Skip to content.
HEA logo ADM logo

Making Futures: The Crafts in the Context of Emerging Global Sustainability Agendas

Mount Edgcumbe House and Country Park, Nr Plymouth, Devon
17 September 2009 00:00 - 18 September 2009 00:00

‘Making Futures’ will be held on Thursday 17th and Friday 18th September 2009 within the magnificently sited Mount Edgcumbe estate on the River Tamar opposite the city of Plymouth, Devon, UK.

Conference Aims

The aims of the ‘Making Futures’ research conference are to improve understanding of the ways in which the contemporary crafts are responding to ideas and agendas connected with global environmental and sustainability issues. Also, to try to discern whether these new imperatives present opportunities for the crafts to redefine and reconstitute themselves as less marginalised, more centrally productive forces in society.
The crafts, perhaps more than many areas of creative practice, have instinctively strong affinities with concerns for environmentally responsible and sustainable development. For example, Western craft ideals (perhaps less so realities) have typically sought to mobilise aesthetic experience as a key dimension and expression of responsible living in the face of mass industrialization - through their empathy with natural materials and the natural world, and through ‘slow’ and cooperative models of living. Indeed, important initiatives in pursuit of ethical and sustainable development objectives continue to take place within craft enterprises and agencies today. But the fact remains that our understanding of the interactions between the contemporary crafts and the modern environmental and sustainability ‘movements’ remains largely uncharted, unrepresented and under-theorised.
‘Making Futures’ takes up this challenge and will explore the ways in which environmental and sustainability discourses might be leading to new formulations, or re-articulations, of craft practices, identities, positions and markets, in ways that might engage more directly with contemporary social, cultural and economic needs. Perhaps even, to recover ideological purpose.

Keynote Speaker: Professor Richard Sennett (USA)


The draft conference programme is now available at:
The three calls for abstracts generated an excellent response and the quality was generally very high. We received a broad range of proposals that included both practice-based case studies and more historical and theoretical treatments. The final selection was made on the advice of the Peer Review Panel who double blind peer-reviewed each abstract. The draft programme gives a sense of the overall shape to the conference and will be detailed up once papers have been confirmed. We look set for what should be an important and enjoyable Conference.


Places will be limited. The organisers intend to restrict numbers to approximately 120 so that there can be an intense engagement around the theme, albeit in a relaxed and informal setting conducive to high levels of delegate interaction. Places will be sold on a first come first served basis, although sufficient will be reserved for a period for all authors of abstracts that have been accepted. Please register via:

Contact Email:

< back