Designing Sustainability Transitions

What would a sustainable future look like? How do we get there? And how can we design for it? Developing your own answers to these three questions will be the core of this minor. 

Sustainability will be approached from both environmental and social perspectives. The underlying philosophy of this minor is that, in order to design for sustainability, you need to consider the whole system and go beyond resource efficient products and services. 

You will learn about advanced topics of sustainability and explore different perspectives on how to enact societal change, including the framework of a circular economy. You will explore different design methods and their effects on sustainability. You will be given many opportunities to develop specific technical and professional skills and will critically reflect on the ethical considerations of design for sustainability.  

Throughout the semester you will work in teams composed of students from diverse educational backgrounds. The minor will be a combination of project work in groups, lectures, expert talks, workshops, group discussions and field trips. You will apply what you learn in a concrete design challenge for an external client (companies, charities, municipalities, etc.). 

What's in it for you?

  • You will gain a thorough understanding of the different elements of complex sustainable systems, and the transdisciplinary challenge of addressing societal needs within our planetary boundaries.
  • You will evaluate processes of change towards a sustainable future at different scales, from individual users to complete societal systems.
  • You will form arguments for your own perspective on how transitions could take place.
  • You will work with 3 state-of-the-art design approaches or techniques, introduced by experts in studio or lab work. Experts will give guest workshops and you will be given the opportunity to apply the methods in practical labs.
  • You will gain unique experience in carrying out project work in multidisciplinary teams for external, real-life clients.
  • You will apply communication, entrepreneurship, and collaboration skills towards sustainability challenges in the real world in your presentations to the clients.

The programme

The minor Designing Sustainability Transitions spans 30 EC and comprises the following courses:

Sustainability issues and societal change
This course combines lectures, discussions and readings, aimed at deepening your understanding of the issues of sustainability and at exploring different views of how change can be enacted in society. You will be challenged to take a stand and discuss with your peers and guest experts. 

Value sensitive design
Designers rarely have the time to consider the long-term and indirect effects of their technologies. What are effects of the product on the larger community, what happens when the product is used in different cultures, and after the product is thrown away? Value Sensitive Design provides theory and method to account for human values in a principled and systematic manner throughout the design process.

Design approaches
You will receive introductory courses on three key design approaches for sustainability, including Social innovation design and circular product design. You will get a chance to experiment with each of these in practice labs.

Demystify Green
In Demystify Green, you will investigate and numerically substantiate a sustainable claim found in current media. The course includes several lectures and workshops by experts from different faculties of TU Delft on research and fact checking, data visualisation, storytelling, and how to present like a pro. 

Master classes
A series of master classes will expose you to a wider range of design techniques and professional skills, e.g. biomaterials, system mapping, or entrepreneurship. 

Design challenge
The design challenge is a team effort: you will work together in groups of 4-5 students from different faculties. You will explore a specific sustainability transition topic, provided by an external client, and put to practice the acquired knowledge and design techniques. You will be designing a system map and a concept for a new product, service, system, or other type of design that can support a transition.

For Whom?

Engineering, architecture, design and business students from universities worldwide on a level comparable to that of the TUDelft. Minors of the IDE faculty are open only for students from academic programmes.