The futures of futures studies
Pushing the boundaries of futures thinking
26 October 2023 (Thursday), 10:00-11:00, imagine2

A Step Towards Decolonising Futures Literacy with Object Inspired Thinking

This presentation discusses the nexus of object inspired thinking (Kador and Chatterjee 2021) and futures literacy (Miller 2018; Lopez-Galviz & Spiers 2021) in the highly innovative curriculum of “Arts Discovery – New Futures”, a compulsory subject for students entering the Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Melbourne. By embedding objects such as cultural materials, everyday objects, and works of art in formal learning opportunities we aim to support the development of transferable skills such as visual, digital and futures literacies. This active learning model also champions the advancement of other competencies such as observation and listening, creative and critical thinking, teamwork and peer connections, and empathy (Freedberg & Gallese 2007; Lanzoni 2018).
“Arts Discovery – New Futures” makes a step towards decolonising futures literacy via object inspired thinking. Working with a diverse cohort of up to 2500 students per year, including many high-achieving international students from China, India, Indonesia, and the Pacific, as well as Australia’s multicultural and Indigenous students, the subject provides tools and fora for challenging western-centric models of learning and teaching futures literacy (Pirbhai-Illich, Pete & Martin 2017; Jennische & Sörbom 2022; Facer & Sriprakash 2021). Introducing Indigenous cultural products as objects to inspire New Futures demands conceptual thinking and creative problem solving, informed by close reading and participation in rigorous discussion and debate about decolonising New Futures (Grieves 2020).
Through examples of students’ collaborative project outcomes and reflections, we will demonstrate that such objects can bypass cultural biases and dominant positionalities that scenario-based projections may reinforce.

Head of Arts Discovery and Professor of French Studies
University of Melbourne
Object Based Learning Coordinator and Lecturer in the History of Art
University of Melbourne