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Design Ecologies for Times of Crisis

19 September 2023

3 mins

Peatland Ecologies. In Ireland peat sustained rural communities for Centuries. As a carbon sink and non-renewable resource within human lifetimes, these communities need to be supported through a just transition to alternative energy sources.

We are living in times of immense ecological upheaval and the relationship between humans and our changing environments is now the most pressing question of our time. How we redesign this relationship will determine our wellbeing, our livelihoods, and ultimately our collective futures. This year has seen wildfires and extreme flooding that has devastated communities in Hawaii, Libya, Greece and Canada, biodiversity loss intensifying, and the continued increase in costs of living through energy and food price hikes. The need for redesigning our relations with the world has never been greater. Some experts have referred to the times we are living in as a polycrisis.

This is why at the Institute for Design Innovation we are launching a new module titled Design Ecologies that will focus on how design can tackle this question head on. Design Ecologies is about the interdependent relationships between all living and non-living entities, understood within their social, cultural, political, and economic contexts.

Our goal is to equip you with the latest knowledge to foster interdisciplinary systems design responses to ecological challenges. Your tutors will include experts in design research, but also complex systems, anthropology, and more. We will come together—students and teachers—as a collective to co-learn and co-develop bold responses to these urgent questions. These responses must take account of business, government and community roles in tandem.

Tapping into the very latest thinking in design, we will explore new systems design concepts and practices including planetary design, regenerative design, design for commons, transition design, pluriversal design, and more.

  • What might it mean to design for planet?
  • How can design be a regenerative practice that supports repairing our multispecies environments?
  • What does design for just transitions require?
  • How might I design for a multispecies democracy?

You will be tasked with exploring systems design in a situated hyper-local context. You will learn from a wide portfolio of IDI’s past and current research projects, including Oceans, Un:Edge, Counter-Framing Design, Weaving Ecologies Sustainable Commons Governance, and more. By developing these local, systems-based, creative outcomes informed by critical thinking, our intention is to formulate eco-social design responses to some of today’s most urgent challenges, to collectively envision and build resilient commons futures. 

For queries contact the course leader, Dr Sharon Prendeville.

Written by: Dr Sharon Prendeville.

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