Gemma Jones

Gemma Jones

Co-founder _ School of Critical Design

Interdisciplinary cultural researcher and strategist specialising in semiotics and futures thinking

Gemma is an Amsterdam based researcher and strategist specialising in semiotics, cultural insight and futures thinking.  Her work explores the connections between people and their bodies, habitats, communities and planet.  She works with designers and communicators to create experiences and strategies with imagination, cultural resonance and bravery.

In the decade since her masters in Culture and Creative Industries at Kings College, Gemma has worked on innovation, brand strategy and design projects with organisations including Microsoft, United Nations, IHG, PepsiCo and HB Reavis.   She guest lectures a course on critical research methods for design on MA Strategic Design HFG Schwäbisch Gmünd. She is a co-founder of the School of Critical Design, a forum for exploring and teaching experimental methods for design and business to address critical social and environmental issues.  


Darwin Comes to Town: How the Urban Jungle Drives Evolution
Menno Schilthuizen is one of a growing number of urban ecologists studying how our manmade environments are accelerating and changing the evolution of the animals and plants around us. In Darwin Comes to Town, he takes us around the world for an up-close look at just how stunningly flexible and swift-moving natural selection can be.
June 14, 2021
Deep Adaptation: Navigating the Realities of Climate Chaos
‘Deep adaptation’ refers to the personal and collective changes that might help us to prepare for – and live with – a climate-influenced breakdown or collapse of our societies. It is a framework for responding to the terrifying realization of increasing disruption by committing ourselves to reducing suffering while saving more of society and the natural world.
August 25, 2021
Anthropocene or Capitalocene? : Nature, History, and the Crisis of Capitalism
The Earth has reached a tipping point. Runaway climate change, the sixth great extinction of planetary life, the acidification of the oceans - all point toward an era of unprecedented turbulence in humanity's relationship within the web of life. But just what is that relationship, and how do we make sense of this extraordinary transition?
June 14, 2021
Circa Lunar: A conversation with Ted Hunt and Gemma Jones
School of Critical Design Co-founder and cultural semiotician Gemma Jones sat down for a long-distance chat with Fellow Ted Hunt to talk about his latest project, Circa Lunar
November 27, 2020
New Kind of Design
Evening lecture/ 23 July 2019
October 9, 2018
This is Not a Drill
Extinction Rebellion is a global activist movement of ordinary people, demanding action from Governments. This is a book of truth and action. It has facts to arm you, stories to empower you, pages to fill in and pages to rip out, alongside instructions on how to rebel - from organising a roadblock to facing arrest.
October 30, 2020
Speculative Everything
In Speculative Everything, Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby propose a kind of design that is used as a tool to create not only things but ideas. For them, design is a means of speculating about how things could be -- to imagine possible futures.
October 30, 2020
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate
Forget everything you think you know about global warming. It's not about carbon - it's about capitalism. The good news is that we can seize this crisis to transform our failed economic system and build something radically better.
October 30, 2020
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep
World War Terminus had left the Earth devastated.
October 30, 2020
The Value of Everything
The Value of Everything reigniteS a long-needed debate about the kind of world we really want to live in.
October 30, 2020
Extrapolation Factory - Operators Manual
In The Extrapolation Factory Operator’s Manual, Montgomery and Woebken illuminate their work to democratize futures research, elucidating strategies culled from think tanks and futurists as well as models and techniques they've developed for organizing collaborative futures explorations.
October 30, 2020
New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future
In his brilliant new work, leading artist and writer James Bridle offers us a warning against the future in which the contemporary promise of a new technologically assisted Enlightenment may just deliver its opposite: an age of complex uncertainty, predictive algorithms, surveillance, and the hollowing out of empathy. Surveying the history of art, technology and information systems he reveals the dark clouds that gather over discussions of the digital sublime.
October 30, 2020
Synthetic Aesthetics: Investigating Synthetic Biology's Designs on Nature
After chapters that introduce the science and set the terms of the discussion, the book follows six boundary-crossing collaborations between artists and designers and synthetic biologists from around the world, helping us understand what it might mean to 'design nature.'
October 30, 2020
Hertzian Tales: Electronic Products, Aesthetic Experience, and Critical Design
Very little has changed in the world of design since Hertzian Tales was first published by the Royal College of Art in 1999, writes Dunne in his preface to this MIT Press edition: "Design is not engaging with the social, cultural, and ethical implications of the technologies it makes so sexy and consumable." His project and proposals challenge it to do so.
October 30, 2020
The Uninhabitable Earth: A Story of the Future
Over the past decades, the term "Anthropocene" has climbed into the popular imagination - a name given to the geologic era we live in now, one defined by human intervention in the life of the planet. But however sanguine you might be about the proposition that we have ravaged the natural world, which we surely have, it is another thing entirely to consider the possibility that we have only provoked it, engineering first in ignorance and then in denial a climate system that will now go to war with us for many centuries, perhaps until it destroys us. In the meantime, it will remake us, transforming every aspect of the way we live-the planet no longer nurturing a dream of abundance, but a living nightmare.
October 30, 2020
The Architecture of Collapse: The Global System in the 21st Century
Why are there so many crises in the world? Is it true that the global system is today riskier and more dangerous than in past decades? Do we have any tools at our disposal to bring these problems under control, to reduce the global system's proneness to instability? These are the tantalizing questions addressed in this book.
October 30, 2020
Signs: An Introduction to Semiotics
The interpretive science of semiotics offers powerful analytical tools for the application of many disciplines to the study of perception. Semiotics is the study of signs, and as such, is of relevance to a wide spectrum of scholars and professionals, including social scientists, psychologists, artists, graphic designers, and students of literature.
October 30, 2020
The Anthropology of the Future
Study of the future is an important new field in anthropology. Building on a philosophical tradition running from Aristotle through Heidegger to Schatzki, this book presents the concept of 'orientations' as a way to study everyday life.
October 30, 2020
A Sustainist Lexicon: Seven Entries to Recast the Future - Rethinking Design and Heritage
Words are our first tools for making sense of the world. A SUSTAINIST LEXICON presents seven words for a changing time. In this timely exploration of our cities, heritage, civic initiatives, urbanism and the future, Michiel Schwarz, co-creator of the Sustainism manifesto, charts how a new ethos and praxis is emerging in the ‘design’ of our living environment.
October 30, 2020
No denunciation without its proper instrument of close analysis, Roland Barthes wrote in his preface to Mythologies. There is no more proper instrument of analysis of our contemporary myths than this book--one of the most significant works in French theory, and one that has transformed the way readers and philosophers view the world around them.
October 30, 2020
Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economy
Unforeseen financial crises. Extreme wealth inequality. Relentless pressure on the environment. Can we go on like this? Is there an alternative?
October 30, 2020
Speed and Politics
With this book Paul Virilio inaugurated the new science whose object of study is the "dromocratic" revolution. Speed and Politics (first published in France in 1977) is the matrix of Virilio's entire work.
October 30, 2020
Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to play itself out?
McKibben argues that we have failed to recognize how individual actions often operated against our collective interest, and as a result we now face three daunting challenges - to adjust to a new life on a broken planet, to fight the hyper-individualism that now animates government and business; and to reverse the ways that technology is bleaching out the variety of human existence. He asks if we still retain the tools and social capital to fight these larger forces - and if we are willing to make the effort.‍
October 30, 2020
Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming
For the first time ever, an international coalition of leading researchers, scientists and policymakers has come together to offer a set of realistic and bold solutions to climate change. All of the techniques described here - some well-known, some you may have never heard of - are economically viable, and communities throughout the world are already enacting them. From revolutionizing how we produce and consume food to educating girls in lower-income countries, these are all solutions which, if deployed collectively on a global scale over the next thirty years, could not just slow the earth's warming, but reach drawdown: the point when greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere peak and begin todecline. So what are we waiting for?
October 30, 2020
How to do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy
Nothing is harder to do these days than nothing. We find every last minute captured, optimised, or appropriated as a financial resource for the technologies we use daily. We consume algorithmic versions of ourselves, submit our free time to numerical evaluation, and maintain personal brands in digital space. After the American presidential election of 2016, Jenny Odell felt so overstimulated and disoriented by information, misinformation, and the expressions of others, that reality itself seemed to slip away. How To Do Nothing is her action plan for resistance. Drawing on the ethos of tech culture, a background in the arts, and personal storytelling, Jenny Odell makes a powerful argument for refusal: refusal to believe that our lives are instruments to be optimised.
October 30, 2020
The Shock of the Anthropocene: The Earth History and Us
Dissecting the new theoretical buzzword of the Anthropocene The Earth has entered a new epoch: the Anthropocene. What we are facing is not only an environmental crisis, but a geological revolution of human origin. In two centuries, our planet has tipped into a state unknown for millions of years. How did we get to this point? Refuting the convenient view of a human species that upset the Earth system, unaware of what it was doing, this book proposes the first critical history of the Anthropocene, shaking up many accepted ideas: about our supposedly recent environmental awareness, about previous challenges to industrialism, about the manufacture of ignorance and consumerism, about so-called energy transitions, as well as about the role of the military in environmental destruction. In a dialogue between science and history, "The Shock of the Anthropocene" dissects a new theoretical buzzword and explores paths for living and acting politically in this rapidly developing geological epoch."
October 30, 2020
Utopia or Oblivion: The Prospects for Humanity
A classic of utopian literature, more urgent than ever: Buckminster Fuller's provocative blueprint for the futureComposed of lectures given by Buckminster Fuller throughout the world in the 1960s, Utopia or Oblivion presents the thesis that humanity, for the first time in its history, has the opportunity to create a world where the needs of 100% of humanity are met. Fuller's grandson, in the introduction, refers to this selection as "hardcore Bucky," as these essays display Fuller's investigations into mathematics, geometry and how they intersect with the arts, music and world peace. In Fuller's words, "This is what man tends to call utopia. It's a fairly small word, but inadequate to describe the extraordinary new freedom of man in a new relationship to universe--the alternative of which is oblivion.
October 30, 2020
Choices, Values and Frames
This book presents the definitive exposition of 'prospect theory', a compelling alternative to the classical utility theory of choice.
October 30, 2020
The Decade We Could Have Stopped Climate Change: Losing Earth
In the book Losing Earth, Rich is able to provide more of the context for what did – and didn’t – happen in the 1980s and, more important, is able to carry the story fully into the present day and wrestle with what those past failures mean for us at the beginning of the twenty-first century. It is not just an agonizing revelation of historical missed opportunities, but a clear-eyed and eloquent assessment of how we got to now, and what we can and must do before it's truly too late.
October 30, 2020
The emergence of objectivity in the mid-nineteenth-century sciences, as revealed through images in scientific atlases-a story of how lofty epistemic ideals fuse with workaday practices. Objectivity has a history, and it is full of surprises. In Objectivity, Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison chart the emergence of objectivity in the mid-nineteenth-century sciences-and show how the concept differs from its alternatives, truth-to-nature and trained judgment.
October 30, 2020
Lo-Tek: Design by Radical Indigenism
With a foreword by anthropologist Wade Davis and four chapters spanning Mountains, Forests, Deserts, and Wetlands, this book explores thousands of years of human wisdom and ingenuity from 18 countries including Peru, the Philippines, Tanzania, Kenya, Iran, Iraq, India, and Indonesia. We rediscover an ancient mythology in a contemporary context, radicalizing the spirit of human nature.
October 30, 2020
Being Ecological
Don't care about ecology? This book is for you. Timothy Morton, who has been called 'Our most popular guide to the new epoch' (Guardian), sets out to show us that whether we know it or not, we already have the capacity and the will to change the way we understand the place of humans in the world, and our very understanding of the term 'ecology'.
October 30, 2020
The Future We Choose: Surviving The Climate Crisis
We can survive the climate crisis. This book shows us how.We have two choices for our future, which is still unwritten. It will be shaped by who we choose to be right now. So, how can we change the story of the world?
October 30, 2020
Manifestly Haraway: 37 (Posthumanities)
Electrifying, provocative, and controversial when first published thirty years ago, Donna Haraway’s “Cyborg Manifesto” is even more relevant today, when the divisions that she so eloquently challenges—of human and machine but also of gender, class, race, ethnicity, sexuality, and location—are increasingly complex. The subsequent “Companion Species Manifesto,” which further questions the human–nonhuman disjunction, is no less urgently needed in our time of environmental crisis and profound polarization.
October 30, 2020
Are Prisons Obsolete
Since the 1980s prison construction and incarceration rates in the U.S. have been rising exponentially, evoking huge public concern about their proliferation, their recent privatisation and their promise of enormous profits. But these prisons house hugely disproportionate numbers of people of colour, betraying the racism embedded in the system, while studies show that increasing prison sentences has had no effect on crime. Here, esteemed civil rights activist Angela Davis lays bare the situation and argues for a radical rethinking of our rehabilitation programmes.
November 2, 2020
Utopia as a Method
In this major new work by one of the leading writers on Utopian Studies, Ruth Levitas argues that a prospective future of ecological and economic crises poses a challenge to the utopian imaginary, to conceive a better world and alternative future. Utopia as Method does not construe utopia as goal or blueprint, but as a holistic, reflexive method for developing what those possible futures might be
November 2, 2020
Parable of the Sower
We are coming apart. We're a rope, breaking, a single strand at a time.America is a place of chaos, where violence rules and only the rich and powerful are safe. Lauren Olamina, a young woman with the extraordinary power to feel the pain of others as her own, records everything she sees of this broken world in her journal.Then, one terrible night, everything alters beyond recognition, and Lauren must make her voice heard for the sake of those she loves.Soon, her vision becomes reality and her dreams of a better way to live gain the power to change humanity forever.
November 2, 2020
Semiotics of Disaster
Evening Lecture/ 28 April 2020
November 14, 2020
Futures, Power & Privilege
Evening lecture/ 6 August 2020
November 14, 2020
Introducing our Institutional Partnerships
We have created an institutional partnership package for organisations looking to engage in next design and business practice as a part of their strategy and culture.
November 2, 2020
Reimagining Time
Evening Lecture/ 17 September 2019
November 14, 2020
In Exhalation, Ted Chiang wrestles with the oldest questions on earth – What is the nature of the universe? What does it mean to be human? – and ones that no one else has even imagined. And, each in its own way, the stories prove that complex and thoughtful science fiction can rise to new heights of beauty, meaning, and compassion.
October 30, 2020
Thinking in Systems: A Primer
Thinking in Systems is a concise and crucial book offering insight for problem-solving on scales ranging from the personal to the global. This essential primer brings systems thinking out of the realm of computers and equations and into the tangible world, showing readers how to develop the systems-thinking skills that thought leaders across the globe consider critical for 21st-century life.
October 30, 2020

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The School of Critical Design explores next design & business for critical global issues affecting the future of humanity

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