Pupul Bisht

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Founder / Decolonizing Futures Initiative

Pupul Bisht is a futurist and designer from India with a deep passion for exploring cultural plurality in contemporary design practices. With a Bachelor’s in Graphic Design from the prestigious National Institute of Design (India), Pupul moved to Toronto where she recently completed her Master’s in the Strategic Foresight and Innovation program from OCAD University. Her master's thesis explored the intersection of cultural foresight, storytelling, and epistemological pluralism.

With a belief that the stories we tell of our pasts shape our futures, Pupul has dedicated her multidisciplinary creative practice to uncovering narratives of alternative histories and marginalized futures that otherwise lie in under-explored nooks of our everyday world. Through the tool of storytelling, she hopes to move foresight outside organizational confines and engage in mass dialogue about our collective future as a civilization.

In 2018 Pupul won the inaugural Joseph Jaworski Next Generation Foresight Practitioners Award for her novel approach to foresight inspired by the Kaavad folk-storytelling tradition of India. As part of the award, she has launched the Decolonizing Futures Initiative that aims to engage marginalized communities in a conversation about their preferred futures in order to inform and inspire inclusive innovation & decision making in the real-world.


Decolonizing Futures through Inclusive Storytelling

What does the future look like?

Who owns/shapes these images of the future?

Whose identity, needs, and desires are not represented in these futures?

How might inclusive storytelling serve to decolonize these futures?

Born out of their own experience as an Indian student of Foresight, the primary objective of the Decolonizing Futures initiative is to bring epistemological plurality and cultural inclusivity in contemporary Foresight methodology. Foresight practitioners, spend a significant amount of time and effort in generating visions of desirable futures. However, the tools and methods used to support this inquiry often carry the limitations and biases of a ‘western’ worldview. Large scale projects that rely on Foresight methods for designing future-ready products, policies, and strategies, cannot afford to ignore this gap that further perpetuates inequity and power imbalance between stakeholder groups, alienating underserved and marginalized communities. As we work towards building a better world for everyone, we need tools to facilitate the process of challenging and re-articulating hegemonic ideas in favor of more collaborative and place-based approaches.

To address the glaring lack of non-western methodologies in Foresight, Pupul developed a new futures method inspired by the oral folk-storytelling tradition of Kaavad from Rajasthan, India. Designed to support and celebrate a diversity of perspectives in futures work, this innovative method has shown to be effective in inspiring transformative visions of the future that reflect the authentic worldview of its participants. By engaging in a conversation about their unique histories and challenges of their immediate environment, this methods encourages participants from historically marginalized communities to create visions of their preferred futures that reflect their distinct ideas of progress and are informed by their cultural ways of knowing, being, and doing.