Taking Care of Water: IEDIFT 2023
Toban Shadlyn & John V Willshire
📢 Calling all futurists, changemakers, change-seekers, innovators 📢 .
Come spend two weeks this summer at IED in Barcelona attending the Innovation and Future Thinking course. We will be bringing together a group of inspirational local and international lecturers, immersing ourselves in the local and regional context through a series of site visits, and applying practices from foresight and futures thinking. Keep reading for more details.
Apply now if you’d like a place, or send it on to someone you think might. See you on July 10, 2023!
Each year in the Innovation and Future Thinking course at IED Barcelona, we select a theme to ground our work. This provides students with a lens through which to explore the world, a platform to help understand the methods and tools used to critically assess possible futures, and a common language in which the cohort can communicate what they uncover.
Perhaps most importantly of all, given the global diversity of the course and the highly contextual nature of the field, we look for a theme that both connects students to the city, and is applicable to their practice and profession beyond the course. As always, we were making notes on potential themes for this year during the course last July. More than ever, we could keenly feel the presence of climate in every field trip, every conversation with residents, and every link found in secondary research.
When a city announces it is increasing the number of climate shelters for that summer to almost 200, it’s hard not to think about the implications for the future.
This summer we knew we wanted to explore the urgent and important challenges of the climate crisis, the impacts presently – and yet to be – felt in Barcelona as well as the wider region of Catalunya. How will Barcelona need to adapt as the city, the region, and the country all continue to get hotter year upon year?
It is a big question, and as the course is only two weeks long, we want to tighten the enquiry a little. So our theme for the course this year is Taking Care Of Water, a phrase taken directly from one of the key changes in the 2018-30 Barcelona Climate Plan.
Taking Care Of Water
How will the region prepare for a reduced availability of potable water in the context of drought? Or on the flip side, prepare for a greater increase of flooding due to unprecedented rainfall. What effects can we expect to see on the food people eat, the work they do, the communities they’re part of, the places they live, and the services which support them?
Usefully, the Climate Plan sets out some goals that we should by now be on the verge of seeing come to fruition (or not). We will use the first half of the course to see how much progress has been made, gaining first hand experience by 1) immersing ourselves in the city through a series of site visits – to build a deeper and broader understanding of the landscape, and 2) guest speakers – each of whom will bring a different perspective and set of priorities to the debate.
We will seek to identify where in Barcelona problems are likely to arise, the form they will appear in, and the evidence of how they manifest themselves already. Understanding the historic and present day dynamics are a vital first step in beginning to understand how potential futures may unfold.
Assemblage Space, Smithery, 2020-onwards.
The second half will build on the first week, informing the development of specific briefs – emerging from the research – for teams to respond to. We will introduce and guide teams through the creation of a variety of outcomes from speculative products, to prototyping services, imagining new roles for citizens, innovative infrastructure, radical policies, developing new mental models, or forging new narratives.
The course will culminate in a final presentation, an opportunity for students to share their work with a group of invited external guests, receive feedback, and engage in meaningful discussion. Central to all of this is making sure students leave with a practical, usable set of skills, and a firm understanding of what this kind of work can be used to achieve.
Over the past nine years of IEDIFT, we’ve seen how far students can get even in a short time; by creating a learning environment that invites exploration, challenges the status quo, and promotes new ways of doing and knowing, this course has always tried to prompt transformative action. This year, we want to harness that energy in order to think and act differently around one of the world’s most pressing challenges.
Apply now if you’d like a place, or send it on to someone you think might…
We’ll see you on the streets of Barcelona in July.
Set up by Scott Smith of Changeist in 2014, and taken over by John V Willshire of Smithery in 2017, and this year will be co-cordinated for the first time by John and Toban Shadlyn. This two week summer course was conceived and designed to be a practical futures course for the streets. Past themes have included the Futures of Payments, Identity, Food, Transport, The ‘Futures and Follies of the Full-Stack Habitat’, and the Expansion of the Superblocks (Superillas). Past guest lecturers have included Christina Bifano, Laura Cleries, Andres Colmenares, Susan Cox-Smith, Dan Hill, Fabien Girardin, Natalie Kane, Tobias Revell and Elisabet Roselló.