About the Plurality University Network

“If, as the saying goes, ‘politics is the art of the possible’, it follows that we need arts in order to multiply possibilities.”
Bruno Latour

Mission

The Plurality University Network is a global, open organization that connects the artists, designers, utopians and activists who use the power of imagination to enable alternative futures.

Although past centuries have demonstrated the ability of human societies to transform, today we seem unable to confront the nature and magnitude of the challenges ahead. Climate change urges us to reconsider our role as « masters and possessors » of nature; technological advances challenge our ability to command our own creations. We have neither the tools nor the collective mechanisms to deal with the anthropological aspects of such transitions – let alone resolve the contradictions which oppose them.

Our hypothesis is that humanity will only find its ability to take control its own future by explicitly building on the power of imaginaries. Not in order to write a single grand narrative for the future, but rather to enable the creation and sharing of multiple stories and other imaginary productions, from every cardinal point in our multipolar world. We believe that this shared capacity to regenerate imaginaries is the condition for the emergence of new alternatives for action, new common paths for future transitions.

This intuition is shared by a number of researchers, innovators, artists, sci-fi writers, utopians, futures thinkers, speculative designers. Throughout the world, their practices and hold immense potential… provided they are known and exploited.

The Plurality University Network (U +) is a networked, open and global organization, whose mission is to connect and bring together those individuals and organizations who mobilize the resources of imagination to explore other futures. With two main objectives:

  1. To make these practices and their productions more accessible to all, organizations and citizens;
  2. To shift expectations and aspirations and influence public debates – thereby widening the scope of alternatives available to business, public actors and society at large.

The Plurality University Network has already started to work. 2018 was Year Zero. 2019 is the founding year, when the action really starts. We want to work with you during this decisive stage.

Our Priorities for 2019

The international Founders’ Meeting of 30/11 and 1/12 defined a set of overall objectives and specific actions we hope to conduct in 2019, while continuing some of the projects initiated in 2018:

Deepen and extend the U + network

The objective is to make the Plurality University Network’s international network real, that it becomes a natural place for information and practice sharing, discussions around projects and outcomes and a space that will facilitate collaboration among members. We need to build an online platform [done], create our governance mechanisms [done], plan for a second global meeting in connection with an existing international event (end 2019-early 2020)…

Give more density to the U+ network

The Plurality University Network is a « network of networks », it brings together individuals and organizations that are, in themselves, important nodes of local networks, thematic, etc. It must be a place for meaningful interactions and coproduction, both locally and globally.

To this end, we will:

  • Initiate international projects to facilitate exchange of content (Futures Fragments) and people (Chain Futures)
  • Facilitate the emergence of local nodes, starting with an initial experiment in France.

Coordinate Thematic Projects

The purpose is to mobilize a significant number of the network’s participants around common and inspiring topics.

  • During the second half of 2019, we will organize U+ Days, an international sequence of events dedicated to alternative futures and the role of arts & design in figuring them;
  • Launched in 2018 in France, the WORK+ project on the futures of work, will be pursued by both experimenting within companies and collectives.

These projects will be developed in a collaborative way, making sure that creators, actors (corporations, public institutions, associations, etc.), citizens and researchers work together from the very beginning.

Invest in Research and Education

The Plurality University Network should aim at making many, many more people “futures-literate”, but also bring more to the current content of “futures literacy”. In 2019, it will initiate these activities by experimenting with new methods and content for futures literacy (U+ Lab), and initiating the creation of a Research Network.

Produce Highly Visible, Accessible Material

All actions and projects described above will produce open-source deliverables that are free of access and reusable (CC-Attribution license). We will systematically seek to promote them by publishing the material or through media partnerships. At the end of the year, all of the projects will lead to the production of a “Yearbook” intended for a wide audience, accessible online and in paper format.

The U+ Organization

The PluralityUniversity Network was incorporated on April 4, 2019, as a nonprofit organization under French law (“association”). Membership is open to individuals, and free. Here is a regularly updated list of members.

The chairwoman is Ketty Steward.

You can download:

Legal notice / Handling of personal data / GDPR

Meet the Team

Ketty Steward
Chairperson
Born 1976 in Martinique, Ketty Steward is a writer, with more than 30 science-fiction short stories published as well as poetry and stories outside the Sci-Fi genre. Ketty Steward also gives conferences and courses, and has coordinated special issues of science-fiction magazines.
Daniel Kaplan
Initiator, CEO
Daniel Kaplan, 56, is a futurist and entrepreneur, with one leg in innovation, and another in fiction. In 1986, he created one of the world's first digital communication agencies, JKLM. In the 1990’s, he contributed to the Internet’s development and evolution. In 2000, he created the Next-Generation Internet Foundation (FING), a nonprofit Think-&-Do-Tank to “anticipate digital transformations”. He ran it until 2017, when he started working on what would become the Plurality University.
Chloé Luchs Tassé
Chief connector and organizer
Chloé Luchs Tassé is interested in questions surrounding the digital era and its impact on culture and the creative economy. She holds a Master’s degree in Communication and a Bachelor's in Fine Arts (BFA). Passionate about issues related to culture, international relations and sustainable development she worked at UNESCO, Paris for the Secretariat for the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. Subsequently, she worked as a consultant for the Coalition for the Diversity of Cultural Expressions in Montréal, Canada.
Sophie Coiffier
U+ Seminars
Sophie is an independent researcher and a writer. After a doctorate in Arts and Art Sciences at the Sorbonne, she has taught at arts and design schools. She has published 3 books and many short stories and essays. Her last book, Paysage Zero, was published in November 2017.
Max Mollon
Max Mollon is a design practitioner, teacher and researcher. Focusing his attention on speculative design since 2010, he imagines f(r)ictional futures represented by imaginary artefacts, whose usage trigger societal and ethical discussions. Max has earned his PhD researching the area of design fiction while creating the Design Fiction Club, Politique-Fiction (a fictional policy think-tank) and his own agency, What if? He is a teacher at SciencesPo and the Centre Pompidou.
Ariel Kyrou
Ariel Kyrou is a journalist, a writer and an entrepreneur, who uses contemporary art and science-fiction to think today’s and tomorrow’s world. He is the editor of several reviews and websites on mobile cultures, social innovation, as well as of Orange’s Digital Society Forum, and a member of Multitude’s editorial board. Ariel has written several books, including Employment is dead, long live work! (2015, with Bernard Stiegler), ABCDick, we live within the words of a Sci-Fi writer (2009) and Google God (2010). He also teaches the critical history of contemporary cultures and the Versailles / Saint-Quentin en Yvelines university.
Jacques-François Marchandise
Jacques-François Marchandise is Fing’s co-founder, and its CEO since 2017. He has been involved in digital innovation since 1982, both as an entrepreneur and a consultant, with a short interruption when he created and directed a publishing house. His main focus is on how people and societies are (or aren’t) in a position to master technological developments and benefit from them, and on the mix between creativity and critical thinking. Jacques-François teaches at the Ensci design school and the Rennes University, and has directed several futures-oriented research projects on digital transformations.
Thomas Gauthier
Thomas Gauthier is Professor at the Geneva school of business administration and emlyon business school. He teaches strategy, strategic foresight, and futures thinking. His research focuses on the contribution of futures thinking to policymaking and organizational strategy.
Jérome Ruskin
Jérôme Ruskin is the founder and the publisher of Usbek & Rica, the media that explores the future. He has been developing this media since 2010, mixing weak-signals identification, the exploration of significant controversies and a keen interest on utopias. Within Usbek & Rica, Jerome has also created the Tribunal of Future Generations, a show/conference in the form of a trial, that provides an original forum to discuss major future challenges.
Frédérique Pain
Frédérique Pain is director of Research and Innovation at Strate Design School. Before that, she worked at Alcatel Lucent’s famous Bell Labs. Her research focuses on innovation management, experience design, as well as emerging social robotics technologies. Frederique also runs the EXALT design lab, a groundbreaking common initiative between a design school, two engineering schools (Ecole Polytechnique and Telecom ParisTech) and 5 corporations. She is also a militant of gender equality for the benefit of a more open, sensitive and motivating world.

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