Department of Utopian Arts and Letters

“Utopia gives us a direction, it orients our compasses. No matter where we are or what we are doing, it gives us a point to look to on a horizon, enabling us to see the different paths available, and to reorient ourselves”  

—Steve Duncombe and Steve Lambert, The Art of Activism  Department of Utopian Arts and Letters

The Department of Utopian Arts and Letters (DUAL) is a project of public dreaming born out of our deepest desires for decolonization, climate justice, and collective liberation. Taking inspiration from the US Department of Arts and Culture, and traditions of Afrofuturism, Indigenous resurgence, queer worldmaking, and speculative fiction, we operate within, across, and beyond official governmental and academic departments to create educational resources for the kinds of joyful futures we want to work toward. Without investing in naïve hope or magical thinking, we fundamentally understand that to prepare for and survive the unfolding, intersecting crises of the present, we need to expand our imagination beyond the “monocultures of the mind” that limit our creativity and thus our capacity to adapt.

Our faculty of artist-educators have designed courses for self-guided study using widely accessible resources that help us to imagine collective visions of green and just futures, and nurture the imaginative and relational skills to dismantle the systems that stand in our way. 

Courses begin with an orienting video; lessons then include reading, listening and viewing recommendations, prompts for reflection and conversation, and creative activities that inspire social activism and help us develop different ways of knowing, sensing, being, and relating. 

Courses are gift based and non-transactional. All videos, syllabi and resources are available on the Department of Utopian Arts and Letters’ Mighty Network platform.  

Current course offerings include the following: 

  • Peasant Futurisms: Cultivating Delicious Futures by Sanita Fejzić invites learning from peasant knowledges and practices of cooperative labour, mutual aid, subsistence farming, and self-sustainability to posit peasant futurisms as a joyful way of living locally and relationally that rejects forced ruptures from land and resist the compulsory digitization of life. Peasant futurisms is a call to transform capitalist cities into edible and wilder ecocities, with protected greenbelts and foodbelts, rooted in circular economies with the goal of growing more liveable and delicious p(l)easant futures for all.
    • Course code: delicious&pleasant
  • Crip Glam: Spells for Everyday Disability Activism by Julia Havard highlights the aesthetic interventions that queer and trans disabled people use to undo ableism, cissexism and heterosexism, and casts spells for crip femme futures, a distinctly femme and disabled approach to aesthetics and activism. The class supports learning about radical practices of disability arts and culture and practices of disability activism to underscore how the liberation of multiply-marginalized disabled people is integral to collective liberation.
    • Course code: URBOOTYFUL
  • Unsustainable Utopias by Meghan Moe Beitiks is an exploration of failed utopias across time and cultures so as to learn significant lessons from their failures and transitions into cults, militias, and closed communities. Deepen your understanding of how power, history and human psychology shape the experience and outcome of utopian projects before attempting to build your own utopia.
    • Course code: UUUPA
  • Critical Cat Studies by Nazli Akhtari offers guidance on how to learn with cats in ways that blur Euro-American centric ways of knowing and help us attune to more joyful, sustainable, and equitable ways of living and making worlds.
    • Course code: PUR2MUZE
  • Cookery and Intergenerational Codes of Memory by Aisha Leslie Bentham [coming soon]
  • The Slow Playwriting Project by Mariló Núñez [coming soon]

Contact Kimberly Skye Richards, librarian for the Department of Utopian Arts and Letters, at