CFA: Coha-Gunderson Prize in Speculative Futures 2023-24

Call for submissions: The Coha-Gunderson Prize in Speculative Futures 2023-24

Deadline: January 25, 2024

The Speculatively Scientific Fictions of the Future THI project announces its fifth campus-wide competition, open to undergraduate and graduate students, for a creative piece of (social or scientific) speculative fiction, which can be in any medium or genre but must be available for review and assessment by selection committee members and ultimately shared with the public, whether through an exhibition, a performance, a proposed course, or future publication. Submissions may be individual or collaborative. It is preferred that submissions be based on actually existing worldly conditions, discernible in the submission itself.

UC Santa Cruz undergraduates and graduate students from any department in good academic standing may apply. Works may be collaborative. You must be an enrolled student at time of application. Students are ineligible to apply while on leave or in absentia. Depending on the number of applications, preference may be given to students able to participate in the 2024-2025 workshop and exhibition, although it is not required.

Up to five awards will be made of $1000 each in 2023-2024. Prizewinners who participate in the workshops and exhibition will receive a second $1000 award in 2024-2025. 

About the Award:
The Coha-Gunderson Prize in Speculative Futures is an annual competition made possible by UCSC alumni Peter Coha (Kresge ’78, Mathematics) and James Gunderson (Rachel Carson ’77, Philosophy, and UCSC Foundation Board Trustee). Previous prizewinning submissions have ranged from poetry to film to interactive science projects and a virtual reality experience. In Spring 2023, all thirteen prior winners of the Coha-Gunderson Prize presented their creative work in a variety of mediums at the exhibition Futurescapes: Projects from the Coha-Gunderson Collective. The exhibition was the culmination of a series of workshops throughout the academic year. The thirteen participants met biweekly for ten weeks to dialogue with campus experts, brainstorm their projects, plan the exhibit, and discuss some of the greater existential questions that arose: how can we think of the future without idealism but also without apocalyptic pessimism? What is the purpose of socially or scientifically relevant art, and can it intervene in the precarious present? How might thinking speculatively about the past impact the present and possible future?

The next exhibition will be held in Spring 2025. This year’s prizewinners will have the opportunity to more fully develop their projects through expert faculty guidance and peer review. They should be prepared (though it is not required) to participate in Winter 2025 (next academic year) Creativity Workshops that meet for approximately three hours every two weeks, including one logistical meeting before the quarter begins, to develop their submission for the exhibition. If prizewinners decide to participate in the workshops and exhibition in 2024-2025, they will be awarded an additional $1000 and given a supplies and materials budget.

To participate and receive this additional funding, prizewinners must reside in Santa Cruz in 2024-2025 and either be continuing students or provide evidence that they have access to the necessary equipment. Students may wish to have a faculty advisor who works with them on their project by supervising an independent study or tutorial. 

Please note that this is a two-year project: Awards will be made during the 2023-2024 academic year and the workshops and exhibition will be held during the 2024-2025 academic year. Winners are expected to participate in the Humanities Awards ceremony in Spring 2024.

To Apply:  Applications should include the following:

1) A brief 1-2 page description of the entry, including plans for further development if still in progress.

2) Your resume or CV 

3) The entry itself 

4) Your availability to participate in the 2024-2025 Creativity Workshops and Exhibition.

Please note that we have moved THI applications to a new application system, InfoReady. We encourage you to log in to create your profile and start your application as soon as possible to familiarize yourself with the InfoReady platform (you can save your application as a draft until you are ready to submit it). A detailed explanation is provided on the calls. 

Learn more and apply here.