Decolonising the Imagination: Futures Literacies in Immersive spaces

Supervisor: Prof Keri Facer  (primary supervisor) and Professor Arathi Sriprakash (second supervisor)

This studentship will be affiliated with the Education (Bristol) SWDTP pathway. Proposed Start Date October 2022 . Please use this link to apply through the ‘Education (PhD)’ programme at the University of Bristol

Despite important Feminist, Critical and anti-colonial traditions of futures thinking, the field of Futures Studies and its subfield Futures Literacies have been dominated by white, male, anglophone and capitalist worldviews, which risks the colonization of the imagination of the future by a small subset of human insights and experiences (Facer & Sriprakash, 2021; Andersson, 2018). This tendency is repeated in the world of sociodigital futures-making, where the design and development of virtual and immersive learning technologies presently over-represent white male life experiences (e.g. Reiley, 2016; Feenberg, 2002). The development of virtual and immersive environments as spaces in which humanity might explore potential future trajectories risks, therefore, producing a set of experiences that intensify the narrowing of imaginative capacities. 

The aim of this PhD thesis is to engage with the rich fields of Afro- and Indigenous- futures as well as immersive futures design practice, to begin to explore how immersive virtual technologies might be harnessed to ‘decolonise the imagination’ and open-up critical and reflective capabilities for imagining alternative futures in educational settings. The precise design and scope of the project will be developed in negotiation between the successful candidate and supervisors.

The thesis will require both critical engagement with theory and the ability to work creatively and practically with designers, teachers, students and developers to create experimental forms of pedagogic practice in immersive spaces (Schultz, 2018; Holbert et al, 2020; Wallis & Ross, 2020).  

Career Development Support & Capacity building

• The student will be building capacity in the mobilisation of immersive practices – technologically and non-technologically mediated – for the exploration and imagination of critical and emancipatory futures

• The student will be supported to network widely with the Global Futures Literacy Network – an international consortium that brings together leading thinkers in Futures Research, Policy and Practice.

• There will be the opportunity for at least two periods of internship/volunteership with Centre Strategic Partners who may be educational (e.g. UNESCO), activist or technical in focus. These will enable the student to gain an understanding of cutting-edge practice in immersive anticipatory learning oriented towards decolonisation.

Interested applicants are advised to contact or to discuss their application 

CenSoF project studentship applicants are also required to complete Annex A and emailed to by NOON 25 February 2022 and will be assessed using the criteria below: