DS 123: Proceedings of the International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE 2023)

Year: 2023
Editor: Buck, Lyndon; Grierson, Hilary; Bohemia, Erik
Author: Almrott, Ceri
Series: E&PDE
Institution: Technological University Dublin, Ireland
Section: Responsible innovation in design and engineering education
DOI number: 10.35199/EPDE.2023.64
ISBN: 978-1-912254-19-4


Philippe Bihoux, in his 2014 work, L’Âge des low tech: vers une civilization techniquement soutenable suggests that developing increasingly high-tech solutions to address the sustainability crisis is a hopeless cause [1]. Instead, an appreciation of energy sobriety and material conservation as we move to embrace low-tech developments would yield more impactful results. Internationally, design courses offer a range of approaches to teaching and embedding sustainability theory amongst their student body. From focusing on behaviour change [2], and imparting knowledge on sustainable design and manufacturing approaches [3] to a focus on developing product solutions which encourage improved product lifespans [4] there are many worthwhile pedagogies which can be imparted to our students. Low-tech approaches to sustainability require designers to question assumptions held about users’ energy needs through the lens of energy sobriety. Their solutions should reduce technological intensity and complexity whilst encouraging a commons approach to the implementation of a solution. This paper investigates and discusses a project-based learning approach to sustainability design education which focuses on Bihoux’s ideas around sobriété and low-tech development to challenge students to solve everyday design problems with reduced technological intensity. [1] P. Bihoiux, The Age of Low Tech, English Tr. Bristol, United Kingdom: Bristol University Press, 2014. [2] C. Boks and J. Z. Daae, “Design for sustainable behaviour in design education,” in Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education: Design Education for Future Wellbeing, EPDE 2012, 2012, no. September, pp. 611–616. [3] A. T. Butt, E. W. Causton, and M. A. Watkins, “Embedding Sustainability in the Engineering Curriculum: a Complimentary Approach To Performance Engineering and Sustainable Design,” in Proceedings of the 22nd International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education, E and PDE 2022, 2022, no. September, pp. 9–14, doi: 10.35199/epde.2022.24. [4] C. Green, “Thinking Beyond the Product Moment: Addressing Issues Around ‘Keeping,’” in Proceedings of the 22nd International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education, E and PDE 2022, 2022, no. September, doi: 10.35199/epde.2022.103.

Keywords: Product Design, Design Education, Sustainability, Low Tech, Studio Practice


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