The Apocalypse Workshop: Speculative Scenarios, Fashion, and Superpowers for the End of the World
This week, I got two groups of students from Tembusu College here at the National University of Singapore, to voluntarily participate in my Apocalypse Workshop. The goal was for them to imagine a climate change apocalypse.
The first activity was called My Apocalypse. These were my instructions:
Name and describe your favorite place in 50 years as climate change affects it. (Write about it and draw it.) This could be a city landmark, the family farm, your apartment building, your favorite cafe, or any other place you feel like speculating on. Please be as specific as possible. Scenarios can be positive or negative. (Some questions to ponder, but please don’t limit yourself to these: What does it smell like? What plants and/or animals are present, if any? How hot or cold will it be when you are sitting there? How will you get there? Can you see clearly? Will your pet be happy living there? What is the color you see when you look up? Are there walls, and what are they made of?)
I asked them to name the actual place (and not just write, “the world” or “the city”) because I wanted them to be as specific and detailed as possible. The participants were also more likely to choose different places and thus provide a wider range of descriptions.
The second activity was called Superpowers for the End of the World. These were the details:
If you had a superpower to navigate through what you described in Activity 1, what would it be?
Examples of superpowers can be the ability to: smell an incoming tsunami, be invisible to animals, turn into ice during a heatwave, or anything that your current senses and abilities can’t let you do right now. It can be an extension of your biological abilities, or a device that performs it. You can list more than one superpower.
I wanted to frame it in this way so that people will find it more fun and exciting and really think outside the box when it comes to climate change. Nothing like superpowers to get the creative juices flowing!
The last activity was called The Apocalypse Lookbook, where I gave them fashion design templates:
What will you wear to the apocalypse? Use the templates provided. Define the function of each wearable.
I let them do each activity for twenty minutes, and afterwards, they shared what they made to the group. These university students all had taken a class on climate change, or were in the middle of one. They came from business, economics, engineering, and communication majors. I also had one participant who is a professional environmental engineer.
Here are some photos from the sessions:
I’ve given lots of workshops in the past few years—this definitely yielded among the most imaginative results. I’ll be sharing those soon. Thanks to all the participants, and also to those from all over the world who sent their answers online!
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