'Social Sustainability' course - lectures online!

1 June, 2011 - 16:42

The course 'Social Sustainability' was taught by Ramia Mazé and Judith Gregory at the IIT Institute of Design (598-005 B) in spring 2011. This new seminar familiarizes students with a range of current design and research issues in sustainable design and development, based on Ramia Mazé's project Designing Social Innovation. A selection of interdisciplinary topics, drawing on sociology, policy and futures studies, are treated in some depth to introduce concepts and examples from Europe, Asia and the developing world, as well as the US. The seminar provides a platform -- through a core set of readings, examples and lectures -- for students to discuss case studies in the area.

The course is structured around a weekly discussion of the readings, framed by a lecture by the teachers and/or invited guest experts. These lectures are now available online - links below!


Course plan

Class 1 Introduction and overview of the course goals and planA broad introduction motivating and contextualizing concepts of ‘social sustainability’. A glimpse into contemporary environmental studies and sustainable development discourse, with particular attention to social, political and cultural dimensions, including topics such as the ‘cosmopolitical’ and ‘environmental justice’. An overview of a range of approaches within sustainable design (from lifecycles to lifestyles), highlighting emerging roles for design and issues that will be further explored in the class.Link to framing lecture as a video on VIMEOClass 2 Social practices and sustainable communitiesAn overview of topics in sustainable consumption. Particular attention to the social and cultural practices of everyday consumption, drawing on contemporary sociological thinking, consumption policy, material culture, and cultural studies. A background on design thinking and practice toward incremental and radical change (examples of design for ‘social innovation’, ‘creative communities’, ‘leapfrogging’, etc.).Link to framing lecture as a video on VIMEO Class 3 Guest lecture Peter Nicholson, Foresight Design InitiativeLink to video of lecture on VIMEOClass 4 Transitions, systems and innovationAn introduction to ‘transition management’ approaches. Intervention, management and governance of change processes, at multiple levels and over time, drawing from environmental policy, technology assessment and innovation studies. A background on ‘product-service systems innovation’, as an example of design operating towards multiple stakeholders and insitutional actors.Link to framing lecture as a video on VIMEO Class 5 Microcosms for social changeExamples and propositions for design methods and interventions within social change processes. A background on related initiatives (futures ‘visioning’, Living Labs, participatory technology evaluation, agent-based modelling techniques, etc.), as ‘microcosms’ for larger and longer change. Discussion of critical issues such as inclusion and participation, micro- versus monocultures, uncertainty and risk.Link to framing lecture as a video on VIMEO, part 1Link to framing lecture as a video on VIMEO, part 2Class 6 Guest lecture Hamid Arastoopour, IIT Wanger Institute for Sustainable Energy ResearchLink to video of lecture on VIMEOClass 7 Final presentations and discussion