Collective Scenarios: rehearsing, predicting and speculating on climate futures

Anthropogenic climate change places particular demands on the future –a future humanity is expected to prepare for, and increasingly, shape. Scenarios are a common method of getting a better grip on the future, particularly when the future is understood to be in crisis. Scenario thinking has long been a prominent strand in climate science and policy, where it draws on predictive scientific knowledge, based on computer models and simulations. Scenarios are also deployed in the wider culture in various ways: by risk and foresight industries, in contingency and adaptation planning for urban futures, the back casting and forecasting of business strategies, the speculative design practices that engage with future lifestyles, and the imaginings of climate or science fiction.

The Collective Scenarios project will uncover the inter-relations of scenario-based methods in various disciplines, including the calculative technologies of the climate science policy interface, the narrative processes in speculative and science fiction, and anticipation strategies in projects for future ecosystem and urban design. The research will be organized around three themes: rehearsing, predicting and speculating on climate changed futures. It will involve archival research, interviews with climate researchers from different disciplines and scenario-based workshops where it will explore the potential of collective scenario-making for future modes of inhabitation.

This website is an evolving archive of information about the Collective Scenarios project: Activities, Interviews, Resources and Timeline. The project will produce a cultural history of scenarios, revealing the under-acknowledged origins, practices and hence assumptions of scenario building for climate futures.

Professor Renata Tyszczuk holds the Chair in Architectural Humanities at the University of Sheffield. She convenes the Culture and Climate Change initiative. She was awarded a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship (2019–2022) to work on the Collective Scenarios project.