RSA partnership with UNBOXED

Working together to explore imagination and creativity

Publication date

In late 2021, the RSA launched a partnership with UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK, and kicked off a global exploration project called ‘Collective Futures’ looking at the potential collective imagination and creative collaboration has to shape better futures for people and planet.

The RSA will complement the exciting work UNBOXED is leading on, and explore from a global and inclusive perspective, the value of taking a creative, collective, collaborative, and imaginative approach to shaping what our future could be. The exploration will answer the following question:

How might collective imagination and creative collaboration help shape better futures for people and planet?

The RSA will explore, learn from and share work from individuals, communities and organisations worldwide, focusing on examples which are bringing people together to act and shape a better future for people and planet.

  • COLLECTIVE: where diverse voices collaborate across diverse backgrounds, experiences, and mindsets, to change something that affects their own lives and places.

  • FUTURES FOCUSED: where the grounds for collaboration and participation are to creatively plan, design, imagine or envision desired long-term futures.

  • FOR PEOPLE AND PLANET: practices which recognise that social and ecological challenges are interconnected, and strive to create better futures for all life on earth.

This kind of work shows up in lots of different contexts, so the exploration will specifically look at work happening:

  • IN COMMUNITIES: from those who live in and care for a place, who are participating and collaborating to create better futures for both people and planet.

  • THROUGH LEARNING: from those in an educational context (formal or informal), who are participating and collaborating to create better futures for both people and planet.

  • AT WORK: from those within an organisation, who shapes jobs, services, and industries and who are participating and collaborating to create better futures for both people and planet.

Why is this work important?

We are living in a unique time in history where communities are formed not just locally, but globally. The economic, social and environmental challenges communities face, are both complex and systemic. Apathy is no longer an option, for humanity to thrive, we need to take action. The Collective Futures exploration is grounded in three core principles: openness, originality and optimism.

When responding to challenges, it is important to work in the open and be accessible. The RSA believe people must be at the heart of shaping their futures. To have real impact, practices need to be co-created with diverse voices and experiences.

We cannot respond to today’s challenges using the same ways of thinking that created them. We need radically different and original ways of collaborating and revitalising our ability to create and imagine, to move towards futures that meet our collective needs.

We need to shift towards acting in ways that benefit future generations. We cannot continue to think in short-term cycles leading to long-term negative consequences. Optimism can empower people to imagine a hopeful future and act now.  

How to get involved

There are many opportunities to engage with ‘Collective Futures’. The project will run in three phases.

  • Phase one saw an ‘open call’ which invited people globally to submit examples of what they are doing to help to shape better futures for people and planet.

  • In June 2022 phase two, the RSA will bring together practitioners to share work and co-design a best and future practice guide in the field of collective futures.

  • Finally in August – September 2022 phase three, they will share and test the guide in a series of hybrid global creative conversations – open to anyone with an interest and curiosity in collective futures.

If your work closely aligns with this exploration please email the team at unboxed@thersa.org.uk.

Who is the RSA?

The RSA are committed to a future that works for everyone, where we can all participate in its creation.

They have been at the forefront of social impact for over 260 years and demonstrate a proven change process, rigorous research, innovative ideas platforms and diverse global community of 30,000 problem-solvers delivering solutions for lasting change.