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Speculative Design Certificate Looks to the Future

February 3, 2021
Elliott Montgomery

Our new Futures Studies and Speculative Design certificate prepares students to tackle the inevitable changes their organizations or employers may face. Past student projects have included speculations on hot topics such as climate change and urban mobility. Professor Elliott Montgomery offers an insider's look into this emerging field and what students can expect from Future Studies courses.

What is Future Studies?

Future studies is built around the notion that we all have a stake in the time ahead of us, but few of us have methodical approaches to understanding or impacting our tomorrows. Futures studies helps us effectively craft visions, bring together perspectives and then develop plans.

In high school, when a guidance counselor asks a student to come up with a five-year plan, really they should ask for five five-year plans. They are not taking into account the many possible futures that could come to be.

Futures Studies map

Prof. Elliott Montgomery maps the relationships between Future Studies and other fields on his website EPMID.com.

What makes CPE’s Future Studies program unique?

It’s the confluence between design and futures. Students will work on scenario planning and determine how to bring a sensory quality to those scenarios.

Who is the certificate for?

It is applicable to anyone who's thinking about their longer term impact on the world. For example, a product designer thinking five years from now might ask: what might the world look like when my products are still being used?

The certificate is for anyone wanting to use future studies for their personal growth, but it is more useful for someone who wants to push in a certain direction; someone with a career field and/or industry in mind.

Futures Studies map

"Futures are stories we create to analyze, plan, and build consensus. 'Narrative Futures Cones' represent the subjective limits of our capacity to envision probable stories." Find more futures maps at EPMID.com.

What skills do students develop in certificate courses?

Design futures is a soft skill (with many concrete methods) that's increasingly capturing the curiosity of design and strategy companies. Since it's an emerging field, you might not see many job postings for "futurist" yet. Design and strategy practices will be well served by having these approaches in your toolkit.

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