropocene theory. My explorations will be divided into three chapters: How did we get here? Where are we now? What future will we create?

Design Futures Strategist, Environmentalist, Systems-Thinker