The 2041 Project

What does a positive climate future look like? How can we transform the systems we rely on? And even though climate change will inevitably bring disruption, can we envision a future where people find more connection and community?

The 2041 Festival: Imagining a Positive Climate Future

Saturday, April 23rd, 2022

11am-3:30pm

The 2041 Festival is a celebration of the ideas and imagination of over 200 community members who participated in collaborative worldbuilding workshops that challenged us to imagine what the world of 2041 might look, if we started working together now.

Featuring: Student Posters, Future Art Exhibition, Short Talks, Panel Discussions, Vegetarian Lunch, Live Demos, Interactive Timeline Exhibit and more!


About the 2041 Project

The 2041 Project is an ongoing interdisciplinary project of the A.J. Read Science Discovery Center, supported by the Corning Foundation, that uses the tools of worldbuilding to creatively imagine a realistic and positive future in which humanity is cooperating in the face of climate change. The 2041 Project is a powerful way to structure inquiry about the challenges of climate change.

The 2041 Project addresses climate change by applying the tools of world-building, typically used by science fiction and fantasy writers, game designers, and filmmakers, to collectively imagine a positive climate future. Through our workshops, the 2041 Project facilitators engage a broad range of people in thinking the unthinkable thought about climate change--not that it will be the end of humanity, but rather that it won’t.

2041 Project Corning Sustainable Futures Fellowship

The A.J. Read Science Discovery Center’s 2041 Project Corning Sustainable Futures Fellowship is accepting applications for funded fellowships this semester! Spring 2022 Fellows will work with their classes to develop presentations for the 2041 Festival, tentatively scheduled for Saturday, April 23, 2022:

  • Presentations (panels, posters, demonstrations, performances) will examine what a positive societal response to climate change could look like in the year 2041.
  • 2041 Project staff can set the stage with an in-class world-building workshop.
  • Fellowships award is $500 for the semester.
  • Funding for presentation supplies is also available.
  • Spring 2022 Fellowship concludes in May with a post-project reflection retreat.
  • Climate change is a species-wide challenge, so all disciplines are welcome!

How to apply:

Please email a brief description of your proposed project to Doug Reilly. It should include:

  1. Working title and description of activity (50 words or less), including how it will enhance or augment your existing course
  2. Possible outcomes: what might this activity produce that could contribute to the 2041 Project (50-100 words)
  3. What, if any, equipment or materials will be needed for this activity?

More about the Spring 2022 Fellowship

Classes can begin their project work by hosting a 2041 Workshop, which can take as little as one hour of class time. During the workshop, project facilitators will guide students in creating their own 2041 characters and helping build our project timeline based on the theme and discipline of the class.

The class will work on one or more projects to present during The 2041 Festival, staged during Earth Week/Green Dragon Week (Saturday, April 23) Presentations could include:

  • a panel discussion/debate about geoengineering projects,
  • a “TED” style event about the innovations and events that made fashion sustainable
  • a performance of by a music class imagining what kind of music might come out of climate-driven mass migration
  • a poster session on the 10 most important environmental concepts of 2041
  • a sculpture or 3D exhibit exploring the losses in life and habitat from climate disruption
  • a table-top demo about the how lighter-than-air transport replaced jet airliners
  • and that’s just a few ideas!

Learn More

Timeline

Explore our timeline, which presents a basic roadmap of events between now and 2041.

Podcast

In the 2041 Podcast Season 1, Independent Journalist Nadezh Moon explores the momentous changes happening in the year 2041, trying to illuminate the complex forces, actors, and events that have led to the present, fraught with danger but also hopeful for the first time in decades. Produced by SDC Graduate Intern Emma Sarnacki (who also plays Nadezh Moon) and with sound design by Andris Balin's Audio Arts IV and Studio Assistant I classes. The future is now!

Season 2 is currently in production and is due to air in March/April 2022. This limited series follows student journalist Hero Contreras as she crosses the country in a low-emissions airship, interviewing recent SUNY Oneonta graduates doing their National Service Year, and trying to unravel the mystery of Nadezh Moon's whereabouts.

Panel Discussion

A green triangle points to a green bike path and wind turbines in the foreground of a futuristic cityscape.

On April 20, 2021, the 2041 team presented a panel discussion from the future. The panel discussed a fascinating issue affecting SUNY Oneonta twenty years from now: some students have rejected dorm life and instead are living in the woods at College Camp. You can watch the panel discussion here.

Public Art Project

At the start of the Spring 2020 semester, over 100 SUNY Oneonta students in Dr. Brian Lowe's sociology classes and Ruben Salinas' computer art classes “traveled” into the future to collaboratively envision what the year 2041 might look like in a world that's taken major strides toward addressing climate change. During a full-day conference, students learned the basics of worldbuilding, heard from a climatologist about the realities of climate change today, examined the current visual culture of the campus, constructed a timeline of events that might occur between 2020 and 2041, and began brainstorming what the public art of the future, inspired by the WPA's posters of the New Deal. Future Art:

Explore a gallery of the students' work!

Graphic with world, a hand holding a hammer and text that reads: Be the change that saves the earth...join the youth service corps today!
Could a National Service Year unite our polity and create meaningful experiences for young people like the military draft did in the past?
Graphic of a hand throwing away a paper bag with a killer whale in it, while a police tape goes across that says Climate Crime Do Not Cross
Will climate crimes be prosecuted more widely in the future?
A farm landscape with the words Small Organic Farms in the sky and on the road in the foreground, the statement "On the Road for a Greener Tomorrow" and in the bottom left, the logo NFA for New Farms Administration.
Can the revitalization of small farms create a more resilient and sustainable food system?

Worldbuilding Ground Rules

Every worldbuilding project has rules or foundational concepts (physics, if you will). These are ours:

  1. Bad things will happen. Climate change will cause widespread disruption and calamity; surviving it will entail change and sacrifice.

  2. While we must recognize the worst-case-scenario, our future scenario is about what the best case scenario looks like in terms of how we act in the face of existential danger. What does a plausible but positive climate future look like?

  3. There are no easy outs. Surviving climate change will take a lot of work and collective action, and any workable solution will involve both technological innovation, radical changes in behavior, and massive projects to restore vital ecosystems.

  4. While hope might not be justified, we are called to be courageous.

  5. 5' of warming (the worst-case-scenario considered by the IPCC) is not acceptable.

Three visions of the future: a family farm, a green city and an urban farm.
What will the cities of the future really look like?
The 2041 Project is made possible by a gift from the Corning Foundation.
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