South Projects: Call for projects

13 05 2022

How does the South design planetary futures?

What do design responses to climate change look like when they are grounded in the aspirations and struggles of those most affected? How
does design grapple with radical ecological interdependence in conditions of enduring injustice, everyday uncertainty, and rapid urban change?
As part of the Governing through Design research collective funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, South Designs invites project proposals that address these questions through creative, collaborative, and speculative practice.

South Designs: Call for projects



The global South designs, obviously. It does so relentlessly and often with urgency. These majority world projects and practices, however, are routinely overshadowed, coopted, or suppressed by institutions that govern in the name of resilience, sustainability, or development.
South Designs starts from the premise that to carry through
the promise of design against catastrophe, the South remains indispensable—not as a geographical location, but as an ethos
of engagement. The project asks what resilience means when it
is mobilized from the South, and how design can work for living landscapes and autonomous communities to foster global justice. Considering the colonial relations to which both “design” and the “global South” are tied, this prompt invites a fundamental questioning of design and points to a world beyond inherited geographical divides.

What we are looking for?

We call for speculative proposals, creative research, experimental projects, pragmatic design inquiry, and narrative interventions that respond to these central questions: How does the South design planetary futures? What do design responses to climate change look like when they are grounded in the aspirations and struggles of those most affected? How does design grapple with radical ecological interdependence in conditions of enduring injustice, everyday uncertainty, and rapid urban change?
Proposals may engage with design in its broadest possible
sense, including architecture, landscape design, spatial planning, environmental management, product design, bio-engineering,
digital technology, media and the creative arts. Topics of concern may include but are not limited to urban climate change adaptation, sustainable food systems, post-extractivism, extraction, water scarcity, toxicity and pollution, pastoralist futures, oceanic life worlds, indigenous ecologies, resource justice, urban mobility systems, and energy transition solutions.
We are particularly interested in collaborative, relational, and public- facing projects that are site-based, community-based or process- based and that can have enduring outcomes. Diverse project teams that bridge different registers of knowledge, practice, and identity are explicitly encouraged. We expect project teams to articulate the ethics of their Southern positioning in their proposal. The imagined project outcome(s) can be defined by the project team as part of the proposal, but it must have a visual or sound-based component for dissemination, with the copyright remaining with the producer under a CCBY license.

What we offer

Six proposals will be funded with a grant of 15,000 CHF each (including honorarium and production expenses), paid in three tranches over a maximum of two years. Each project will benefit from a peer network of support that will offer help for project development and execution. The final outcomes will be showcased through publications and an exhibition as part of the larger Governing through Design project.

How to apply

Please submit in an application comprising of the following elements:
• A proposal outlining the project and envisioned output(s) (max. 2000 words)
• A statement about the project team composition and skill set (we want to know why this is the right set of people to work on the proposed project) (max. 1000 words)
• A concise portfolio/proof of previous work (this should be selective and matter to the specific project proposed)
• One-page Curriculum Vitae for all project members
• A concise workplan and budget (max. 2 pages)
NB: Applications must be written and submitted in English. However, the final projects do not have to be carried out in English.
Applications must be submitted by midnight SAST on 28th of June 2022 via email to Laura Nkula at (cc’ing Incomplete applications or applications submitted after this date can unfortunately not be considered.
Questions can be submitted to Based on this, we added an FAQ sheet down below.


South Designs – FAQs

Updated 13/06/2022

By when does the project proposal have to be submitted?

The deadline for the submission of project proposals is the 28th of June, 2022. Please send your proposal via email to Laura Nkula at (cc’ing
What format should the proposal be submitted in?
To allow for an easy assessment of your proposal, please submit documents in common formats such as .pdf or .docx that can be opened without specialist software.

The call is very broad, what are your selection criteria?

We have kept the call deliberately open, to encourage a range of possible proposals. We are particularly interested in supporting collaborative, relational, and public-facing projects that are site-based, community-based or process-based and that can have enduring outcomes. Since we believe it takes diverse teams to translate between different registers of knowledge, we explicitly encourage collaborative practices, e.g. between academics and designers, community activists and creative practitioners, purpose-driven organizations and indigenous knowledge workers etc. We also expect an equitable distribution of labour, funds, and risks. Hence, we are asking all applicants to please articulate the team composition as well as the ethics of their Southern positioning as part of the proposal.

If my project is selected for funding, when can I start?

If your project is successful, we will draw up Terms of Reference based on your proposed workplan and budget, including dates and conditions for the dispersal of the three tranches of funding. Successful applicants will be notified after the 15th of July and the payment of the first tranche will be triggered once the TORs have been reviewed by all parties and finalized. The earliest date for this will be August 2022. The maximum running time of the project is 2 year from payment of the first tranche of funds.

Who can receive the funding? Can funds be received by personal accounts, or do we have to go through an institution?

The funding is explicitly geared towards supporting a range of applicants from different background, working in diverse teams. Hence, to receive the funding, it will not be necessary to be affiliated with a formal institution (such as an NGO or University). However, in the interest of keeping the financial administration on our part to a minimum and avoid unnecessary transaction costs, the project lead or designated project finance manager will be responsible for further dispensing the project funds after the reception of the respective tranche. This includes accounting for the funds spent (i.e. keeping a paper trail of expenses for yours and our books and ensuring funds are spent as per the Terms of Reference) and managing any national tax liabilities that might be associated with the transfer and reception of the funds.

Do I have to have a specific degree or a PhD to be eligible for funding?  

No specific qualification or degree is required to apply. Rather, we envision that your CV and that of your team reflects your experience and capabilities to complete the project, regardless of whether these were acquired through formal education or through ‘learning by doing’.

What costs are eligible for funding?

In general, we are bound by the global funding principles of the Swiss National Science Foundation. Please note that we will not be funding university/institutional overheads or the acquisition of technical equipment unless essential to the project (and then it should not make up more than 20% of the total funds). Furthermore, the funding does not constitute or entitle the recipient(s) to any form of employment with the University of Basel or the SNSF. Furthermore, as this is a subproject of a larger program, you may not refer to the support received from us as an SNSF grant that you have yourselves acquired.

What is the ‘peer network of support’ mentioned in the call? How will it work?

Once the six successful projects have been notified, due diligence has been completed and Terms of Reference reviewed and finalized, we will host a virtual workshop for all project teams. Here, we will chat through the specific goals, aims and expectations of each project team and what individual and collective support might be needed. We then imagine regular meetings and explicitly envision peer-support between projects. Furthermore, projects will also be able to draw on the project organizers and the scientific committee for feedback and advice to realize their project goals, both practically and intellectually.

Our collective is too big, can we also send a synopsis of our CVs?

We understand that in certain instances, attaching the CVs of all project members – for example in the case of indigenous collectives or larger community structures – attaching the CVs of all collaborators would go beyond the scope of the proposal. In this case, you’re welcome to just attach the CVs of the lead applicants and otherwise provide a synopsis of other collaborators.

Can we add people to the project after we have been selected?

Yes, if this will add to the realization of the project, then it is possible to add collaborators to the project team, even after your project has been selected and you have started the work. Just note that additional team members and collaborators will have to be accommodated within the existing allocated budget.

I am an academic/activist/designer/practitioner/artist and I think my project might fit the call. But I am unsure. Can I get your advice?

Yes! If you feel like you have a project that fits the bill but are unsure about how to submit, please do not hesitate to reach out to and we will try to assist you to the best of our ability.

Call launch: 13th of May 2022

Deadline for submissions of project proposals: 28th of June 2022

Notification of successful applicants: 15th of July 2022

Project Organizers:
Kenny Cupers, Laura Nkula

Scientific Committee:
Michelle Weitzel/Wangui Kimari/Ana María León/Huda Tayob/Gautam Bhan

Project organizers