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Surviving the Apocalypse

Romain Chenet
Romain Chenet

Module Leader

Option - Second and Final Years
Term 2
10 x 2 hour workshops

Not available to students outside GSD

This module is based on interlinked and contemporary crises that human societies face, with a focus on their contextual history. It considers past responses and initiatives in the light of apocalypse(s), looks to those living in the margins, and aims to understand and respond to roots of crises. Please note that this module is highly experiential and includes a continuously updating set of inspirations by being focused on an ever-unfinished world. This means this outline can only be a tiny glimpse into a much fuller experience and, for grounded and personalised views of the module, I recommend you kindly ask fellow students that have taken it to share their opinions with you.

Principal Aims

The module aims to facilitate a co-produced approach to social, economic, and political disorder, and to explore their links to eco-systemic breakdown. Students are not taught by a subject 'expert', but rather invited to forward independent ideas on contemporary crises by exploring the possibilities and limitations of different responses. The module aims to facilitate a collaborative, student-centred learning environment, requiring a self-directed and curious approach to encountering the world's development challenges through the deliberate provocation of 'apocalypse'.

The rationale behind the course is a suggestion that human societies are unable to respond to crises faced not because of inadequate ideas, but because of methods of thinking that dominate - including in university contexts. The module thus also aims to collaboratively leverage 'education' in developing responses to crises.

Principal Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module students should:

  • be able to critically reflect on understandings of the crises faced by human societies;
  • be able to design an intervention into processes which are precipitating, or emerging from, contemporary crises;
  • be able to reflect critically on potential successes and failures of past interventions, including 'Development' itself.

Indicative Syllabus

Weeks 1 - 3: Conceptual and contextual framings

  • Introduction: Crises and survivals in current times
  • Crises of understanding and action across history and the present
  • Frameworks for understanding in, from, and beyond education

Weeks 4 - 5: Responses to future(s)

  • Individualised and elite responses in our odd world
  • Navigating the potential and pitfalls of grassroots, collective, and activist efforts

Weeks 6 - 8: Project ideas and development

  • Project dialogue and support session
  • Considering fiction and unusual case focuses in studying apocalyptic conditions
  • Students' proposal presentations

Weeks 9 - 10: Outcomes

  • Discussing creativity and creation: audio-visual week
  • Revision and reflections: 'success', 'failure' and 'survival'



1 x 15 minute proposal presentation (20%)

1 x 2500 word (or creative 'equivalent' length) project (50%)

1 x 1500-word or 3x 500-word reflection(s) (30%)

  Please note: Module availability and staffing may change year on year depending on availability and other operational factors. The School for Cross-faculty Studies makes no guarantee that any modules will be offered in a particular year, or that they will necessarily be taught by the staff listed on this page.