Department of Planning

Design for Sustainability

Design for Sustainability

The research group takes a designerly approach in addressing challenges of Sustainable Development concerning health and well-being, clean energy, and responsible consumption and production.

Design is about ‘setting people and things in motion’, and is understood as purposeful attempts to change the existing practices into something more preferable. There is wide recognition amongst practitioners and academics that design can foster both creativity, innovation and change.

Design is therefore a productive way to engage with sustainability concerns (including the Sustainable Development Goals), which often entails attending to so-called ‘wicked problems’, i.e. loosely formulated problems, characterized by complex interdependencies, and to which there are no optimal solutions, only solutions that are better or worse. Overall, such design processes are non-linear, on-going, subject to contestation and full of potentiality as new goals and designs emerge through sociotechnical interactions.

Accordingly, the group takes a collaborative approach to design, emphasizing the multi-stakeholder involvement in joint problem definition, co-design of solutions (being both systems and products) and the generation of actionable knowledge.