The futures of agency
Exploring the liminal spaces between action and responsibility

Performative Postnormal Times (PNT), v3: A Workshop Session for Empowering Futures

Since Sardar welcomed us to Postnormal Times in 2010, researchers have
refined the concepts (Jones, Serra del Pino, & Mayo) and described
postnormal phenomena (Van Leemput, Jones, & Hyokki; Schultz).
Postnormal change is essentially liminal: it is an open space of emergent
action, holding no answers. It carves lenses for focusing our attention, for
crafting tools and approaches, for generating new questions.
We will curate an interactive, experiential session to explore postnormal
theory and its key concepts – e.g., chaos, complexity, contradictions – via a
planning simulation. This simulation will illustrate postnormal emergence in
relation to specific planning choices by introducing disruptive events (i.e.,
drought, floods). The activity will begin with a community planning exercise
focused on supply and use of water through 2045 in an arid region. Each
participant will enact a character/stakeholder (eg, industrialist, park
manager, mayor, resident, co-op board member, farmer, power utility
director, indigenous leader, wolvesʻ advocate). Workshop facilitators will
introduce disruptive events to simulate postnormal potentialities.
Participants will debriefed their experience with a “scavenger hunt” to
articulate the elements of PNT analysis and consider the futures
implications of their groupʻs emergent scenario. The session will provide a
unique opportunity for participants to probe the relationships and
interactions between the core concepts and characteristics of PNT. This
creative, generative approach enacts the openness of the postnormal
solutions space. It also develops the abstract ideas from our theory as lived
elements of change and demonstrates their place in the foresight toolkit.