- Objective: Finding positive visions for the future
- Target group: European citizens
- How: two workshops, a youth exchange, and a call for articles
- Where: Denmark and Germany
Futures of Europe set out to explore positive and creative perspectives on Europe’s future. By encouraging European citizens to envision a positive future for our society, the team wanted to help them reclaim a narrative that is too often driven by populist, simplified, divisive and negative discourse in public debates. The project consisted of two workshops, which took place in Cologne (Germany) on 22 April and in Copenhagen (Denmark) on 24 June, and during an International youth exchange, which took place in Mühlhausen (Germany) from 14 to 20 July 2017. Additionally, an open call for articles was published for submissions throughout the duration of the project, with the aim of sparking a debate about people’s visions for the future of Europe. The project focuses on the democratic values of Europe and the notion of European identity – rethinking and strengthening these ideas in accordance with modern society is essential in order to reclaim the debate on who and what is European – and where we are heading in the future.
- Moritz Borchardt (Erfurt, Germany)
- Louise Abildgaard (Copenhagen, Denmark)
- Simon Höher (Cologne, Germany)
- Linda Ohman (Adviser from FutureLab Europe generation 2015)
Why this project?
The team developed the project as an answer to the current tendencies in public discussions in many European countries, concerned by the populist, simplified, divisive and often negative narratives about our society, and about the general lack of vision about our future. The project set out to discuss, rethink and strengthen the notions of democratic values and European identity. It sparked pluralistic and constructive discussions about what kind of a society we want to create as Europeans by literally asking ‘What future do you want to live in?’.
“It was exciting to see how, once we shifted the focus from what we all dislike and dread to what we would want to see and create in the future, all discussions became very open, creative, and positive at once. I guess we should all do this exercise on a very regular basis.” – Simon Höher
The activities the team implemented within the project were two workshops, a youth exchange, and a call for articles. The workshops were the main activities and had some good results. The team was happy to see the immediacy of the project’s impact: the participants’ general outlook on the future changed considerably for the better after only a few hours. A variety of different skill sets were put to use in the creation of these positive visions, and the overall outcome was a shared interpretation of today’s manifold challenges – in and outside of Europe – as solvable. The workshops confirmed the team’s idea that positive interpretations of the future are essential. As for the calls for article, the team received very diverse (geographically and culturally) contributions. In the same vein, the youth exchange ‘Show me a Future – Pop-Culture, European Values and the Future we want to Create’, taking place in Mühlhausen, Germany, with 25 participants from France, Germany, Greece, Italy and Spain proved the validity of the Futures of Europe concept, as it functioned well as part of a bigger, longer event. It challenged the diverse groups to think creatively and positively about the future in Europe – and thus provided fertile ground for the rest of the youth exchange.
The main challenge the team faced was generating visibility and long-term interest in the project.
- Online platform “Futures of Europe”
- Open call for articles – online
- Workshop with local citizens in Cologne, Germany
- Workshop with local citizens in Copenhagen, Denmark
Calendar of activities
- Website – starting April 2017
- Open call for articles – April 2017
- Workshop Cologne – 22 April 2017
- Workshop Copenhagen – 24 June 2017
“The most rewarding part of Futures of Europe was to experience how the project could spark optimism. People came to the workshops with very gloomy and depressing ideas of the current state of Europe and everybody – no exceptions – left feeling positive and inspired to think in new ways.” – Louise Roesen Abildgaard
The team would love to keep the discussions going and also explore whether there are ways to do so online, to make it more inclusive and available throughout Europe. Local events would certainly be interesting, especially in areas that might have a more disillusioned view of the EU, such as in Portugal, Italy, or Greece.
If you are interested in following up with the team and wish to bring the Futures of Europe format to your city you can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Optimism rules supreme – and changes people for the better. The difference between people’s attitudes when they arrived at our events and when they left was staggering and heart-warming. Looking at the overall experience, this exercise in optimism and creativity seems to fit into a larger demand for positivity in a less than positive Zeitgeist. I cannot help but feel a sense of responsibility to share this sentiment with even more people – through Futures of Europe and beyond. – Moritz Borchardt
- Current collective: a multi-disciplinary think tank, exploring human-centred futures for technology, society, and businesses. currentcollective.cc
- Global Public Policy Watch: an online platform for young professionals and writers.
- Florida Creative Lab: a graphic design and event agency, from Dortmund, Germany.
- Litteraturhuset ved Vandkunsten: venue and catering in Copenhagen.
- CULTURE GOES EUROPE (CGE) – Soziokulturelle Initiative Erfurt e.V. – an NGO focussing on international youth work and civic education that implemented the youth exchange ‘Show me a Future’.