March 22, 2017

Discussion Session 3.22.2017 – The Holistic Worldview

In what ways do you think design education and/or business practices should change to embrace an ecological worldview? 

What are strategies for seeding change while simultaneously needing to do your job well and meet your organization’s objectives?
Discussion Leaders: Francis Carter, Chirag Murthy, Monique Smith and Leah Jiang
  1. This is a very interesting prompt for me right now, particularly because I am currently living in a philosophical limbo. I can’t decide whether I have faith in our economic system’s ability to do good, or if I think capitalism is fundamentally and permanently flawed. I am inclined to pick the former, particularly because large wealthy companies have the resources to provide meaningful change in their communities. Many companies have done quite a lot to prove their worth in this way. However, for profit companies, just like us, are inevitably trying to thrive in a capitalist society where financial gains are synonymous with success. A part of me believes that the system, and particularly the growth-focused aspect of our financial system, needs to change before companies can truly embrace an ecological worldview.

    • Thank you. I’m sure many of us feel the same way. I wish I did not have to competitively and aggressively look for jobs and internships, and could really do what I want to do. But its easier said than done. I feel like companies feel the same. I wonder if they are scared that they will be left behind if they choose to not comply to the existing system. I know there are companies that have defied the system and done really well, but I feel like for every such company that has done well, there are a hundred that have not. and so, I like that you are saying that the financial system should change before we start to blame and hold companies responsible.

      • I also feel you can look outside the mainstream, capitalistic markets to practice design within. This is an issue I have also struggled with in my career, how can you make money and at the same time make sense? I feel designers, especially human-centered designers, face this tension very directly in their day-to-day practices. As a design practitioner I chose not to reinforce the status quo, but to look toward communities which are more value / mission driven organizations, who seek to nurture a different and more holistic way of Being-in-the-world.

        Having worked in both non-profit and for-profit sectors, I see positives and negatives in both approaches. But from a more meta perspective I see these practices as symptoms of larger structural concerns, causes and effects of a system which appears highly unsustainable and unforgiving. Lately, I have focused my attention on cooperative practice’s communities are leveraging toward fulfilling their own needs. Communities need to sustain themselves and, when resources are strained, they still need to make ends meet. This sustainment is achieved through resource aggregation, cooperation and interdependence. I find contributing to this alternative approach toward capitalism more rewarding from a practitioners perspective and a space I would encourage more designers to focus their attention to.

        • Francis, I too have worked in for- and non-profit companies, and I like how you are thinking about cooperative workplaces and practices. My only experience with those was in my college dining cooperative, but I’d like to be more involved with other opportunities like that in my daily life.

          My other way solution to “finding other markets to practice design within” is to put out a shingle as a freelancer. I have freelanced in the past and would like to do so again in the future. Although when you are starting you may need to take any job that is offered to you, working for yourself provides you a great deal of power over what organizations and projects you support. This flexibility and ability to put my labor where my values are was greatly appealing to me as an illustrator, and I worked with many non-profits to help further their missions. I would imagine that freelancing as a designer would allow us all some control in that regard, too. Finally, newer freelancing collectives like the Freelancers Union ( allow formal and informal ways for independent businesspeople to connect and advocate collectively.

          • Regarding strategies for seeding change, I think it depends on the type of organization you work for. I also worked for a for-profit and non-profit. Though the non-profit job was low-paying and not at all glamorous, it was one of the best experiences of my life. I felt I had the autonomy to be creative in how I approached my role and the freedom to take on additional roles that were interesting to me. Thanks to an open-minded director, I felt I had a say in how the organization was run and its long-term vision. Paradoxically, though, I had the “luxury” at the time to take on a low-paying but high-value job. That kind of autonomy and influence is less-likely in large corporations with thousands of employees. It’s simply not practical to allow the company’s direction to be influenced by the employees.

            Ideally designers would align themselves and work for companies whose vision, mission, and values they share, and use their skills to further/enhance the positive impact. I like to believe that if enough people resist and boycott companies that engage in unethical or unsustainable practices, companies will begin to change how they do business. Unfortunately not everyone has the luxury about being choosy about the types of organizations they work for, and so the cycle continues.

    • I really appreciate this comment, Vic, because I think it so nicely capture some of the conflict I’m feeling as well. I am inclined to believe that large wealthy companies have the resources and desire to provide meaningful change, namely because these institutions are already in place and position to address such urgent, large-scale situations. However, I think mindset and posture for these companies inevitably exist in the gray area. Intentions are good, resources are there, but in order to drive the changes that are needed, sacrifices on these companies’ parts must be made. I think this then becomes a loop of reasoning when, in the end, that conscious choice must be made to embrace an ecological worldview. This ends up becoming the trickiest part, and I think much of that has to do with the fact that all of the evidence, reasoning, and heart can be there, but a company’s bottom line (single, double, triple) is hard to have control over or negotiate with when survival comes into play.

      • I agree with many of you. I also worked in a mission-driven organization and faced lots of barriers both visible and invisible at the systemic level. In fact, I witnessed some of the good intentions ended up creating bias in order to generate funding to support the beneficiaries. Because most of the people are so used to perceiving beneficiaries as people who are suffering from the hunger or disease in certain countries; the donation/funding often fails if there’s a new effort to change this poverty pornography. I think this is a part of the cause and effect in a negative side of the whole systemic error. It is a matter of how they do to drive a positive change whether it’s a profit-driven/ mission-driven company.

    • Hey Vic,

      I think you cut to the heart of the issue with this sentence:

      “A part of me believes that the system, and particularly the growth-focused aspect of our financial system, needs to change before companies can truly embrace an ecological worldview.”

      Capitalism is not ecologically sustainable. If we truly wish to be ecologically sustainable, we will need to disrupt, dismantle or move beyond our current capitalist economic framework. Within the capitalist framework, companies, entities and nations must GROW every year in order to survive or maintain themselves. The fundamental focus of capitalism is on creating more. Extracting resources from the environment so that certain human individuals may profit.

      Is it possible for any given company to take up practices which are less environmentally damaging? Sure, but I would see that as being similar to giving someone a painkiller when they have a bacterial lung infection, you’re not addressing the root cause of the problem.

      • In some ways I think that capitalism will find a stasis point when it hits certain physical roadblocks. Like how the fox population diminishes when rabbits are overeaten. I realize this isn’t the most optimistic prediction but I don’t know how what we have started will be intentionally dialed back.

        As to Michelina’s comment about other planets being for sale, which I realize is a joke, I would say that all matter in the universe is an endowment provided by the universe to anything that can occupy that niche. Without will there is nothing that will happen of any consequence. And by consequence I mean anything that can conceivably matter to anyone.

        I think a evidence-based worldview, taken to its logical ends, results in an ecological worldview. The difficulty is that is already useful when taken to an end prior to that. So people stop when it’s useful at the moment.
        I think design education should include scientific instruction mandatorily and show how a complete extrapolation of such concerns ends up viewing subsidiary systems as elements at the ecological scale. With more context available to the understanding, proposed actions in the design space can be considered in their wider realm of consequence.

        As for strategies for seeding change while simultaneously meeting an organization’s objectives, I would say first of all choose an organization that is actively working towards the change you desire. If the goals of the company are more shortsighted, then I would say that conversation is really the only direct action available.

  2. Delanie Ricketts March 24, 2017 at 8:56 pm Reply

    I think our exercise in class of how to transform a linear process into a closed loop speaks to how design education and business should change to embrace an ecological worldview. I think at a base level this refers to closing consumption loops for resources used by a school or business, including water, electricity, gas, food, and materials.

    Several options for creating closed consumption loops exist already. Phipps for instance exemplifies a closed water loop. If a school or business were able to invest in that type of system, I think that would be a first step to embracing an ecological worldview in terms of water use. The school already uses a closed loop model for carpeting, but it would be interesting to see that model replicated for all resource use. UC Berkeley for instance has a 3D printer filament recycling program in which used filament is melted an re-molded into usable filament for 3D printers. Perhaps CMU has a similar program that I’m not aware of, but this would be ideal for all types of materials used, including paper, post-its, and sharpies — since we all know how much the design school uses them! In terms of electricity, I believe there are companies that enable you to ensure that your electricity use comes from sustainable sources. If a school (or business) doesn’t already partake in such a program, that could be another way to start ensuring that consumption occurs in closed loop cycles. Having composting, for instance, is always the norm in institutional or business settings, and this type of service could help close food consumption loops.

    I think all of these strategies can be met at least at small scales, given sufficient financial resources to invest in some cases. If the financial resources exist the only barriers one may have in implementing them may be in terms of priorities and values of individuals in the company. I don’t think promoting that a business adopt such practices would necessarily affect your ability to do you job well or meet organization objectives. The main risk would be perhaps social if other people in the school or company do not agree with an ecological worldview.

    • Scott Dombkowski March 25, 2017 at 5:59 pm Reply

      I agree with you Delanie, taking small steps like a closed water loop at schools and businesses and gradually growing those steps until they become large projects that could transform business practices is the way to go. You can already see this happening at different organizations as a competitive advantage to attract customers or talent. I think such practices will become more and more the norm as the views and attitudes of potential customers and employees change and the value they place on products and services that contain a more ecological worldview grows.

      I also agree that I don’t think that suggesting ecological practices to your workplace will affect your ability to do your job well or meet organizational objectives. It may become an issue if you continuously bring these ideas, when you have been told repeatedly that they are not appreciated. If that occurs, it may just mean you are working at the wrong place.

  3. Michelina Campanella March 24, 2017 at 10:27 pm Reply

    This is a really interesting discussion, especially around the moral dilemmas that I think most of us face when we understand the need for an ecological worldview and also a need to get a job, make money, and still operate within the existing system that we are all part of. I have struggled with this myself for years, but ultimately arrived at the conclusion that business and industry, especially on a large scale, have the most immediate and largest potential for change.

    The way I see it is fairly simple – businesses need people to buy their products to survive. When business operations threaten the livelihood of those people, they put the future of their companies at risk. For example, if people become sick from polluted water from industrial runoff, their money will go to healthcare costs and to remedying that problem instead of into their business. This is an oversimplified example, but perhaps that is the easiest way to look at things. It makes NO sense for a company’s practices to be killing the people that they take money from. This is something I frequently grapple with because it seems so obvious. What do the few old men who run oil companies expect to do with all of their money in 30 years when they’ve destroyed life on earth? I don’t know of any planets for sale, do you?

    As we enter into the workforce and start to contribute to companies with influence, I think the best thing we can do is point out the hypocrisy of unsustainable business practices, and propose alternative ways of doing things that support an ecological worldview, the longevity of the planet, and ultimately their organization.

    • I agree with Michelina’s take on this. What we still have to figure out, though, is how to get those few old men who own oil companies, and other companies that pillage the earth, to realize that the planet as we know it is in peril? How to we get them to understand that sustainability doesn’t just mean that you put a green tag on something that says “natural”? I think these thought exercises and arguments often stop at the wall of capitalism. I believe the greatest task ahead of us is to figure out how to dismantle capitalism and greed. These wicked problems are not actually that difficult to solve most of the time. I think many of the problems we’ve been discussing in class are ultimately about income inequality, greed, and money. In fact, I would argue that every single one of the problem spaces is about that at it’s very core. I think we need to start seriously thinking about this as THE DESIGN PROBLEM in transition design. Because if we can’t dismantle capitalism, we can’t move forward with most of the ideas we’ve tossed around. Design and Policy are going to need to develop a closer relationship, and I think the school of design and transition design in general should encourage that.

      • I think Monica has hit at the heart of the issue. Unfortunately, every designed economic system has human beings as actors, and it is hard to not to become disheartened knowing that likely ‘greed’ will never really disappear. The trick will be designing an economic system that curbs this human tendency, which is extremely difficult, especially as we are attempting to disentangle ourselves from a overwhelming and powerful system rife with it.

    • I think you make a good larger point on how sustainable business practices, and supporting an ecological worldview would actually lead to not only the longevity of the planet, but also the company itself. If only organizations saw it this way.

    • As what Michelina said, there is an evitable gap between designing with the ecological worldview and making profits for commercial organizations. To ameliorate this paradox, we could introduce the ways that nature world adjusts the system into ecological design. For example, there is one key element that urges people to treasure local environment and obey certain rules to protect the ecological world, which is having people to bear the outcome of what they did.

    • I really agree with you Michelina that “the best thing we can do is point out the hypocrisy of unsustainable business practices, and propose alternative ways of doing things that support an ecological worldview, the longevity of the planet, and ultimately their organization”. But in my view, sometimes or maybe often, there are unsustainable business practices that support sustainability, and many seemingly sustainable business practices that actually threaten the environment. We have to come up with feasibility of that alternative ways of doing things that support an ecological worldview. For example, think about Elon Musk’s aspire of building solar power systems. We do not even know how new gas stations might look like, how successfully it could replace existing one, how it might affect people’s lives, and how it would impact the landscape of this world at the end. In terms of sustainability, we definitely should support them. But at the same time, we know it’s so obvious that using solar powered cars is uncomfortable and takes up a lot of our time. So what I want to say is, I think, we have to look at various types of examples.

  4. In the in-class exercise, our topic is about the refrigerator. How to make it more sustainable? In the mechanistic worldview, we will probably try to make it consume less energy or recycle easier. However, during our initial research, we found it there are plenty of ways to recycle the refrigerator and due to technology development, the lasted model will always consume less energy than previous one.

    As a result, we turn to our focus on the ecosystem of the refrigerator. We start to ask why American people prefer larger refrigerator but countries like Japan prefer smaller one. One could simply argues that this is because of the size of the living space and there is no way we could increase the size. Then we ask ourselves, how people eat before the refrigerator is invented. People still eat but they probably not able to eat fresh food all the time. We found out that the preference of refrigerator is connected to people’s eating and grocery shopping habits. All things are interconnected, you could not simply ask people to buy smaller refrigerator in order to solve material resource and energy.

    Back to the question, if I need to design a new model of refrigerator, I could try to refocus on people’s everyday practice in order to figure out what to design.

    • Interesting, Jeffrey. Our group also dealt with the refrigerator, and analyzed the usage of American people and European people. We found that from the mechanistic view, though we can perfect the recycle system, we won’t change the existence of refrigerator. But from the ecological view, we analyzed why people use it, what influence does it have (like influence on people diet habits, climate change, environment pollution, etc). Then we come to the conclusion that it would be better to get rid of it someday.

      We can design something to satisfy people’s need to restore food, but more importantly, we can illuminate people to change diet practices step by step– eat more fresh and healthy food. We need to give them time and educate them, that’s another question. So the interesting thing is that we have a vision and a long-term goal first, then we map conditions backward, realize this step by step.

      • Jeffrey and Minrui I think it’s interesting that you both used the refrigerator as a study case. Elizabeth Shove does a great job describing the social practices that involve the refrigerator. Getting rid of the refrigerator as an idea (one I don’t know if I support, specially in the context of developing countries) would require a massive change in existing infrastructure, from food production, transportation systems, packaging technologies, etc. I don’t think the solution here is to get rid of the refrigerator, but rethink the ownership around the refrigerator, what if we had shared/communal refrigerators, where a number of households rent out a weekly space and downsize the amount of groceries they buy per week? Eliminating the refrigerator seems like a quite mechanistic solution of the problem. So what if we start regarding household appliances communal and shared appliances? What kind of community can we build around shared appliances and what practices can emerge from that?

      • Jeffrey, I was also on Minrui’s team. I find it interesting that both of our teams not only chose a refrigerator, but both turned towards the consumer as an important factor in reshaping the linearity of this particular appliance. Consumer demand drives a lot of what companies are supplying, and how they are supplying. We both looked toward cultures that use smaller refrigerators and have a completely different relationship with food and the shopping/storing experience. While I think it is important for the larger corporations to do their part and begin to shift toward a more ecological worldview, they are catering to the wants and needs of consumers. I think education and awareness on the consumer level, as well as consumers holding companies accountable for better practices could begin to cause the shift from mechanical to ecological worldview.

  5. Manya Krishnaswamy March 26, 2017 at 2:52 am Reply

    In order to truly embrace an ecological worldview, I think companies need to make a fundamental shift from trying to reduce their negative impact on the environment to making a positive impact on the environment. Over the past 10 years (if not longer), many companies (especially MNCs) have developed sustainability blueprints that talk about how they are saving xxx kilowatts, increasing the use of recycled material in the packaging by xx% and reducing the water used in their factories by xx%. They write reports, publish white papers and gain a lot of media attention for their efforts. While these efforts are improvements from how they operated in the past, more often than not, they are simply making incremental changes that very much within their abilities to achieve.

    What I would love to see them do is to focus on making more radical changes to their operations to shift towards zero or even a negative carbon footprint. I am aware that some companies are attempting to do this and that it takes time in order to implement such drastic changes, but I think we need more companies setting an example and paving the way for the rest. There is nothing more motivating for companies to revamp their sustainability plans than “peer-pressure”.

    • I must say I had not thought of it this way Manya. And I agree, trying to make a positive impact rather than reducing negative impact is a good place to start (maybe it still begins with reducing negative impact, but at least the larger goal is in place).

      • I agree with Chirag in that changes have to begin in baby steps. It is just like what a lot of the groups found during the MLP mapping exercise that it is really difficult to introduce changes at the landscape level. Interventions at that level are so large that it is hard to see it being actionable. If that’s the case then would people lose faith? To me least, I prefer doing more actionable plans that lead up to a ultimate goal. Baby steps are easier for people to accept and buy into; easier to get people on board. Then from there, we can slowly work up to the ultimate goal.

        Also, I do believe that eventually we as a society will move away from capitalism, or at least a modified version of it. Capitalism itself is a relatively new thing so over time, something will take its place.

        • I really like Manya’s point of companies thinking about reducing the negative impact to making a positive impact on the environment. This truly would be a great shift in mindset for big corporates who seem to be the biggest decision makers and game changers. But Lisa too has a point that any kind of change is a great start. So if Corporates are initially taking baby steps then they need to be slowly pushed towards having a more ecological worldview. I wonder if Capitalism is really the villain here or is it still human’s greed and selfishness which is the problem. Capitalism is just a product of this human greed. Today it’s capitalism tomorrow it will be something else. Then do we actually need to change ourselves and educate the next generations to have an ecological worldview? Today’s old and outdated policy makers and corporate owners will be replaced by our generation of thinkers and so we need to be the change.

          • Building upon ashlesha’s comment of “today’s old and outdated policy makers and corporate owners will be replaced by our generation of thinkers and so we need to be the change”, I think my understanding of current economy makes me think of actionable steps. I recently read about Facebook opening their new office in Seattle. Apparently, this building is the second largest office complex in Seattle. The architect of this building is Frank Gehry. I am not criticizing but Frank Gehry is popularly notorious for his whimsical, non-ecological design of buildings in architectural circuits. He practices a more aesthetically driven approach to his designs. Well, how does that reflect on Facebook, in my opinion, the choice of an architect, in this case, reflects the core concerns of the company. The decision makers in this scenario opted for an architect who can create a landmark without investigating how ecologically driven his design practice is.

            At the heart of holistic practices lies a mindset which can only develop by experience. You know how everyone feels compassionate and sad when they see people dying of cancerous pollution on documentaries about underdeveloped nations. But this compassion leads to no action, perhaps because the experience of watching it on television is not the same as inhaling that air.

    • Completely agree with what you said. Just want to complement an idea from the class. Except for changing the minds of companies, changing consumers’ thoughts is also important. Just like the future refrigerator your team discussed on class, ecological design means much more than recycling or using environment-friendly materials. If we can change the way that people do shopping– instead of buying a lot for once and store everything in a personal fridge, only purchase fresh food for three days. The future fridge may be much smaller than the current ones or it could be one sharing by neighbors. Thus, without using new technologies, the ecological design will be achieved.

    • I agree with what Manya has said here – that a fundamental shift is required to move corporate interests from “not doing evil” to “proactively doing good.” To Vic and Michelina’s points earlier in the thread, there is the opportunity for companies to influence positive change and at a scale that is often hard to achieve in the non-profit sector. If we are also talking about sustainability, not just from an ecological perspective but also a financial perspective, we want institutions that can support themselves, as opposed to external agendas that can, oftentimes, sway the direction of their work, and is “corruption” of a different flavor. Early in my career I worked under the UN on an initiative that engaged institutional investors – sovereign wealth funds and state pension funds – to adopt a more long term approach into their investment decision making and ownership practices. This initiative had (and still does have) a lot of momentum and was an example of a top-down model of change, but demonstrates that there is potential to activate for profit institutions to proactively do good, instead of just doing less evil.

  6. I agree that the activity of taking a linear process and shifting it closer to a closed-loop process was a great way to illustrate how design could be used to facilitate a conversation about entry points to seeding change within an existing process. After reflecting on several examples, I think I’m still in a headspace of minimizing negative impacts. I reflected on what opportunities there are within my workplace to shift practices and seed change while meeting our objectives and was able to generate some possible ideas. I think a powerful exercise could be finding a way to visually represent the cost of current use of resources like utilities and demonstrate how much we could be re-allocating towards services that directly impact students if we shifted consumption habits. There is a compelling bottom line argument that also addresses hearts-and-minds for seeding change in practices. Other opportunities might be in addressing paper use, looking at food service practices, digging into the logistics of student transportation, and reflecting on the use of school buildings.

    • Visually representation would be intuitive a way to arouse people’s awareness. Besides that, to make it continually be effective and stimulating to people, we may want to visualize the data to relevant to local general public and show them the influence on their own lives. For example, if we can show the relationship between people’s everyday behavior with local water quality, when the quality declines, people would be more willing to change.

  7. I think the last point Manya made is so important. Competition between companies to get more customers is a good intervention point for design. It is actually the point of evil problems as well. For example, to get competitive edge in price, companies have been even exploited labor and natural resources. We might be able to divert this competition in more sustainable way. One way we can do it is, as Manya’s example of MNCs is doing, publicily showing off what a company do for the environment. However, in this scenario, some companies might think that lowering price would be more attractive for general customers. Therefore, revealing the fact that customers’ decision is affected by how a company takes care of the environment should be followed, if it is. If it is not, what else we can do would be rise awareness about the issue for the customer side.

  8. I agree with many of the points above and wanted to recap my groups exercise because it was helpful for me. For our class exercise, my group was given the topic of cars and automobile. We started to map out the lifecycle of a car. We started with the resources (e.g. ore, petroleum, animals, etc.) and then refinery, forge, manufacturing, dealership, ownership/lease, deterioration, recycling or landfill. We had interesting discussions around lease and car sharing. We talked about how we can design for disassembly and an extended lifespan. We can also have preventative maintenance, “not-the-lowest-bidder” manufacturing, responsible.sustainable mineral extraction, greater percentage of materials recycled, or consider the close loop of lithium. I bring this exercise up because in the span of 20 minutes I was able to see leverage points and places where design can intervene. If this was built into design education, it would be a good step forward.

    • Like Denise, I think there are opportunities to bring more holistic thinking into design education and perhaps education more broadly. Our discussion around the holistic worldview reminded me of a class I took in high school in “service learning.” The course revolved around the examination of our own worldviews while doing service work to build empathy for others. I found myself naturally moving from a self-centered worldview to a more holistic, interconnected one. While I think it’s helpful to discuss theories around worldview, I also wonder what the opportunities are to shift our worldviews through practice.

  9. Having worked with a few NGOs and not-for-profit startup’s, I have seen a rising trend in working systems from a holistic worldview. I had the opportunity to work with – a social enterprise working from within India’s largest slum. The world looks at Dharavi as a slum area, but what it really also is a huge land of industrial grassroots industries, and laborers working in many low-income handmade industries. provided these skilled laborers and artisans a direct online retail selling web portal with upto 90% ownership of sales with the artisans themselves. but what really struck me as a great company philosophy is the level of social good it is doing for the environment and living habitats of these artisans. they provide a separate sales fund for sanitation improvement for the artisan’s houses within Dharavi, and also involve the laborers in accessing skilled education so that they can become entrepreneurs themselves. Its one of the few examples of holistic thinking that I have encountered directly in the professional world – where design thinking as well as ecological and economical practices combine for a greater good.

  10. I felt the exercise in class today about looking at a single object and expanding on its ecosystem was really useful. My group and dissected the life cycle of a car and what goes into not just the production but, the waste it creates. We tried to detail out the cycle beginning from mining ore for the metal to the landfill it creates. Towards the end of the exercise, it felt like using the framework from Cradle to Cradle was especially useful to get into these minute details. I business practices and design education follow a similar framework of a circular loop and not a linear one, would be more helpful to not understand but react on larger issues.

  11. I believe business practices should be responsible for the consequences of what their products or services create besides their “designed value”. As previous commenters mentioned solving a design/business problem just creates other problems, sometimes, in unforeseeable ways, but I believe companies should also consider to research and unveil the “what can go wrong” or how the other systems are affected by their “solutions”. In a way of thinking a bigger scale, companies, or the designers/decision makers in these companies should map what the whole picture, maybe by using the same theories and principles that transition design offers.

    Sometimes it is challenging to “be a good designer” while meeting business objectives. According to the “World Design Organization”s code of ethics (, a designer should also protect the earth’s ecosystem while “benefitting their clients”. They should “teach” their clients for the favor of more sustainable ways of operating, reduce the dependence of the earth’s limited natural resources. They should also think about their users, and how their solution fit/or/affect their users’ cultures. Another aspect is to also teach the ecological sustainability to their collegues and their trainee’s so that they will benefit the profession through ecological sustainability.

  12. Our group was working on the cycle of a common home appliance: the fridge. What we found out from a holistic worldview is that changing people’s behavior and common routine completely might not be a viable solution. People have been using the fridge for centuries, and if we suddenly taking the fridge out of people’s life, or promoting a brand new way to store food, it will be very hard to convince people to follow our protocols. Therefore, the team started to think of ways that would slowly alter the current situation, and make the cycle more sustainable. We found out that one of the current approach is to make the fridge smaller. By doing so, people are forced to buy limited amount of food, and use the fridge in a more efficient way. Smaller fridge also helps with reducing all wastes created in the fridge production process, rangin from ore collection to material production to the manufacture process.

  13. Many of great points in this discussion echo two things that I’ve been saying to myself since the semester began.
    1. “All of the problems we’ve been discussing are driven by capabilities/profit/greed.
    2. Transition Design should be taught to everybody, especially those in say business schools and political and management trajectories.

    It would be great if more people were aware of the ecological issues we face and what our capitalist society as thus far doing to ignore/abuse them.

    What if a large company was not driven by profit? It’s an interesting question to ponder. What would their motivations be? Would they be ecological? Altruistic? Would there be some competition to see who can do the most good (or bad?) Would there be some sort of currency connected with these results? I admit, it’s very strange to think about the world without everyone trying to make money. And I think that itself makes sense, for our entire history, having money meant surviving. I recently read part of an article that talked about what if $1000 a month income was considered a basic human right, with society essentially living off the income that automation could provide? (Unfortunately I didn’t finish the article and I can’t find the link…) But it’s sort of the same question, but for the individual. What would you do?

    More realistically speaking, when we receive a design prompt or instructions from our current/future employers, we (especially as designers) have a myriad of options. We could offer some subtle alternatives that are more eco-friendly, we can suggest or introduce strategies that may make less waste, or perhaps the most likely to succeed, look for ways that being green saves a company money. A good friend of mine did just that, he got a Ph.D. in environmental engineering. Instead of protesting that the government should be more green, he got a job working for the government and came up with ways they could save money that were much more ecologically friendly then the practices in place. While we’re all not on the path of an environmental engineer, we may find ourselves at a intersection of many disciplines, and they are certainly littered with intervention points.

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