The University of Melbourne
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Futures of Learning: Speculative Design Toolkit

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The Futures of Learning Speculative Design Toolkit arises from the urgent need for innovative models of community-based education that explore human-land-technology relationships as collective expression and mobilisation of knowledge. This project engages with grand challenges affecting young people, particularly those associated with the climate crisis and intensified use of digital technologies which can both mitigate and contribute to ecological collapse. We ask what role does speculative design education play in this space?

Speculative design is sometimes called critical design or design fiction which requires zooming out beyond user-centred design and asks what the effects of the designs could be on future societies. It’s concerned with possibilities, not probabilities, pushing people to consider their preferences over a set of possible futures and the ways in which objects are designed, help or hinder their attempts to build those futures. We will be hacking the Futures of Learning and will take as its starting point The Anthropocene Curriculum (2021) developed with Science Gallery Bengaluru through the ‘2020 The Shape of Practice Seminar’ ( 

The project began at the Future Design Research Symposium in September 2022 and was followed by a 2-day hackathon in 2023 guided by the following questions to encourage creative risk-taking in the interest of generating new knowledge through lived experience:  

  • What might be the futures of learning?  
  • What if mobile technologies were used as an expansive medium for creative problem-solving and social justice for the futures of learning?  
  • How might it spark new ideas for intercultural climate futures and drive systemic change in design education?  

Launched in early 2024, the Speculative Co-Design Toolkit and online curriculum is an educational adventure, inviting design teachers and students alike to delve into the realm of speculation, transcending the boundaries of the present now to envision tomorrows to come. Kate Coleman, the Chief Instigator of the project sought funding for this work because she saw the need to raise the profile of design education, particularly speculative design. Kate wanted to support design teacher education and work in partnership with teachers and young people to encourage imagination to flow freely about learning in a post-covid world. She was thrilled to have the project funded by the Creative Futures Design Research and Education Fund at the University of Melbourne.


Creative Futures Design Research and Education Fund at the University of Melbourne.


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