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

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. However, we should not hope to find a single grand narrative for the future, any more than we can allow ourselves to passively adopt the “singularity” narrative currently arising from Silicon Valley. We need a multiplicity of stories and other imaginary productions from every cardinal point in our multipolar world. And we need these imaginaries to equip us and enable us to

  • Imagine the worlds that come next: mobilize the power of myths and imagination to represent prospective transitions; explore different, out of the box futures; and expand the scope of alternatives.
  • Act in situations of radical uncertainty: Produce and provide tools that help people, organizations and society at large discuss possible futures; embrace controversy as a means of exploration and a way to challenge our assumptions; make choices, experiment and take action in an uncertain and diverse world.

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 productions equip us with fertile soil … provided they are known and exploited.

The Plurality University Network (U+) will therefore go on a mission to detect, connect, and federate people and organizations that mobilize the resources of the imaginary to explore alternative futures. With two main objectives:

  1. To make these practices and outputs more accessible and useable for decision-makers, professionals, the media and students;
  2. To build upon the richness and diversity of imaginaries of the future in order to shift public debate, expectations and aspirations – thereby widening the scope of alternatives available to business, public actors and society at large.

No single organization can carry out such a mission: U+ should therefore see itself as a network, an archipelago, an inclusive, open and collective endeavor.

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.

Who are we?

Daniel Kaplan
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.
Laura Le Du
Methodologies and Research
Laura Le Du, PhD, is a young researcher at l'Ecole des Mines de Paris, whose work focuses on understanding how to expand and renew technological and organizational imaginaries – and creating tools to enable it. She is also a part of several innovation communities along with Renault, SNCF, Minatec’s Ideas Laboratory, etc.
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.
Ketty Steward
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.
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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