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Practicing Futures

A Civic Imagination Action Handbook

Series:

Gabriel Peters-Lazaro and Sangita Shresthova

The real world is full of challenges and the sheer weight of problems facing us can stifle the genius of our collective human creativity at exactly the time when we desperately need imaginative and innovative solutions. Responding to this, Practicing Futures: A Civic Imagination Action Handbook harnesses shared values and taps the boundless potential of human imagination to break free of assumptions that might otherwise trap us in repetitive cycles of alienation. Utopias and dystopias have long been used to pose questions, provoke discussions, and inspire next steps, and are helpful because they encourage long view perspectives. Building on the work of the Civic Imagination Project at the University of Southern California, the Handbook is a practical guide for community leaders, educators, creative professionals and change-makers who want to sharpen their visions for the future and understandings of the how the past affects them. This book shares examples and models from our work in diverse communities. It also provides a step-by-step guide to our workshops with the objective of making our approach accessible to all interested practitioners. The tools are adaptable to a variety of local contexts and can serve multiple purposes from community and network building to idea generation and media campaign design by harnessing the expansive capacity for imagination within all of us.

Gabriel Peters-Lazaro, M.F.A., Ph.D. is Assistant Professor at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts where he researches, designs and produces digital media for innovative learning. His current research interests include civic imagination and hypercinemas. He is a practicing documentary filmmaker and his courses deal with critical media making and theory.

Sangita Shresthova, Ph.D. is the Director of Research of Civic Paths Group at the University of Southern California. Her work focuses on the intersections among popular culture, performance, new media, politics, and globalization. Her previous books include By Any Media Necessary: The New Youth Activism (with Henry Jenkins et al.) and Is It All About Hips?: Around the World With Bollywood Dance.