Symbiotic Futures: Health, Well-being and Care in the Post-Covid World

A speculative design exploration into the future of symbiotic experiences, between people and the environments we live and work within

View Student Work


About this project

An introduction to Future Experiences 2022, and an overview of the key themes running through the project

Symbiotic Futures explores preferrable relationships between people and the environment in the post-Covid era where medical practice, health communities and cultures of care transform how we interact with each other, with professionals and the world around us.

Through a ‘Life-Centred’ design approach, participants helped envision a future world context to develop products, services and system experiences for the people and environments associated with it.

The project asked us to shift our design perspective by de-centering the human; to speculate on new symbiotic ways of caring for ourselves and the environment which are circular, culturally inclusive and mutually beneficial to people and planet.

Research and development has been undertaken by a dynamic community of practice, including final year Product Design students at Glasgow School of Art’s Innovation School and supported by the knowledge and expertise of academics and practitioners working across the domains of health, well-being and care. 


Project Launch Event

11th October 2021
Briefing and introduction to the project with students, staff and project partners

Expert Workshop One

14th/15th October 2021
Led by studio AndThen

Future Worlds Workshop

19th/20th October 2021
Led by Brian Proudfoot, GOODD

Expert Input Session One

21st October 2021
With academics and practitioners working across the domains of health, well-being and care

Part One Formative Review

29th October 2021
Review of the group stages of student’s work on their future world contexts

Expert Workshop Two

3rd/4th November 2021
Led by Will Brown, Return to Nature

Expert Input Session Two

11th November 2021
With academics and practitioners working across the domains of health, well-being and care

Part Two Interim Review

18th/19th November 2021
Concept review for the proposed future experience

Expert Input Session Three

30th November 2021
With academics and practitioners working across the domains of health, well-being and care

Part Two Formative Review

13th/14th December 2021
Presentation of individual project prototypes and outcomes

Project Partner

Institute of Cancer Sciences, University of Glasgow

The Institute of Cancer Sciences is part of a national centre of excellence in the fight against cancer. They carry out a programme of world-class science directed at understanding the molecular changes that cause cancer. They are working to translate scientific discoveries into new drugs or diagnostic and prognostic tools that benefit cancer patients, taking new therapies through preclinical and clinical trials. The Institute of Cancer Sciences is a major component of the Cancer Research UK West of Scotland Cancer Centre.



Nicol Keith

Institute of Cancer Sciences (ICS), Advanced Research Centre (ARC), University of Glasgow (UofG)

Nicol is Professor of Molecular Oncology and the Institute of Cancer Sciences Director of Research Impact at the University of Glasgow. Nicol is interested in how human-centric approaches to research that are transdisciplinary (post-discipline) and intergenerational can shape societal impact.


Jude Robinson

UofG, College of Social Sciences, ARC

Jude is a social anthropologist researching in the field of critical public health. She is a Professor of Health and Wellbeing and the Deputy Head of the College of Social Sciences at the University of Glasgow. Jude is Lead for the International Development theme in the Advancer Research Centre (ARC). Her research centres on developing understandings of how people can develop and sustain their health and wellbeing outside conventional health care settings, with a particular interest in the health of women and their children living on low income.


Chris Halsey

Institute of Cancer Sciences (ICS), UofG

Chris is a Senior Clinical Lecturer and an Honorary NHS Consultant Paediatric Haematologist. She carries out her NHS clinical duties at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Glasgow, where she cares for children with a wide range of malignant and non-malignant blood disorders. Her research laboratory is based in the Institute of Cancer Sciences.


Rob Jones

ICS, Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre, UofG

Rob is Professor of Clinical Cancer Research at the University of Glasgow and a medical oncologist consultant at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre. He is the Director of the Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Unit at Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre.


Tiziana Lembo

UofG, Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health & Comparative Medicine, ARC

Tiziana is a veterinary scientist with an interest in applied infectious disease epidemiology in complex multi-host environments. Tiziana focuses primarily on pathogens affecting the health and livelihoods of marginalised communities in low- and middle-income countries, as well as diseases of conservation concern.


Tina Onwuka

IARC/WHO, University of Port Harcourt School of Public Health Lagos, Nigeria

Tina is an epidemiologist and Visiting Research Fellow at IARC/WHO Lyon. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is an intergovernmental agency forming part of the World Health Organization (WHO) of the United Nations. Tina is from Nigeria where she is a health researcher working in Global Health.


Cary Adams

The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), Geneva

Cary is CEO of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). The UICC unites and supports the cancer community to reduce the global cancer burden, to promote greater equity, and to ensure that cancer control continues to be a priority in the world health and development agenda. It is the largest international cancer NGO of its kind, with some 1,200 member organisations represented in over 170 countries.


Olivia Wu

Institute of Health & Wellbeing, UofG

Olivia is Professor of Health Technology Assessment and Director of the Health Economics and Health Technology Assessment (HEHTA) Research Unit at University of Glasgow. She is also Director of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Complex Reviews Support Unit (CRSU) – a national methods support unit for evidence synthesis.


Azadeh Emadi

School of Cultural & Creative Arts, College of Arts, UofG

As a researcher and a video maker, Azadeh Emadi is deeply invested in interdisciplinary and intercultural approaches that cross over diverse cultural forms of knowledge and digital media arts. She is also interested to develop new pedagogies by integrating different cultural knowledge forms, and to develop curricula that bring together academic, creative practice and community engagement.


Manon Mathias

School of Modern Languages & Cultures, College of Arts, UofG

Manon’s research broadly examines the literary, visual, medical and scientific culture of nineteenth-century France. Recent work includes an examination of the cultural impact of bacteriology on attitudes towards dirt and hygiene in the second half of the nineteenth century. Manon is a member of the University of Glasgow Medical Humanities Network.


Leigh Abbott


Leigh is an Early Career Researcher in the Institute for Cancer Sciences . She is Project lead on Promoting and Supporting Neurodiversity in the workplace. This is a Wellcome Trust ISSF Project to enhance awareness of Neurodiversity in Higher Education.


Elisabeth de Vries

University Medical Centre, Groningen, Netherlands

Elisabeth is Professor of Medical Oncology at the University Medical Centre Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands. She is involved in patient care, teaching and research. Elisabeth is member of the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) Magnitude of Clinical Benefit Scale (MCBS) working group and chair of the ESMO Cancer Medicines Committee and was member of expert committee for the composition of the essential medicine list 2019 and 2021 of the World Health Organization (WHO).


Sara Macdonald

Institute of Health & Wellbeing, UofG

Sara is a primary care based medical sociologist. Sara’s research focuses on the public understanding of cancer and cancer risk and considers sources of information that help us make decisions about health and lifestyles. She has expertise in understandings of cancer risk, perceptions of screening, experiences of treatment burden and long term condition management and health of marginalised groups.


Harper VanSteenhouse

BioClavis & Lighthouse Lab, Glasgow

Harper is President of BioClavis based at The Teaching and Learning Centre at The Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. BioClavis is a molecular diagnostics company. During the Covid pandemic Harper took on the vital role of Site Director for the Glasgow Lighthouse Lab (Govt Covid testing site).


Nigel Jamieson

Institute of Cancer Sciences (ICS), UofG

Nigel Jamieson is a surgeon-scientist and Clinical Lead of the Glasgow Precision Oncology Laboratory’s (GPOL) Clinical Implementation group. Nigel is a clinical senior lecturer with the Institute of Cancer Sciences and honorary consultant pancreatic surgeon Glasgow Royal Infirmary.


Katie Gallacher

Institute of Health & Wellbeing, UofG

Katie is a Senior Clinical Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow. She sits on the National Advisory Committee for Stroke and the UK Stroke Forum Steering Committee. Katie works as GP partner 50% of her time and therefore has good insight into how research translates into clinical settings. She uses mixed methods research to conduct research focussed at improving the lives of older people and those with long-term conditions.


Mia Perry

UofG, College of Social Sciences, ARC

Mia is a Senior Lecturer in Community Development and Adult Education. She is the co-Director of Sustainable Futures. Mia is Deputy Lead for the International Development theme in the Advancer Research Centre (ARC). Mia works across many spaces of difference — disciplines, geographies, sectors, cultures. Mia is particularly interested in the interplay of humans and environments, the role of cultural practice and play in learning, and perspectives in research that account for plural views and ways of making meaning. She is co-director of the Sustainable Futures Global Network.


Jeff Evans

ICS, Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre, UofG

Jeff is Professor of Translational Cancer Research and Clinical Director for the Institute of Cancer Sciences, University of Glasgow, Honorary Consultant in Medical Oncology at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre, Glasgow, and Lead of the Glasgow Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC). His research interests are in the pre-clinical and clinical development of novel anti-cancer agents, and his clinical interests are in Upper GI Cancers and Melanoma. Jeff leads the Phase I clinical trials and drug development team in Glasgow.


Staff and Course Tutors

Kirsty Ross, Irene Bell, Bob McCaffrey, Rachael Sleight, Mil Stricevic, Sneha Raman, Zoë Prosser

Innovation School Expert group

Jay Bradley, Gordon Hush, Marianne McAra, Lynn-Sayers McHattie, Paul Smith, Bruce Tharp

External Experts

Santini Basra and Freya Harris (Studio Andthen), Brian Proudfoot (GOODD Design Consultancy), Lewis Just (Pawprint), Will Brown (Return to Nature), John Thorne (GSA Sustainability Coordinator)