*NEW* SPRING 2021 - ReDesigning the Future: Radical Innovation After COVID

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Spring 2021
Tuesdays, 7:00-9:30 PM


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Our current pandemic is, for many, revealing critical failures and design flaws in the foundational systems that guide our daily functioning. These revelations open problem spaces for entrepreneurial thinkers and tinkerers to ask What new techniques and technologies might we design in light of our current context? How might we think through the pandemic as we move through it?

In this class, we will approach the world as creative designers and intentional inventors. We will take as our premise that Today is the beginning of Tomorrow, and we will work together to deliberately redesign that Tomorrow. A local entrepreneur has called our quarantine period a “Pause” but that feels a missed opportunity for those of us ready to break and remake the world. Novelist Arundhati Roy in April wrote in the Financial Times that “the pandemic is a portal” and Hala Alyan reminds us that “this is not a rehearsal”. If the pandemic were a portal, one that we are not rehearsing but are actively performing, what would we want when we emerge on the other side?
There are new social techniques already emerging: foot taps are replacing handshakes, facemasks are becoming fashion statements, and mutual aid networks are devising new forms of community and mutuality. There are also new technologies, both simple and sophisticated, that are being deployed to remake our world: basic plastic parts are being added to crosswalk buttons in Milan to transform them to knee-operated mechanisms, robots are being used to enforce social distancing in Singapore. What else can we (re)create?
If today were the start of a new world - and please pretend this here with me for a moment - how might we reimagine industries, cultural practices and global networks? Each of you will choose your own topics of exploration (what will you remake?) and your own forms of research transmission (how are you delivering your research or prototype?). Throughout the course, we’ll cover a wide range both. If you are coming to the class with a research topic already in mind, fabulous, let’s cultivate that and manifest both research and research transmissions together.
As we explore topics and transmissions (inputs and outputs), we’ll be reading philosophers, economists, novelists, feminists, educators, artists and entrepreneurs.

Together we’ll explore these questions:

  • How do our things, spaces, artifacts, environments design us?
  • How has the pandemic, and let’s think broadly here, (re)designed our spaces, things artifacts, environments, actions, reactions, and interactions? 
  • How can we use speculative research to redesign the world?
  • How can we call on a wide variety of knowledges to inform our practice?
  • How can speculative fiction provide a model for future ways of living and/or ways of dreaming futures?

The development and initial offering of this new course in the Spring of 2021 was supported through the generosity of GLS alumna Lottie Applewhite.

Amanda Starling Gould is the Senior Program Coordinator, for Educational Programs & Digital Humanities, at the Duke University John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute. She administers the FHI’s Story+ Interdisciplinary Humanities Research program, consults on digital humanities projects and innovative pedagogical interventions for FHI’s Humanities Labs and Digital Humanities Initiative, and collaborates with partners across Duke (and beyond) to design creative – and sometimes remote – research and storytelling experiences.She also co-teaches a course on failure, empathy, embodiment, and resilience called “Learning to Fail” for Duke University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative with Dr. Aaron Dinin, and leads a faculty/staff/community reading group on Mindful Pedagogy and Practice. Past teaching and research work investigated global environmental health communication, digital media, global environmental humanities, environmental justice, EcoCritical DH, sustainable humanities scholarship, embodied media(ted) experiences, and the narrative, performative, and artistic aspects of the health humanities. To read more about Dr. Starling Gould's research, see her website