Tools and methods for uncertain times
*December 16 & 17, 2020
Application deadline: December 15, 2020

*Due to unforeseen circumstances, the Lab program has been rescheduled for December 16th and 17th.

RE:START is an immersive lab that will help participants “restart” within new norms and paradigms emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic. Over two days, this live online learning program will equip participants from all over the world with  proven creative tools and fresh perspectives to tackle design challenges of all kinds, whether brought about by the pandemic or not.  The program teaches the basics of futures thinking, speculative design and narrative theory, as participants work together to synthesize cross-industry insights and reveal opportunities that might have otherwise remained hidden in plain sight.

In the midst of already turbulent and uncertain times, COVID-19 has forever altered how we live and work, exacerbating existing structural challenges and exposing new ones. Restarting with new constraints means a series of difficult decisions. We have a mandate to reimagine the way we work, collaborate, and lead. 

As a globally shared experience, the pandemic is a common point of departure, from which traditional planning practices are no longer valid. This moment in history has paved the way for the redefinition of entire industries. What might be the function of air travel post-COVID? How might retail experiences be transformed? Now that we think about interiors differently, what new considerations might be necessary in real estate? How might leisure be redefined if we’re spending all of our time hyper-locally? How might we reimagine cultural experiences beyond the physical space, and make them more inclusive in the process? Answering these questions starts with making sense of what’s happening today and exploring its relationship to various future possibilities and probabilities.


At the Columbia University School of the Arts’ Digital Storytelling Lab (DSL), we create story-driven methodologies to shape culture-shifting narratives. RE:START harnesses the potential of this approach to create new worlds in which we can imagine our way into developing real life solutions to present challenges. Rather than a conventional lecture-driven format, the program offers an interactive learning experience that has created tangible results for individuals, teams, and organizations for over a decade. By the end of the program you will:

  • Understand and be able to apply the basics of futures thinking
  • Learn how to use tools like: back casting and strategic foresight
  • Learn about human centered design (design thinking) and understand its basic principles
  • Apply design thinking principles to speculative future scenarios
  • Use storytelling and narrative as tools to support business planning, and strategic action 


$895 (Live Online)

We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims.

Buckminster Fuller, American Architect, Systems Theorist, Author, Designer, Inventor, and Futurist