Story, Worlds, + Speculative Design Lab

Center for Emerging Media Arts

Faculty Advisor
Ash Eliza Smith
Contact Email
Potential UCARE Research Position?
Start Date
Paid or Volunteer
May begin immediately for hourly wage, UCARE funding begins June 1
Hours Per Week
20 hr/week in summer, 10 hr/week in academic year
Acceptable Undergraduate Majors
All majors across the arts and sciences

Seeking an interdisciplinary cohort of undergraduate researchers, designers, coders, thinkers, innovators and creative makers. Join this unique opportunity to be a member of this new lab within the Center for Emerging Media Arts on the UNL campus.

 Story, Worlds + Speculative Design Lab is seeking 3+ undergraduates for the 2021-2022 academic year, summer and beyond. The ideal candidates will have a strong interest in interdisciplinary research, fiction, and worldbuilding and want to work on projects that will take place in-between the arts, sciences, emerging technology, architecture, design, engineering, computer science, and environmental studies.  *No prior experience with art-making required.

 This lab will imagine and builds future worlds that we can experience in the present moment and be an incubator for creativity and innovation research. We will use interdisciplinary strategies that explore how storytelling, fiction, play, futuring, worldbuilding, and social re-imagining can shape reality.  We already have several exciting projects in the pipeline and looking for people who want to join the team!

 Current and Future Project examples:

Design Research, Mixed Reality, Immersive Storytelling, Machine Learning + Art, GPS and Geolocation, City + Rural Design, Civic imagination, Interactive Games (analog and digital) Assemble and edit films and edit audio podcast,  interested in nature-ecosystems and technology. Interested in learning more about Design Fiction, Worldbuilding and Speculative Design for solving problems and creating new worlds.

 Qualifications of a successful member of our lab:

 A great communicator can say Yes...And! to idea brainstorming, self-guided yet a team player Interested in navigating in between asking questions, solving problems and creating fun entertaining experiences Interested in humor and play as a powerful device Interested in systems thinking and the function of fiction.

Because this is a call for an interdisciplinary cohort the skills and platforms may vary with each applicant and are flexible (this is not an exhaustive list) but may look something like:

  • Computer Science: developer with experience using various programming languages that may include: JavaScript (D3.js library, jQuery framework, Basic PHP python, processing, machine learning, AI, GANS, GPT-3, and app mock-up/development, Unity or Unreal game engines
  • EMA, Art, Design, Theater: audio editing, film-editing, podcast editing, storytelling, web and graphic design, Adobe Creative Suite + graphic and visual effects, game design or animation, projection mapping
  • Architecture: materials, construction, interior/immersive design, biophilia, place/context, creating 3D models, Rhino, Blender, Unreal, Unity
  • Business: Innovation + Entrepreneurship + Creativity and establishing community partnerships
  • Sciences + Environmental Studies: ecosystems, Biology, Chemistry, Medicine/Health (w/ interest in Speculative), Data + GIS, Networks
  • Engineering: designing and building solutions across electrical, mechanical, structural or computational systems
  • Sociology et al: systems thinking and more


    1) May begin immediately for an hourly wage (please specify if you are a Work-Study student)

    2) Summer 2021 from June-August (20 hrs/wk)

 3) August 2021 - April 2022 for Academic Year 2021-2022 (10 hrs/wk)

 Compensation: May begin immediately for an hourly wage, UCARE funding begins June 1. Payment through UCARE funding

 Hours per week: flexible, according to your schedule

 To be considered for an interview, send an email summarizing your interest, experience, and skills/proficiencies with a brief resume/CV to Ash Eliza Smith at Applications will be accepted until the position(s) are filled.

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