In February 2020, I was invited to speak and do workshops with over a hundred Grade 11 and 12 students about the future in the “2020 Vision into the Future” conference at Wilfrid Laurier University in Brantford, Ontario.
Journalist, urbanist and futurist Greg Lindsay gave a rousing keynote speech to start the conference. Greg spoke about the future of cities, technology, and mobility. Greg is the director of applied research at NewCities and director of strategy at its mobility offshoot CoMotion. He also co-authored the international bestseller Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next.
I joined a suite of technologists, visionaries and other scientists in presenting various scenarios of the future through workshops and seminars.
Workshop subjects included quantum cryptography, autonomous vehicles, flying cars, robotic surgery, zero waste, computer glasses, and writing science fiction.
Instructive seminars included topics such as feeding 9 billion people, mental health, AI & computers, the science and meaning of water, urban development, the future of transportation and space exploration.
How to Write Science Fiction
I gave two workshops on how to write science fiction. The workshop began with a brief discussion on what a story is (and is not) and a summary of the key tools of writing good story (e.g. premise, plot, theme, character, and setting) with a focus on world-building and the role of science.
|Most popular image prompt for storytelling|
Each group then set out to create the framework for a story based on a premise from an image prompt and shared what they’d put together. In one session we all worked together with me scribing on one whiteboard, creating together as a class; in another session, small groups formed and created their own story among four to five members as I went from team to team.
Amazing stories emerged in both cases from the image prompts chosen. Students demonstrated imaginative, mature and original premises and carried through with thoughtful and imaginative plot, theme and character journeys. I was very impressed.
The Science and Meaning of Water
In this seminar I gave a summary of water’s life-giving anomalous properties on Earth and discussed the history and field of limnology (study of freshwater). I explored our history with water (including our impacts) and the implications of climate change on our future with water on the planet. Points of interest included water’s many weird properties, water’s ubiquity and its origins, the hydrological cycle, and the often strange adaptations of life with (or without) water. We then discussed future implications of water scarcity (and geopolitical conflict) and some of the things individuals and communities can do. Much of the talk drew from my recent book Water Is… The Meaning of Water.