This has been an incredible semester exploring dystopian visions and contradictions of power with students in CoLab, a joint elective co-taught with Basma Hamdy. In this context, my “Design Activism” course joined forces with Hamdy’s “Language + Context” course in a model of collaborative inquiry aimed at responding to current socio-political positions of power and resistance.

Together, students researched contemporary case studies in science fiction and dystopic scenarios in order to create unique future scenarios, tracing a path to alternative worlds. These predictive futures aimed to raise awareness, expose assumptions, provoke action, and spark debate about our collective future(s).

As part of our course activities, we hosted the wonderfully talented filmmaker, Oscar Boyson for a critique session. Oscar was thoughtful with his feedback, generous with his time, and altogether inspiring with his view of design.

The outcome of CoLab was the “Future Realities” exhibition held in the VCUarts Qatar open space. Each installation investigated how design propositions can trace the path to alternative worlds, raising awareness of our collective future(s) as a form of design activism.

We couldn’t be more proud of our amazing students who created design-based dystopian futures to question, agitate, and examine the status quo!