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Democratised Future Visioning

Elke van Dael, Dan Lockton

The ‘Futuring’ theme embraces this project because the research is about how to engage people in the practice of imagining the future. The probe designed for this research encourages people to envision a future where their personal values are represented, and to have deliberate discussions on what steps need to be taken to achieve that future. How can a democratised futuring exercise guide people to visioning?

Social imagination, the collective capacity to imagine a societal future, is essential to transform human governance and effectively address wicked problems communities are facing.

With a research-through-design approach, a probe called the ‘Mystery Box’ has been created to evaluate methods that make imagining the future more approachable for citizens. The Mystery Box uses the element of surprise and metaphors, which stimulate collaboration and visual expression. It is a value-based approach that enables anyone to imagine a future based on their personal values.

The goal of the project is to empower citizens with social imagination and to stimulate being future-oriented with the complexity of society in mind. When social imagination is deployed in a deliberative democracy, social innovation can purposefully ignite societal transformation.

Please note that the video is not a summary of the project. Instead, the video is part of the research probe. Concretely it is a thought exercise, the starting point of the Mystery Box experience. It places the viewers in the future and lets them look back on the present (while using the metaphor of a rearview mirror).

“The visual expression creates a shared vocabulary for imagining a future collectively.”
“The Mystery Box encourages curiosity.”
“This particular outcome and the richness of it would have been impossible without the interaction.”