What If? Speculative Fiction and the Future of Education

For centuries, scientific innovation and social movements have been informed and shaped by the speculative fictions of the moment. Speculative literature, film, television, and art have inspired scientists, engineers, philosophers, and leaders in the creation of new ways of knowing and being. Increasingly, the work of marginalized communities has begun to be recognized and supported in the creation of Afro-futurist, Indigenous-futurist, and Chicanx/Mexicanx-futurist arts. Much of this work actively disrupts the imagined future as one that is predicated on colonization, white-supremacy, patriarchy, and heteronormativity.

In April of 2020, writer and activist Arundhati Roy wrote an essay for The Financial Times titled “Pandemic as Portal” in which she discussed the magnitude and significance of the novel coronavirus moving across the globe. She writes, “Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.” In other ways, the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement is another such portal that we are all stepping through: willingly or unwillingly, hopefully or anxiously. As teachers and learners, what will we do to create this world for ourselves, for one another, and for our institutions?

Through reflective and imaginative writing assignments, readings and resources, discussion and small group activities, this course invites participants to engage narrative and speculative thinking to re-vision the future of education. As a final project, participants will be encouraged to design and to craft an artifact for teaching and learning (a syllabus, a visual piece, a short story, a workshop, the possibilities are endless) based on the fundamental question: What If?

This track is ideal for:


Felecia Caton Garcia
Felecia Caton Garcia is the current Presidential Fellow for Equity and Justice in the Classroom at Central New Mexico Community College where she teaches English, American Studies, and Chicanx Studies.
Heather Pleasants
Heather Pleasants, PhD (aka @heatherplez) directs and facilitates undergraduate experiential learning at The University of Alabama through the “Learning in Action” initiative.
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