Design universities face challenges to their curricula, pedagogies, research and professional practices in the context of a world beset by increased complexity and rapid change. In this framing type paper located in an experimental relational ontology we take up the context and conditions of such change and the development of what we term ‘design futures literacies’. These are literacies that are realised in and through designing within a futures view that engages with transformation in the here-and-now, but are linked to near and far futures, and ways to encompass these in the present. We frame this in an experimental, emergent transdisciplinary pedagogy that joins systemic and cultural aspects of ‘taking care ahead of time’ or anticipation, and how it is connected to design futures literacy development. The paper is situated within an integrated design view of a large educational research project into design futures literacies.