Although Transition Design is complementary to/borrows from a myriad of other design approaches, it is distinct in its emphasis on: 1) Stakeholder involvement in mapping wicked problems in order to achieve a shared understanding; 2) Resolving stakeholder conflicts and leveraging areas of alignment; 3) Developing compelling long-term future visions as a way of transcending differences in the present; 4) Framing problems and visions within radically large, spatio-temporal contexts; 5) Thinking in terms of ‘systems interventions’ instead of one-off solutions; 6) Referencing principles from living systems (self-organization, emergence, etc) as a way of understanding the dynamics within complex systems and wicked problems; 7) Conceiving interventions that protect and restore both social and natural ecosystems; 8) Everyday life/lifestyles are seen at the the most fundamental context for conceiving solutions/interventions; 9) Cosmopolitan localism, a place-based lifestyle that is global in its awareness and exchange of information technology; 10) Interventions are designed and implemented at multiple levels of scale, over short, mid and long time horizons; 11) Identifying emergent/grassroots solutions and amplifying them; 12) Linking both new and existing solutions into ‘ecologies’ of interventions that become steps in transitions toward desirable, sustainable futures; 13) Basing designed interventions upon genuine ‘needs’ vs. wants/desires; 14) Viewing the designer’s own mindset/posture as an essential component of the design process; 15) The reintegration and re-contextualization of knowledge, that is necessary for doing this work.
Problems take a long time to become wicked, just as unsustainable ways of living evolved over long periods of time. For this reason, it will take dozens of years, or even dozens of decades to shift our current trajectory and resolve the wicked problems facing us in the 21st century. Transition Design argues that problems must be framed within radically large spatio-temporal contexts in order to understand their origins (root causes) and identify both past and current, contributing factors at multiple levels of scale. In this class, students will be introduced to the Spatio-Temporal Matrix; a framework for guiding research to identify the root causes and consequences of a wicked problem and as a tool for developing high-fidelity visions of sustainable futures (in which the problem has been resolved). Assignment #4: The Spatio-Temporal Matrix will be given.