The Mutant Futures Program: Methodological Hybridity and Creativity
Over the last 10 years I have been inspired by a new generation of methodological creativity. This was the first way that I began to think about mutant futures. Up until 2010 I had learned the conventional world of futures studies, analytic research and workshop facilitation. But there were innovations and weak signals bubbling up all around. I had followed the work of Noah Raford and the development of Futurescaper. As well Stuart Candy and Jeff Watson’s Thing From The Future card game, IFTF’s foresight engine, Jake Dunagan and Anab Jain’s (Superflux) design futures, Maya van Leemput’s ethno-video-graphic foresight. But as an action researcher as well I saw this kind of creativity in other domains, for example the articulation of Collective Impact, the work of Danny Burns systemic action research, Yoland Wadsworth’s mingling of MBTI and action research. And then there was the amazing community around the commons, collective intelligence and peer-to-peer production, the emergence of liquid democracy, the open source and open design movement, Enspiral, and other communities forging new ways of tackling new problems.
Stepping back the pattern that I saw was that domains or disciplines that had once been standalone were being mingled together in creative and counterintuitive ways. Design was probably the most exemplary in this regard, pulling together ideas and disciplines from lots of different spaces into a new generation of creative faculty. And I saw this among my peers. There was a restlessness with regard to method. My generation wanted to pull apart and recombine, to break out of the conventions of how work is done.
In 2012 John Sweeney and his mates at the University of Hawaii Manoa, a merry band of PhD students who were doing remarkably creative work, invited me to a symposium on thinking about the futures of foresight. They and the other guests that came collectively blew my mind, in terms of how futures or anything else for that matter can be done. During that meeting they ran a game where we explored Dator’s 4 Futures, through augmented reality, game play, live action role-play, theater, and treasure hunting. It was truly one of the most epic mash up I had ever experienced. It was during that time in Manoa where the idea of the mutant futurist emerged.
The mutant futurist is a hybrid creative, looking for connections across domains and fields to make the new future possible. They are not just from futures studies, they can be from other disciplines such as design, art, theater and drama, computing, or really any domain which absorbs and engages with future challenges, and thinking about the future. These are transgressive categories of practice, that live in the liminal spaces between conventional fields. They are the edges of creativity.
I had my own fits and starts in exploring and articulating my own path as a mutant futurist, through documentary film, mapmaking, activism, the commons, critical globalization studies and other creative divergences. In 2015 I started down the path of giving myself the space and energy to explore what that meant with greater clarity. And this is where the Mutant Futures Program came from.
I ran cohorts in 2015, 2016, and 2017–18. In 2019 I worked with Nesta, John Sweeney and the global swarm, to explore the new generation of participatory futures, which led to a report and a game — — which for me is a practical and powerful manifestation of mutant futures thinking.
Given the pandemic, I felt driven to put the course online. There is a super affordable self-guided option, a 4 session (3 week) live zoom cohort option, and a more personalized option. My wish is that those with the inclination and desire feel empowered in reimagining who they are and how they work to participate and mutate the future. The world needs you to discover your mutant powers.
* 4 session (3 week) live zoom cohort option begins Nov 7/8
For more information on the courses see the following links: