WhatIF Lab: Case Studies

Our research outputs transcend the disciplines by exploring possibilities, potentials, and the future through an innovative and immersive lens. 

In 2021, we formed a consortium of speculative fiction writers and scholars and came together to explore how creative writing skills can help researchers in diverse fields solve the grand challenges of the twenty-first century.

In 2020-2021, we helped to launch the Defence Innovation Bridge in partnership with the UQ Business School and the Department of Defence. The Defence Innovation Bridge aims to provide Australia with a new model for innovation by matching defence problems with solutions providers.
Wicked Thinking is a newsletter pioneered by Dr Skye Doherty that aims to shape a better future. The creators collaborate across disciplines and use research, workshops, stories, and provocations to think about the world's big challenges and what we can do to address them.
Postcards from Future Queensland was launched in 2020 in response to the initial Covid-19 lockdown. We asked high school and university students across Queensland to watch creative writing instructions that guided them to produce postcards from a better future. These were then published in a chapbook by Corella Press.
Launched in 2022, this collaboration between the UQ and the Australian Department of Defence, Science and Technology allowed researchers Dr. Helen Marshall, Prof. Kim Wilkins and Dr. Lisa Bennett to adapt story-telling techniques drawn from speculative fiction (across books, games, and screen) into materials that will help Defence personnel prepare for the potential disruptive effects of new technologies.

This near-future speculative fiction novel published in 2019 by Random House Canada finds parallels between the emergence of the Black Death in the fourteenth century and the ecological crises of the twenty-first century. Exploring periods when humanity has had to confront the possibility of widescale loss of life.
Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox is a visual artist and researcher driven by a keen interest in the risks of accelerating developments in contemporary and emerging technology. Her practice and research aims to stimulate new imaginational, literal, critical, and metaphoric perspectives of humanity’s current and future technological endeavours.
City Symphony is an augmented reality (AR) music experience overlaying Brisbane City, Australia. Spearheaded by Dr Eve Klein, the mobile app responds to a listener’s location, orientation, and real-time environmental data with unique music mixes and narrative journeys, and sonic games. Treating Brisbane like an open-world game enticing exploration and interaction.
This exciting creative project is run by UQ's Dr Natalie Collie in 2022 for 13-18 years old people living in or around Dalby, Jandowae, Tara and Chinchilla. Young people from each town participated in two-day creative workshops conducted in their respective town by award winning science fiction and fantasy author and illustrator, Isobelle Carmody.
Trusted Autonomous Systems (TAS) is a Defence cooperative research centre with a focus on autonomous and robotic technology. Collaborating with the Australian Department of Defence and its stakeholders they have created the Method for Ethical AI in Defence. Science fiction author, Joanne Anderton created narratives to test the framework.
In 2023, Associate Professor Helen Marshall, Dr Skye Doherty, Ms Joanne Anderson partnered with the Digital Cultures and Societies Hub, Associate Professor Nic Kaempf and Mr Volker Schimmel, the Director of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) ‘Global Data Service’ on a two-day scenario lab.