Designing our future: A conversation about the Anthropocene, Transition design and Sustainability

8th May, 2017

For the first time in the evolution of life on planet Earth a single species has become so numerous, so widely distributed, so rapacious, and so unresponsive to ecosystem feedback as to seriously disrupt the biosphere’s critical life support systems. We humans are now the dominant force for Earth system change. We have become a force of Nature. Welcome to the Anthropocene.

Fundamental change at every level of our society is needed to address the issues confronting us in the Anthropocene. Climate change, loss of biodiversity, depletion of natural resources and the widening gap between rich and poor are just a few of the ‘wicked problems’ that require new approaches to problem solving. The transition to sustainable futures calls for new ways of designing that are based upon a deep understanding of how to design for change and transition within complex systems (Irwin 2011).

Transition Design is an area of design research, practice and study which looks toward design-led societal transition toward more sustainable futures. Transition Design acknowledges that we are living in ‘transitional times’. It takes as its central premise the need for societal transitions to more sustainable futures and argues that design has a key role to play in these transitions. It applies an understanding of the interconnectedness of social, economic, political and natural systems to address problems at all levels of spatiotemporal scale in ways that improve quality of life.
Join us at Social Design Sydney where we will learn more about design for sustainability, the Anthropocene and Transition Design. How might we design a more sustainable future?

Cameron Tonkinwise
Cameron Tonkinwise is currently Professor of Design at UNSW Art and Design. He was previously Director of Doctoral Studies at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design and co-Chair of Tishman Environment and Design Center at The New School. Cameron has been researching and teaching design for sustainability for more than two decades, with a focus on systems of shared use. He is currently working on the development of the new practice of Transition Design, that is, design-led structural change toward more sustainable futures. Cameron will present key components of Transition Design and compare them to other forms of Design for Social Innovation.

Suzanne Benn

Suzanne Benn is Professor of Sustainable Enterprise in School of Management, UTS Business School. In this position she provides leadership within the Business School and across UTS, working with other disciplinary areas and external stakeholders to promote sustainability.She has led consultancy and research projects on the topic of corporate social responsibility, organisational change and sustainability for a number of Australian organisations. Suzanne is involved in the Anthropocene Transition Project and will talk to us about new sustainable business models enabling transition to Anthropocene.

Panel discussion
These talks will be followed by a discussion panel with Oliver Dykes a service designer working at Meld studios who attended the 2016 Transition Design Summer school and Dr. Abby Mellick Lopez who will share her my experiences in multidisciplinary teams including Cooling the Commons, a project exploring sociocultural perspectives on urban heat with Mapping Urban Resilience in riverlands, Sydney.

New Zealand Design for Social Innovation Symposium
Jax Wechsler will also share her takeouts from the NZ Design for Social Innovation Symposium.

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