Social Sustainability Seminar, IIT Institute of Design

This seminar course at IIT Institute of Design familiarized students with a range of current design and research issues in the area of 'social sustainability'. The course surveyed a range of approaches relevant to product, interaction, service and system design. The scope of the course included Europe and the developing world, as well as the US. The seminar provided a platform -- through a core set of readings, examples and lectures -- for students to discuss case studies in the area. The course was based on a weekly seminar, framed through an introductory lecture. Each seminar includes a structured discussion around 2-3 readings, each of which is presented by a student. The final deliverable was to be an artifact that interprets key terms and concepts in a diagram or other visual communication.

Discussion shaped by student interests included:
– Critical design thinking to address the cultural and social aspects of sustainable development, including those of justice, equity and ethics
– Emerging models for design practice such as design policy, design advocacy, and participatory innovation in non- and for-profit arenas
– Design methods for negotiating and managing change processes, in community, research and industrial settings

Level Masters (MDes and MBA programs)
Credits 1.5
Dates 2011
Number of students 4

My role
The seminar was co-taught by Judith Gregory and myself. I took the main role in formulating the topic, structure, lectures, readings and class discussions. The course is based on my research project Designing Social Innovation, through which I am a research fellow at the IIT Institute of Design. A paper co-authored by myself, Judith Gregory and Johan Redström presents a program for collaborative research based on my research project and on the course content.

Image (above)
A mapping of the discourses covered in the course and potential design roles, as the final deliverable of students Leticia Baião, Gretchen Kelly and Viraj Patwardhan

More about each class (links to video recordings)
Class 1 - Introduction and overview of the course, summary and video of lecture
Class 2 - Social practices and sustainable communities, summary and video
Class 3 - Guest lecture Peter Nicholson, Foresight Design Initiative, video
Class 4 - Transitions, systems and innovation, summary and video
Class 5 - Microcosms for social change, video - part 1
Class 5 - Microcosms for social change, video - part 2
Class 6 - Guest lecture Hamid Arastoopour, IIT Wanger Institute for Sustainable Energy Research, video

See also

/ Projects / Designing Social Innovation

/ Publications / Mazé, R., Gregory, J., and Redström, J. (2011) ‘Social Sustainability’.