CN01 - How Complexity Science can Support Design for Societal Change

Conveners: Ella Jamsin, Conny Bakker. & Paul Hekkert

At the core of design for sustainability lies a conundrum: While  designers’ output is at the level of products, services and companies, sustainability is an issue of global scale. The success of designs with ambitious sustainability aims is therefore often highly dependent on
complex social dynamics among humans and organisations: How quickly and widely will a product be adopted by users? How will a solution change the dynamics of its users or of an industry? Who to collaborate with to develop a given innovative sustainable business model?

In the past few decades, a collection of scientific disciplines has given rise to analytical models of complex systems, including social ones. Many of these models have the potential to deliver powerful tools for designers aiming to improve sustainability, such as computer simulation, guidance, and methodologies. Arguably, such applications of complexity science to design for sustainability are still in their infancy.

This conversation’s aim is to catalyse research and collaboration towards developing complexity science-based tools for design towards sustainability. To this end, we will discuss a few theories and methods form complexity science and will develop together a perspective on the needs of designers. 


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