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Let’s Report a Future Practice: Interview Roleplay as a Way to Flesh Out Alternatives
A guided roleplay exercise in which participants flesh out an alternative future practice through a fictive interview performance after which they produce two ‘future artifacts’: a newspaper article and a page from a museum catalog.


By: Lenneke Kuijer (Eindhoven University of Technology)

Session type: Single session, Undergraduate/Graduate level, Small/Medium size


  • Futures thinking (visioning)

  • Social practice theory

  • Role-playing


Introduction to the teaching example:

The exercise's goal is to experience a creative way of fleshing out alternative future practices in which technological innovations are decentralized and space is made for re-imagining skills and meanings. This for example allows for imagining futures that move away from excessively resource-intensive living.

The process is divided into six key steps and takes approximately 2.5 hours. 

Step 1: After making groups of 3-6 students, each group selects and investigates an alternative future. These are brief descriptions of alternative futures that are radically different from what is normal today in terms of societal structures, rhythms, norms, and/or values. Examples provided with the method include: a 20-hour work week, life without artificial lighting and fashion that celebrates sweat.  
Step 2: In the next step, students choose one of three possible roles: The Enthusiast, The Sceptic and The Interviewer.
Step 3: Students spend five minutes preparing for their role by traveling into the future and becoming their characters. The Interviewer prepares by going through the provided list of questions.
Step 4: The roleplay interview takes approximately 30 minutes. Interviewers use the provided list of questions as a guide while conversing with the enthusiasts and skeptics who play experience experts of the future practice.
Step 5: In step five two outputs are created to display and summarize. First, a brief (about 200 words) newspaper article, accompanied by an image, about anything notable that might occur in the alternative future. Second, a page from a museum catalog showing how a certain object (including an image of the object) from the current year is perceived as something strange in the future. 

Step 6: Finally, students briefly present and discuss the two outputs and, with the guidance of the instructor, reflect on the experience.

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