Student Design challenge

In the context of the awarding of the Spinozalens to French philosopher and sociologist Bruno Latour on November 24, the International Spinozaprijs Foundation, the DesignLab/ PhilosophyLab at the University of Twente and the Embassy of the North Sea invited students at all Dutch and Flemish universities and academies to take part in a Latour design challenge. The objective of the challenge: to think and to design – while taking account of the interests of plants, animals, microbes and other non-humans.


Bruno Latour has been a pioneering thinker who has helped place the relationship between technology, human behaviour and sustainability on the agenda. In the early nineteen nineties, Latour formulated the innovative idea that we must view non-humans – animals, plants, microbes and ecosystems – as political actors. They too should be given a voice in our democratic systems. His call for a ‘parliament of things’ today appears more urgent than ever, as the Earth seems to be ‘hitting back’ with forest fires, melting icecaps, biodiversity decline and pandemics.

Over 100 students signed up to take part in the competition from various universities and departments, among which design, bio-inspired innovation, artificial intelligence, philosophy, industrial design, maths, sociology, law, human technology interaction, architecture, earth life and climate and many more!


Students are called to develop and elaborate an instrument or method in the spirit of Latours Parliament of Things. The intention of their design must be to help visibly demonstrate the active role or representation of non-humans in our society.

— The design may be a technological solution, a ‘social design’ or a work of art. Possible examples are a form of democratic debate, a game, a logistic plan, a video, an item of equipment, an installation, a model, a prosthetic, etc.

— Each design must relate to one of the three projects of the Embassy of the North Sea (Future of the DeltaUnderwater Noise & A Voice for the Eel)

— The design links technology, human/non-humans and society.

— The design must be practically viable.

— Argumentation is just as important as creativity: demonstrate in your explanatory notes how the philosophy of Bruno Latour has been integrated in the design.