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: Perez, Santiago; Grimal, Lou; Gillot, Claudine
Series: E&PDE
Institution: Université de Technologie de Troyes, France
Section: Ethical, social and/or environmental issues in design and engineering, and their education
DOI number: 10.35199/EPDE.2023.103
ISBN: 978-1-912254-19-4


Integrating sustainability in design activities remains a challenge, as sustainability is a wicked issue, that is, complex, multidimensional, with no ideal solution. To achieve the integration of sustainability in design activities, the involvement of different stakeholders is absolutely necessary as such activities intersect Science, Economics, Politics and Human Behaviour, among other spheres of society. For decades, the third sector has contributed to re-appropriate social challenges and empower citizens to collectively propose solutions to different unsustainability crisis. In France, the ‘popular education’ model proposes different methods to deliver solutions based on the practice of ecological ethics in the design process. We have selected some case studies to demonstrate such integration (ecodesign, climate change and opting-out workshops). This article will make explicit the ecological ethics concerns otherwise implicit from each case study. Popular education is considered an alternative education paradigm focusing on improving the current social systems. Aiming on a logic of ‘reflection for action’, it puts together practitioners, thinkers and decision makers to emancipate the role of all stakeholders in building better societies. Its activities often take place outside of traditional education institutions, democratising also the space in which those reflections and actions take place. Often implicit in the logic of the ‘popular education’, concepts like 'commons', 'third-place' and 'milieu' seem to relate to the basics of ecological ethics. However, as ‘popular education’ activities are growing (in number and in power) we question the ecological ethics they carry themselves today. With a nearly chronological path, the field of Design for Sustainability has evolved from a technical perspective (product centred design), to reflection on different socio-technical approaches (human centred and nature centred design for example), and to systems and from insular to systemic reflections and solutions. In parallel with the evolution of the popular education model and the field of Design for Sustainability, ecological issues have become more evident and mature in the scientific literature, enabling scientists to merge the field of Design to with strong sustainability apporaches. Design for Strong Sustainability requires the integration of direct and indirect stakeholders to ensure the adequacy of the design to the milieu. This type of design is about making sure that technical systems will respect the planetary boundaries while enabling the co-habitation of all the stakeholders (nature, humans and infrastructure) within a defined geo-political space. So, we assume that the practice of Design for Strong Sustainability in ‘popular education’ contexts carry a particularly strong component of ecological ethics. We will explore such assumptions using three original pedagogical activities that currently complement educational programmes: an ecodesign hackathon involving students in design from engineering and artistic perspectives, a workshop on ‘renunciation’ (opting-out) where participants learn how to go 'mourn' and opt-out, and a Climate Fresk, where participants reflect on climate change. The output of the paper consist on the analysis of different pedagogical design workshops that take into account an ecological ethics approach. This analysis will help us to strengthen the relationship between pedagogical practices and ethics involved in strong sustainability design pedagogical activities.

Keywords: Ecological ethics, Design for Sustainability, Popular Education, Strong sustainability, Alternative educational paradigms


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