- NODUS Sustainable Design Research Group
Design for sustainability transitions is an emerging area of research and practice which integrates and expands theories of sustainability science, design and transition management. Recently sustainability transitions have been framed as design challenges with three main dimensions: creative, technical and political (Gaziulusoy & Ryan, 2017). With references to the multi-level perspective of system innovations, design for sustainability transitions investigates the niche socio-cultural practices and technologies to develop and analyse design scenarios for alternative futures using participatory approaches. Degrowth as a civic movement that challenges the continuous economic growth as a policy making goal, converges design for sustainability transitions in its holistic understanding of a need for systemic change. Yet, recent discussions in degrowth have called for a deeper understanding of actors that would carry out such transitions. This includes taking into consideration questions of power, gender, class, ethnicity and inter-species interactions, which are at times overlooked in analyses. It is our position that there is a need for expansion, diversification and deepening of theoretical groundings of design for sustainability transitions as well. In this article we provide a short history of this research and practice area, frame a theoretical perspective on degrowth integrating the implications of current relevant questions, integrate this theoretical perspective with design for sustainability transitions theories, and discuss implications for design and policy practice as well as degrowth research.