Hitchhikers’ guides, virtual Charons, and the future of cultural objects

Application deadline: October 10, 2022
Application deadline: October 10, 2022 (you will be redirected to the ECIU website)


Challenge provider Museo degli usi e costumi della gente trentina
Instructor Francesca Odella
Period 17th October -13th December 2022
Application deadline October 10, 2022
Embedded micro-module Introduction to Futures Literacy Approach (6 hrs)
Challenge Hitchhikers’ guide
Challenge average workload 1 hours a day for 5 days a week for 6 weeks plus mentor meetings and presentations

Blended: partially in Trento, partially online, see calendar.
3 ECTS for ECIU students; 1 extra ECTS will be awarded to students who help the instructor do some paperwork during the challenge, e.g. translating materials from Italian into English and similar.


About the challenge

NEW: CLOSING EVENT on Tue 12 Dec, 19.00 at the SoI or online
Students present their solutions to the Challenge provider!
Watch live online on Zoom! – Passcode: 141125 (open access)

This initiative is aimed at discussing scenarios or long-term changes in the creation, distribution, and consumption of cultural objects. The perspective that will be applied in the challenge is inspired by the idea that the future is not completely traced by the past but may offer innovative and challenging opportunities to human societies and if positively inspired to reverse discriminative practices and homogeneity pressures that permeate mainstream cultural offers and the artistic markets.

The future studies approach offers the possibility to introduce students to analysis of complex societal and global dynamics and interdependence between technological and social change. Futures envisioning suggests thinking about the futures as factual spaces where to situate our preferences in terms of social interactions, work, and daily life and where our public and citizenship rights can be acted.
The challenge encourages students, organised in multidisciplinary teams, to address critical aspects of the transformation of cultural objects with a fresh attitude, evaluating the variety of possible progresses and their unexpected social, technological, and economic implications. The instance of our challenge provider – an ethnographic museum – will offer the teams an opportunity to discuss and explore cultural and social trends, such as the preservation and diffusion of folklore and culture of European ethnic and linguistic minorities, the standardisation of cultural products offered in social media and on demand platforms, and the marketization of heritage and man-made landscapes.

About the challenge provider

The ‘Museo degli usi e costumi della gente trentina’ (www.museosanmichele.it) is a regional based ethnographic museum situated nearby Trento (IT); its collection of artifacts from alpine traditional culture is very extensive and spans from everyday tools for artisans (wood carving, weaving, etc.) and farmers, to artistic objects and folklore expressions. It also hosts an extensive visual and documentary archive of carnivals and feasts related to religious and popular traditions in Europe. The Ethnographic Museum organizes photographic and analytic exhibitions dedicated to alpine culture, exploring the multiple connections between communities and the environment, and is a well-known research institution in the Italian ethnographic scene.

Target Groups

Consumers aged 14 yrs onward.

The challenge

Current state
Quantify the need

The Ethnographic Museum promotes the challenge and offers its own study case as a baseline for discussion and exploration of the future of cultural objects. The teams will develop different projects situating the museum inside different futures scenarios to be imagined and described by implementing the Futures Literacy approach.

Qualitative insights

Some scenarios may include the museum as the principal subject, other scenarios may depict a future where the traditional museum is no longer present and is substituted by other forms of cultural transmission; finally, other scenarios may even foresee no future for the preservation of traditional culture.

These imagined futures for the Museum will give the opportunity to envision a long-term perspective for local-based ethnographic museums, to invent a new role for artifacts from the past, and discuss the role of cultural and educational institutions (civic and public organizations and local governance actors).

Assessment and expectations

Desired state

Developing the futures scenarios for the Ethnographic Museum, the participants will have the opportunity to reflect on the duality nature of culture as an agent of differentiation and bonding in European societies, as well as to investigate the relationship between identities and cultural objects in a virtualized and globalized world. Specifically, we want to involve the participants in two main goals:

  • first, to offer the challenge provider an inquiry of opportunities to develop projects that potentially involve its community of reference (terroir);
  • and second, to learn and apply the Future Literacy approach to open up new horizons for sustainable and inclusive societies.

Learning offering details

(changes may apply)
Mon 17 Oct15.00-18.00Welcome to Trento (ECIU students only) – Team building and meeting with mentor(s) at DSRS.in Trento
Tue 18 Oct9.00-12.00Meetings with Unitn delegates for International Relations, SOI e DSRS – City Tour (ECIU students only)in Trento
Tue 18 Oct15.00-17.00Introduction to Futures Literacy (Odella) – Seminar at DSRSin Trento
Wed 19 Oct10.00-12.00Visit to the challenge provider Museo S. Michele (Ethnographic Museum)S. Michele all’Adige
Wed 19 Oct15.00-18.00CHALLENGE KICK-OFF – Public event at the Museo S. MicheleS. Michele all’Adige/ online streaming
Thu 20 Oct15.00-17.00Tools and Methods for Futures Literacy. (Odella/Poli) – Seminar at DSRS.In Trento
Thu 20 Oct17.00-19.00Teams meet the mentor(s) – Project  action plan (DSRS)In Trento
Fri 21 Oct9.00-12.00Tools and Methods for Futures Literacy (Odella) – Seminar at DSRSIn Trento
Thu 27 Oct17.00-19.00Teams meet the mentor(s) – Project Action plan (DSRS)Blended: in person/ online
Tue 8 Nov11.00-13.00
‘Memory across Generations’- Inspirational lecture at the Museo S. Michele (Ethnographic Museum) – Following: Pitch of projects with feedback and discussion (DSRS)S. Michele all’Adige/ online
Thu 17 Nov17.00-19.00Teams meet the mentor(s) – Project action plan (DSRS)Blended: in person/ online
Thu 24 Nov19.00-21.00On demand mentorship – Project  action plan (DSRS)online
Thu 1 Dec19.00-21.00Teams meet the mentor(s) – Project action plan (DSRS)Blended: in person/ online
Tue 6 Dec19.00-21.00On demand mentorship – Project action plan (DSRS)online
Mon 12 Dec19.00-21.00CLOSING EVENT – Teams introduce their solutions – (SOI)
Watch live online on Zoom! – Passcode: 141125
Blended: in person/ online
Tue 13 Dec17.00-19.00Award ceremony at the Museo S. Michele (Ethnographic Museum)S. Michele all’Adige/ online streaming
Other information

Language requirement: English B2 Level, CEFR

Mobility resources

Kick-off, museum visit, and first meeting are in presence in Trento. The rest of the challenge is blended (online for ECIU participants, in presence for UniTrento students).
ECIU students can ask for funding information at their home University.

Acquired competencies

  • Understand Futures Literacy approach,
  • Design and develop human governance scenarios,
  • Intercultural competences,
  • Communication skills,
  • Multidisciplinary teamwork.

Contact Details

Teamcher Name & Email address Francesca Odella, francesca.odella@unitn.it

Application deadline: October 10, 2022