DigitalFUTURES is an educational initiative launched in 2011. It was born of a collaboration between China and the United States, when Neil Leach brought a group of students from USC to China to collaborate with Philip Yuan at the College of Architecture and Urban Planning (CAUP) in Tongji University, Shanghai. Over the years, DigitalFUTURES has organized an annual series of activities consisting of workshops, lectures, conferences, and exhibitions hosted over the summer months by Tongji University. Instructors from some of the leading schools of architecture have been invited to run workshops, and leading architects and scholars have been invited to present papers at the conference. It also spawned a series of book publications, a peer reviewed journal and an international PhD program.
In the summer of 2020 and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we launched DigitalFUTURES World, an online festival of free architectural workshops and talks. At the height of the pandemic, we called upon architects and instructors around the world to come together in a spirit of solidarity for the benefit of students across the globe. The result was an outstanding success. We hosted 80 different workshops and 50 talks, and received over 12,000 applications from across the globe.
With a particular emphasis on the latest computational design and fabrication technologies, we also want to address broader ethical and social issues of education by aiming to form an ever-growing repository of knowledge, accessible for everyone.
With DigitalFUTURES World we felt that we had managed to break through the walls of the classroom, and opened up an extraordinary new domain where educational ideas could be disseminated for free. Moreover, we realised that we could use our online platform to reach students in even the most economically underprivileged parts of the world.
We at DigitalFUTURES are committed to cultivating a culture of inclusion and connectedness through the free sharing of knowledge and computational design ideas. Over the past decade, we have sought to improve ways of learning together, supported by our diverse team of organizers, educators, and participants, drawn from every continent around the world (except Antarctica), all of whom give their time for free.
We aim to offer open access to educational ideas, and break down barriers of attendance by live-streaming workshops, lectures, and talks on the web. Our digital and physical events have been designed to encourage a collaborative atmosphere facilitating the contributions of all who participate. We take carefully consideration of our global community and seek to maximize access to education for all, regardless of opinions, culture, ethnicity, race, sex, gender identity and expression, nation of origin, age, languages spoken, veteran’s status, color, religion, disability, sexual orientation and beliefs. We believe that this approach to diversity and open access will offer a means of challenging existing barriers and mechanisms of exclusion within the design fields. We seek to achieve this through our evolving efforts to represent diverse instructors, students, and speakers. We strive to do our best and listen to the concerns of our diverse communities. Please reach out to us if you have any questions to ask or suggestions to offer on ways of improving our continuous attempts at outreach.
We at DigitalFUTURES would like to thank all those who have generously given their time and effort to contribute to this InclusiveFUTURES series of events. Our volunteer-based global festival offers a platform for the sharing of computational design and educational ideas for less privileged communities and those in need.