2023 Creative R&D Lab Open Call | C/Change (Goethe-Institut San Francisco x Gray Area)

Deadline Extended : March 31st, 2023

C/Change invites interdisciplinary teams and individuals around the globe to submit concepts for interactive prototypes that articulate a vision for the future of online cross-cultural exchange. Accepted applicants will receive approximately $17,500 to develop a high-fidelity platform, tool, or experience over the course of 7 months. Members of the Creative R&D Lab Cohort will also have the opportunity to expand their skill sets and join a community of design futurists through regular virtual workshops and events.


  • Interdisciplinary individuals and teams (of up to 4 members) from anywhere in the world may apply.
  • Applicants must submit a portfolio to demonstrate a body of work in art, design, or technology.
  • At least one member of the team must demonstrate strong skills and experience in the technology involved in developing the proposed prototype.
  • Applicants from underrepresented communities around the world are strongly encouraged to apply.
  • Portfolios should demonstrate a thorough understanding of the design process through conceptual research, technical sketches, and production.


  • Approximately $17,500 USD stipend (per team) 
  • Access to the Gray Area Incubator Space in San Francisco (applicants do not need to relocate to the Bay Area for the duration of the Lab)
  • Workshops and skill development opportunities
  • One-to-one mentorship with domain expert (mentors assigned according to each team’s needs)

Outcomes and Expectations

Participants will design and execute an interactive online prototype that actualizes their proposed concept for a digital cultural exchange experience. These prototypes may be scaled up or expanded upon completion of the C/Change development period. Final prototypes will be showcased on the C/Change website. Participants in the lab are expected to complete the following:

  • Produce a functional prototype for a digital cultural exchange experience that addresses one of C/Change’s three focus areas (see Submission Guidelines below for more details on specific technologies).
  • Attend monthly virtual lab meetings, regular mentor check-ins, and an interactive workshop series. Lab meetings will provide the opportunity for teams to give and receive feedback on projects as they develop. 
  • Lead one skill-sharing workshop open to the public (with the support of the Goethe-Institut and Gray Area). Teams may choose to conduct their workshop virtually or in-person.
  • Communicate progress updates and final reports throughout the program.


  • Feb 28, 2023 – Open Call Released
  • Mar 24, 2023 – Project Proposals Deadline
  • Late March & Early April — Interviews with finalists
  • Apr 10, 2023 – Selections Announced
  • May 1, 2023 – Oct 31, 2023 – Project Development Period
  • Aug 15, 2023 – Mid-Project Review
  • Oct 31, 2023 – Nov 10, 2023 – Beta Testing Period
  • Mid-November – Delivery of Prototype + Public Presentation of Work

Submission Guidelines

Interested individuals and teams should submit project proposals by March 24, 2023. They do not expect traditional art project proposals; rather, C/Change wants to see interdisciplinary individuals and teams envisioning online interventions, protocols, and tools that can scale up and effect change in the world. Accessible avenues by which online cultural exchange experiences can unfold should be central to each proposal’s vision. They welcome design sketches, process notes, mood boards, and other multimedia material that support the written portion of the application. A budget detailing anticipated use of the stipend (approximately $17,500) for materials, development, and personal honorarium should also be included with the application (see budget template here).

Project proposals should address at least one of the following focus areas:

  • Feminist Technologies: In order for technology to facilitate the creation of a more just future, we need to instill new values into engineering practices that take a feminist approach to the design, development, and deployment of technology and prioritize the needs and experiences of marginalized communities. In the context of online cultural exchange, the principles of feminism, which emphasize intersectionality, decolonization, inclusivity, and empowerment, serve as guidelines for building safe spaces for cross-cultural connection and collaboration. What might it look like to build tools and experiences with these values, rather than those of wealth generation, attention gamification, and data harvesting?
  • Planetary Futures: Collaboration and problem-solving are necessary for developing solutions that address the climate emergency that is just beginning to unfold. We can view sustainability, resilience, adaptation, and regenerative ecosystems that prioritize the well-being of both humanity and the planet through the lens of digital cultural exchange in order to imagine new ways for people to connect and collaborate towards a healthier planetary future.
  • Digital Democracy: Building safe spaces for people to exercise their voices and influence in an increasingly multipolar world disrupted by digital innovation requires radically new approaches. Tools that bolster digital democracy can, for instance, enable people to negotiate and deliberate toward the collective good, open up more direct channels for participatory governance, and foster civic collaboration. Rather than working against democracies, technological advancement can serve to enhance the democratic process by making it more accessible, inclusive, and accountable, and to give citizens a greater voice in the way they are governed.

Additionally, proposals should leverage emerging technologies to actualize their forward-looking propositions. Below is a sampling of possible tools teams can utilize and some context around how they envision them supporting the prototyping process:

  • Artificial Intelligence: The expansion of “intelligence” beyond its once exclusively human domain and into machines raises numerous philosophical, ethical, and social issues. As a “general purpose technology” that portends to impact virtually every sphere of human life, artificial intelligence is frequently talked about in terms of optimization or super intelligence. Perhaps, though, A.I. can also propagate a different set of values centered around inclusive dialogue and safe spaces for exchange.
  • Extended Reality and Immersive Environments (VR/AR/XR, metaverse, etc.): Expanded computing power will allow designers, artists, and technologists to deliver increasingly more immersive and narratively rich experiences to our devices; in other words, our phones will allow us to travel across and through different worlds where we might encounter different people (or avatars). This shift will alter our traditional conceptions of society, or the places where humans interact with others and create shared meaning; how might we ensure that these virtual worlds make space for voices historically marginalized in society? How can we design virtual experiences that bring people into conversation, rather than further isolate them from one another?
  • Big Data Applications and Visualizations: Ubiquitous sensing technologies around the world are exploding the amount of data collected every second. This reality of infinite data, of endless calculation of the world, portends to accelerate complexity beyond human comprehension. Here, data visualization might help us harness this information to not only produce knowledge, but to produce shared meaning and spark generative conversation.
  • Decentralized Platforms and Protocols: The centralized internet platforms that have come to define our digital lives seem to no longer work; the data we produce become the property of a handful of corporations, our digital discourse becomes increasingly polarized and violent, and attention becomes the object of a game to put advertisements on as many screens as possible. The various applications of blockchain technology under the “web3” umbrella offer a different vision of the internet wherein the task of storing and exchanging data is distributed among users, rather than falling to the hands of private companies. Separating hype from practicality, how might we think through the possibilities afforded by decentralized internet architectures in order to imagine new modes of being, working, and learning together in the virtual world?

Evaluation Criteria

An independent jury will assess applications based upon the following criteria:

  • Outlines a future vision which accelerates of inclusive digital cultural exchange
  • Demonstrates depth of thought around the social effects of technology, as well as innovative use of emerging digital tools.
  • Relevance to the program focus areas (listed above) and values of cultural exchange
  • Feasibility given time and budget constraints


A panel of visionaries will review applications and select the final R&D Lab cohort—this year’s jury members will be announced soon.

Commitment to Diversity

C/Change is committed to embracing and enhancing equity, diversity, and inclusion, and encourages applications from individuals across racial, ethnic, geographic, socio-economic, cultural, age, gender, and sexual orientation spectrums.

Terms and Conditions

In the spirit of openness and collaboration, projects created in the Research & Development Lab will be published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Public License, so that others may build off the ideas elaborated in the C/Change program and create their own spaces for cross-cultural activity.

Reference Materials

The following readings and projects are intended to provide mere inspiration and point applicants toward certain approaches and lines of thought. 

The following readings are intended to provide mere inspiration and point applicants toward certain approaches and lines of thought. 



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