Xtopias are transformative interventions that facilitate people’s mental and emotional access to different possible futures. They consist of extreme ideas with utopian, dystopian and ambivalent aspects, which are combined with a suitable format to address and actively involve specific target groups. The aim of Xtopian interventions is to engage people in the support of societal transformations to a more sustainable future. In this talk, we present the concept and outcomes of a university seminar that arose from cooperations between the transformative research project ‘Urban Xtopias’ and two different universities, at faculties for design in one case and for architecture and planning in the other. Due to its specific design, the seminar represented an Xtopian intervention itself. At the same time, it guided students in developing Xtopias of their own: They created stations of an interactive ‘circuit training’ that aimed to train people’s imagination. Taking the R.E.M. song ‘It’s the End of the World as We Know It’ as a starting point, the seminar reflected on the possible end of an era and asked: how could the world look like if humans lived more symbiotic with other creatures? Various exercises – serious, humorous, experimental, communicative, process- as well as result-oriented – trained the students’ imagination and Xtopian thinking. They built and tested prototypes. Finally, the circuit trainings consisted of several interactive stations and were presented as public exhibitions. We evaluated the intervention with a mixed-methods approach. The talk addresses implications of our learnings for transformative teaching in higher education.
Jasmin Jossin is a sustainability and transformation researcher based in Berlin. She has a PhD in Urban Psychology, is co-leader of the transformative research project “Urban Xtopias” and has also been working in education for sustainable development with a focus on higher education and the municipal level.
Margarete Arnold; Franziska Bernstein; Myriel Milicevic; Ida-Maria Sommerfeldt; Annette Voigt