Not available in 2023/24
EU481 Half Unit
The Future: Political Responses to a Challenge
This information is for the 2023/24 session.
Dr Marta Lorimer
This course is available on the MSc in Comparative Politics, MSc in Culture and Conflict in a Global Europe, MSc in Culture and Conflict in a Global Europe (LSE & Sciences Po), MSc in Global Politics, MSc in Political Economy of Europe, MSc in Political Economy of Europe (LSE and Fudan) , MSc in Political Economy of Europe (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in Political Sociology and MSc in Public Policy and Administration. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.
The future is unknowable, but it can be made intelligible. It raises practical and conceptual problems, as well as reasons for conflict, but also promises to resolve contradictions. This course examines how the future is conceptualised in salient domains of contemporary politics, the implications arising for theory and practice, and the contestable assumptions on which perspectives rely. It investigates the methods by which the future is ordered, anticipated, and factored into the practice of government.
The course begins historically, looking at the future as an emerging theme in eighteenth-century European Enlightenment thought, the socio-cultural developments that prompted this, and some of the key features of its thematisation in the high-modern period. It goes on to examine future-oriented ideas, ideologies and practices as they arise in contemporary settings. Sessions move through the following themes: The Birth of the Future: Utopias in place and time; Sovereignty of the Living? Constitutional and political horizons; Socialism and the Future; Capitalism and the Future; In the Shadow of War; Debt, Accounting and other Practices of Quantification; Globalising and Privatising the Future: Climate change and generationalism; Planning for Emergency: Anticipation, pre-emption and preparation; In the Age of Algorithms and Tech; Democratising the Future. The course should provide students with a cross-disciplinary grasp of how present-day public affairs are shaped by the ways the future is conceived and acted upon.
20 hours of seminars in the Lent Term. This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of Lent Term.
A 2-hour review session will be held at the start of the Summer Term to prepare for the online assessment.
- One 1,500 word unassessed essay.
- A 10-12 minute class presentation.
• Nowotny, H. (2016), The Cunning of Uncertainty (Cambridge: Polity).
• Adam, B. & C. Groves (2007), Future Matters: Action, Knowledge, Ethics (Leiden: Brill).
• Innerarity, D. (2012), The Future and its Enemies (Stanford: Stanford UP).
• Beckert, J. (2016), Imagined Futures: Fictional expectations and capitalist dynamics (Harvard: Harvard UP).
• González-Ricoy, I. & A. Gosseries (2016), Institutions for Future Generations (Oxford: OUP).
• Koselleck, R. (2004), Futures Past: On the Semantics of Historical Time (NY: Columbia).
• Forrester, K. and S. Smith (eds) (2018), Nature, Action and the Future: Political Thought and the Environment (Cambridge: CUP).
• Thompson, D. (2010), ‘Representing future generations: political presentism and democratic trusteeship’, Critical Review of International Social & Political Philosophy 13 (1).
• Andersson, J. (2012), ‘The Great Future Debate and the Struggle for the World’, American Historical Review 117 (5).
• Urry, J. (2016), What is the Future? (Polity).
• White, J. (2017), ‘Climate Change and the Generational Timescape’, Sociological Review 65 (4).
Online assessment (100%) in the ST.
The online assessment for this course will be administered via Moodle. Questions will be made available at a set date/time and students will be given a set period in the ST to complete the answers to questions and upload their responses back into Moodle.
Department: European Institute
Total students 2022/23: 28
Average class size 2022/23: 14
Controlled access 2022/23: Yes
Value: Half Unit
Course selection videos
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Personal development skills
- Team working
- Problem solving