Educational Units

The main aim of Futures Literacy Methods is to transform and convey FUEL4Design outcomes into learning processes.

Learning Future Literacies Methods concerns both the preparation of a complete Futurist Designer training course and the design of small Independent Learning Units to cross-breed design studios or speculative/theoretical courses. The Units are specifically created to cater to the needs of future literacy and geared to acquire knowledge on anticipatory practice, critical future design and future making through the dedicated tools.

The units presented here are eleven units that include one orientation unit  (Unit 00) and ten educational content Units (Unit 01 to 11). In the first section of the Units booklets, there are a set of “Maps” and paths to help educators in navigating through the eleven Units. These maps are meant to be used as suggestive paths rather than prescriptive ones. The basic concept behind these units is to be independent (yet connected). Educators are free to select the suitable units to their courses, put them together and structure their pedagogical paths based on their needs as well as the context of use .

In each Unit, there is a section for the tools and devices. These are tools and devices developed or assembled during the FUEL4Design project. They play an important role in supporting and facilitating the pedagogical process. Each of these tools or devices is linked to the FUEL4Design website, where you can further read about them.      


This unit provides the foundation for educators to engage in teaching futuredesign literacies. It enables you to deconstruct your prior learning. It challenges you to re-evaluate your teaching practice with a view to reframe the intersection future design literacies.

The subject of this Unit is Teaching- This is about understanding how to create a learning environment where to teach future literacies by actively re-imagining the practices of teaching. What is crucial, therefore, is how to unlearn. The content is centred on facilitating ‘changemakers’ (i.e., your students) to develop the ability to navigate their way through uncertainty and complexity in their future building practice. Through reflecting on your positionality and its influence on your actions, you will be invited to identify spaces for inclusive interventions with the potential to transform peer / student experience.

The Unit is underpinned by the principles of collegiality and active participation. You will share your own knowledge and experience with the group, and give and receive feedback through presentations, discussion, micro-teaching and peer observation in an atmosphere of mutual support and solidarity. This is a space to foster self-criticality in relation to your teaching practice.

This Unit suggests a series of teaching tools and learning activities which are framed through a collaborative, participatory, reflective, hybrid and transdisciplinary ethos.


As a set of social-material design practices, how we go about making and analysing our futures by designing is central to facilitating prospective literacies. They implicate us in the kinds of futures we configure and that we and others live within. The devices and tools we employ thus script, generate and situate short- and longer-term futures: these are ‘lifeworlds’ others may experience and endure without us. This demands attention to ethics, sustainable uses of resources and materials, and modes of participation. Futures methods are not neutral transactions: they construct and position how we may know what we know by how they do what they do and they ways they performatively allow or facilitate design.

Below is an orientation to select futures methods, with disciplinary origins and world views. We include a tool to map dynamics of how we know what we know in shaping futures by designing and unpack methods from Foresight (from Futures Studies and professional ‘futurists’). We indicate ways a in which tools and methods here and across F4D may support learners’ practices of design making together with critical reflective competencies. This includes generative and transformative ways of working imaginatively and questioningly in processes and acts of making futures by design.


The focus is on using language – contextually, critically and productively – to shape and critique how futures design literacies may be realised and enacted. 


Unit 2 aims to clarify relations and practices between the ‘whats and whys’ of how ‘futures’ is shaped and how we have arrived at futures as a plural, diverse and dynamic concept and knowledge domain. This is connected to ways in which language and power relations may be applied to understand these futures and to position our pedagogies and design productions and analyses, pragmatically and in terms of world views. A critical mapping of the futures field is included. 


Central here are ways to work critically with relations between language and power, words and discourse. This is important for how we go about shaping and analysing design futures, as pedagogies and as literacies. It extends to how we may enact and perform these where language is a medium, a material and a marker of the world views and methods in individual and collaborative use. Selected elements of the DESIGN FUTURES LEXICON are taken up to support fluency in an emergent critical ‘languaging’ of futures by design. This involves working with words to frame, position and re-orient our notions and senses of future. In doing this, links are made to the FUTURES PHILOSOPHICAL PILLS. Most of this material is housed in the ACTIVITIES section of this Unit and inside the LEXICON. 


This unit explains the notion of modes of scouting, where gathering, framing, making and enacting are at the center of the process. It explains how designers can identify trends, weak signals – early indicators of change that have the potential to trigger major events in the future – and drivers of change by positioning themselves closer to the researched issues or topics. It enables the relationship between design and scouting. It connects “immersive scouting” with possible design actions. It shows the connections and possibilities, methods, and tools as well as possible outcomes.

The subject of this unit allows the students to explore and be aware of their agency to shape futures possibilities and probabilities. It provides some tools to gather insights about the present and futures and to identify, gather and categorize insights about the futures.


This unit explains first, second and third person perspectives, highlighting the importance of self-reflexivity and self-reflexive activation by building awareness of the interconnected nature of positionality, boundaries and networks. 3rd person perspective relates to gathering information without getting involved, and a 2nd person perspective is about designing with a sample of the target group. In a 1st person perspective, the designer is part of a system within the existing social structures. It enables learners through autoethnographic research to create a personal vision to design for the unknown by means of a reflective and transformative design process.

The content presented will allow students to re-evaluate their approach continuously, helping them to be more aware of their contexts, scales and location within the relevant socio-technical system.


The future can be envisioned in so many ways: as a space of the unknown, as a horizon of potential, as a risk to manage, as a problem to pre-empt. It can be said that this variety of approaches is what drives humanity to a constant search for strategies of inquiring, forecasting, divining, and prophesying. These are, however, always culturally and contextually determined. Powerful narratives circulating in any given society sustain the formation of situated collective imaginaries where society’s hopes, anxieties, fears and aspirations tend to coalesce. Often crystallizing around utopian and dystopian themes, these stories colonize the imagination in ways that can be self-actualizing and, by fostering denial, polarisation and disavowal, acutely disenfranchising. It becomes necessary to counteract this capture of futures by inserting new stories and new configurations of what kind of futures may be possible.

The Philosophical Pills Unit shows how philosophical theories can be deployed to this task. It foregrounds the importance of philosophical concepts to critically interrogate established notions, beliefs and assumptions around the future; it provides strategies to amplify our capacity to imagine, speculate and anticipate different futures; it enables learners to generate ideas for practical implementation that will feed into pragmatic-speculative design propositions.

The Philosophical Pills are philosophy-in-action informing future-building by design.


This unit introduces the concept of scenario generation in Design Futures. It provides Educators with the theoretical basics of scenarios, their aims, and rationale. The unit explains the basic pillars of scenarios reflecting on their impact and readiness for development. The unit is divided into four sections. The first one is defining scenarios as terminology in design futures, the second is the relevance of scenarios to design futures, and the third is the typology of design futures. The last part is the positioning of scenarios within the design process.

This unit is concerned with the theoretical framework of scenarios. While unit 7 “Scenarios’ development” is concerned with Scenarios as a process. This unit answers What and Why Scenarios while unit 7 tackles “How” scenarios.


This unit is concerned with scenario development in design futures. The unit furnishes educators with practical and speculative techniques to develop a plurality of visions through scenarios. It introduces the tools to understand how to implement, use and narrate design scenarios. This unit should be connected with Scenario Generation (Unit 06); In which Scenarios are explained in terms of theory and rationale. While in this unit, scenarios are introduced and explained in terms of the methodological framework.


This unit creates a space for students to explore the role of provocative prototypes (provo-types) in shaping critical future visions of Designing Futures. You should draw upon examples of provo-types from cultural, economic, social and political arenas.

Provocation in design futures is used as a tool for critical reflection upon practice. Provocative prototypes can be introduced by educators to trigger the critical dimensions for design students. It encourages the arena of alternative design practices and injects the design process with other views about future challenges. Provo-types challenge user expectations; sometimes with intended “frustrating artifacts” to accentuate and highlight the issue of debate.


This Unit encourages you to place criticality at the centre of your engagement in the intersections Design/ Futures /Literacies. The Unit should be read in conjunction with Unit 00 – Orientation as these two Units bookmark the series of IO5 Units: Unit 00 sets the scene and Unit 09 invites you to critically re-examine the work done so far. This is to twist the perspective already gained during one of the other units (eg. Unit 07- Scenario Making; Unit 08 – Provo-typing); it is also to challenge the trajectory taken and the assumptions behind it so that the final design propositions are re-invigorated and critically galvanized. By working in this way you’ll operate transversally, that is, cultivating relations so to establish further relations. Put differently, this Unit facilitates and supports personal reflection and, therefore, builds self-awareness relating to the strengths of students as active learners. One reflects on practice to expand it further.

Criticality is necessary to unpack and decode existing discourses, to propose meaningful alternatives, and to develop discerning capacities. To be discerning or discriminating is the capacity to make informed distinctions. The etymology of critical is from the Greek root krinein (“to separate, to decide”), thus kritikos (“able to make judgments”). Being ‘critical’ means to intentionally adopt a stance of ‘detached evaluation’ so to create enough distance between you and what you are investigating (project, brief, reading etc.) so that you can appraise it, review it and question it further.

This space is necessary to think about, consider and engage with, your own thinking, reflect on how your position may change because of your learning, and articulate meaningful ways to enact this learning in your practice. Note that while the word critical has connotations of “censurer” or “faultfinder”, however being critical does not mean being negative, or being in disagreement.


This unit provides the foundation to carry out research through design, showing therelation between theory and practice as it is related to the experiential in designing futures literacies. Moreover, it focuses onthe strategies for community engagement in relation to cooperative modes of futures, allowing for experiencing futures with others. It aids designers to generate alternative presents through design interventions that embody desired futures and help understand and experience the needs to provoke these transitions.

This unit also will enable you to gather,   frame and situate the data, insights and connections generated in multiple design interventions in a design space. This help designers to grasp the socio-technical system they have immersed in and understand their personal process of drifting in research through design. Drifting refers to the process of finding alternative design opportunities for one’s work through feeling, sensing, embodying and making.