Priorities:University of Twente Faculty Project

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Project Name: Coshaping inclusive futures through “responsible futuring”

Project by Faculty Innovation Fellows Candidate Julieta Castano

Why is this project important to you, your department, & your Fellows?

This project aims to support stakeholders inside and outside of the university to adopt a “responsible futuring” mindset to co-shape inclusive futures. This is important because, as we seek to make sense of the ongoing transformations in our world, we are constantly confronted with different views and experiences that lead to controversies on the path forward. People, organizations, and different sectors of society hold different values and perspectives not only on which futures are desirable and undesirable, but also on the preferred courses of action to achieve (or avoid) those futures. Adopting a “responsible futuring” mindset enables bridging different stakeholder worldviews, embracing conflicts constructively and opening up new avenues to tackle societal challenges.

This project aims at developing, testing and transferring toolkits and methods that fall within the aforementioned ‘responsible futuring’ mindset. This is relevant for the following stakeholders:

  • DesignLab: It brings together quadruple helix interest groups to be an agent of creative collaboration among citizens, academia, public institutions and companies.
  • Fellows: It provides a breeding ground to explore how to enhance current design practices by combining trans disciplinarity, responsible design, and social involvement for societal impact.
  • Me: I can be an actor that generates responsible change by opening up dialogue and stimulating hands-on practices to tackle societal challenges with my work.


This project aims to develop, test, and transfer tools and methods to stimulate a ‘responsible futuring’ mindset for stakeholders within and outside of the university. The main motivation to do so is to enable practices that focus on co-shaping inclusive futures that incorporate a diversity of worldviews, and embrace conflict as a constructive source of creative collaboration. To this end, I will take the existing “Responsible Futuring” approach as developed at the DesignLab of the University of Twente, and will be a champion to put the approach into practice to further develop and test it in different contexts.

Adopting a Responsible Futuring mindset requires involving different stakeholders to surface different values and worldviews, and collaboratively reflect on the long term implications of our practices in the now. In this process, I will explore ways to make stakeholders strive to build future scenarios, reflect on potential futures (identifying the desirable ones) and imagine paths to achieve them. In this process, it is essential to reflect on present practices and provide an actionable outlook. The approach that I plan to use during this project consists of 4 differentiated phases. These phases can follow one another or be organized as stand-alone activities:

Connect and relate: This phase consists of bringing together stakeholders to engage with divergent worldviews, understand value dynamics, develop a common ground for collaboration, and co-develop concrete plans to connect expertise and awareness of the diverse group of stakeholders.

Understand and frame: This phase revolves around developing an in-depth understanding of the societal challenge at hand, the context, and the people involved in it. To this end, in this phase, it is essential to map acquired knowledge and systematize it to define patterns, relationships and themes that help to provide a coherent set of statements to think with and take action from.

Imagine and ideate: This phase focuses on imagining and ideating futures tangibly to reflect on and debate the implications of ideas, practices and developments.

Reflect and reframe: This phase is about reevaluating ideas, concepts and perspectives to develop a new frame that fosters transdisciplinary collaboration.

Responsible Futuring can be an agent of change by stimulating stakeholders to co-shape desirable futures, with an emphasis on ethical reflection and speculative design to visualize how the future might look and how it will affect different interest groups.

In the upcoming two years, I plan to carry out this project in an iterative manner and follow these three steps:

Exploration: Explore and expand the current Responsible Futuring approach by creating a repository of tools, methods and ways of working that can be applied for each phase of the Responsible Futuring approach. This includes transdisciplinary and participatory methods, new ways of making sense of a challenge, new knowledge with societal perspective, tangible scenarios, ideation prototypes, ethical and moral analysis of ideas and technologies.

Activation of networks: Identify and activate networks to apply the Responsible Futring mindsets and associated methods and tools in ongoing projects both within the university and with external stakeholders. The focus of this phase is on identifying cases that involve diverse interest groups to actively engage them to reflect on value dynamics, the importance of creative collaboration, and inclusion of multiple perspectives to achieve desirable futures.

Test and evaluation: During this phase, I will apply the methods and tools to the networks and cases identified in step 2. The focus will be on assessing how the Responsible Futuring approach enables stakeholders to work together, make thoughts and ideas tangible to support sensemaking, and ideate together with moral imagination to embed ethical considerations in their practices. I will use the results of this phase to derive lessons learned that can be translated into a set of insights into how to embrace a Responsible Futuring mindset to co-shape inclusive futures.

The outcome of the project will be a set of (tested) transferable tools and methods that can equip stakeholders to adopt a Responsible Futuring mindset in their contexts.

Stakeholders served

  • Stakeholders belonging to the quadruple helix clusters (i.e., academia, industry, civic society and governmental organization).
  • Designers and design researchers since the Responsible Futuring approach enhances current design practices.
  • Students, faculty members, and fellows that will benefit from the developed toolkit and set of methods.

Key Milestones

  • December 2021:Develop a repository of existing methods for each phase of the Responsible Futuring approach
  • March 2022: Identify and activate networks to apply the methods and put them to practice
  • June 2022: Test and evaluate methods and tools in specific cases
  • September 2022: Derive lessons learned to incorporate into the toolkit
  • December 2022: Present first draft of toolkit and methods to gather feedback from internal and external stakeholders
  • March 2023: Finalize toolkit and methods for Responsible Futuring

An Innovation Portfolio

The planned portfolio will consist of a set of tools and methods to transfer a Responsible Futuring mindset and enable stakeholders to adopt it.

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