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2.d 1/2: Power and Politics in Design for Transition
This track contributes to the emerging field of Transition Design (also known as Design for Transitions) with a focus on the politics of transition, and design’s potential to shift, redirect and transform power relations to achieve sustainability. Transition design is an expanded conception of design, drawing on cross-disciplinary debates from ecological, feminist, post-humanist and decolonial theory to inform sociotechnical systems-oriented design practice at all scales. It has sought to develop inclusive theory to enable ethical and justice-oriented design as a means to address the reproduction of social injustices by design. Moving away from traditional user-centred design to more participatory paradigms, transition design situates the user in the context of larger socio-political and ecological systems. With this perspective, Transition Design integrates system innovations and transitions theories, social practice theory and sustainability science, and builds on the approaches of Design for Sustainability, Service Design and Design for Social Innovation, engaging with the disciplines that describe human relationships in society and the environment such as anthropology, sociology, politics, environmental sciences, science and technology studies, etc. We are inviting papers dealing with theory, case studies, or a combination of both, which cover aspects of this approach to design research, for example:
11:10am - 11:35am
In Pursuit of Design-led Transitions
Delft University of Technology, Netherlands, The
This paper seeks to contribute toward the maturity of transition design. Design-led innovation as transformative methodology is identified as parallel to social innovation in the rise of transition design. A Dutch transition design project with the Dutch Government and food sector is presented to reveal the challenges of working at a system level. Reflection on the project revealed two insights that were not factored within the design approach; (1) the timing of the transition relative to the surrounding environment and; (2) the velocity or speed at which the transition can be fully enacted. The paper shifts to investigating change theories in order to develop new knowledge about how to address these challenges. Practical implications are concluded from this investigation. This paper deals with politics, power, democracy, leadership, enablers and inhibitors of change and at times treads on uncomfortable truths.
11:35am - 12:00pm
The Disconnect Between Design Practice and Political Interests: The Need for a Long-Term Political Engagement as Design Practice
Carnegie Mellon University, United States of America
Long-term, sustainable transitions cannot occur without working at the political level to address the serious, global political challenges we are facing today. However, the capacity of design as a rigorous component and complement of the political world is yet to be seen. In this paper we discuss surveys we conducted, showing that there is a clear discrepancy between how designers engage in the political process as citizens and as professionals. We also discuss a subsequent workshop which allowed survey participants to explore these questions of roles and agency in greater depth and offered insights into barriers and opportunities. We found the workshop to be an effective method of helping designers identify leverage points and courses to intervene within both the designer’s sphere of influence and sphere of concern. In so doing, we might begin to draw more designers into the critical work of designing for a transition towards more inclusive and equitable socio-political futures.
12:00pm - 12:25pm
Personal, political, professional: a practice in transition
University of South Australia, Australia
It is widely agreed that in order to contribute to transitions towards sustainability, both practitioners and design itself must also transition. This paper presents findings from the first two years of transition in my Australian-based design practice. The paper explores what this transition has required of me personally, politically, and professionally, and draws on cases from my PhD. The PhD and paper are both part of an analytic auto-ethnography of my practice’s transition from ‘making greener things’ towards design for transitions. The projects discussed use ethnography, action research and reflective practices in their temporal approaches. This paper explores how slower methods such as transition design and autonomous design can extend the political reach of a design practice and discusses sacrifice and the financial stabilisation that comes from enveloping old practices within the new. The analysis presented here also reflects on my experiences practicing design for transitions and on data collected through participant engagement.
12:25pm - 12:50pm
On transforming transition design: from promise to practice
Delft University of Technology, Netherlands, The
We are living in transitional times. Much has been under debate on the need to change and to cope with societal transitions, less emphasis, however, is devoted on how to do so. Therefore, one of the primary questions in Transition Design is how to design for sustainable transitions? The current work aims to evaluate ‘transition design studies’ by analysing and evaluating the current available practice of transition design in order to contribute to the field in two ways: first, by maturing through evaluation, and second, by identifying points of further research. Our findings show that three phases can be distinguished within transition design processes: Design research to understand past, present, and to envision the future; Designing interventions to create the right thing, at the right place, at the right time, and Design practice for transition that accumulate the design interventions in order to drive societal transitions.
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