Designing Learning Scenarios Workshop
square-50cm-spacer.jpg Designing Learning Scenarios for Futures of Sustainability is a WORKSHOP run by two of our core team members

Nordes 2
Co-facilitated by Hannah Jones and Anette Lundebye

WHEN: grey-spacer.png 9th June 2015 between 10am - 1.00pm grey-spacer.png WHERE grey-spacer.png NORDES 2015 Design Ecologies Conference grey-spacer.png


    • (Places will be limited to a maximum of 15 participants)
  • We welcome a variety of designers and non-designers
  • PLEASE BRING: any news article that might relate to the ‘Futures of Sustainability’
    • As you will be working in a special team, so please commit to staying for the full duration of the workshop


Understanding sustainability in terms of our complex, dynamic and inter-connected socio-ecological systems requires a different mindset (or paradigm) from the industrial mode of thinking that has driven educational practice over the last century (Orr, 2004, Wood, 2007). Rather than fragmenting the world into separate disciplines for the sake of efficiency, an alternative whole systems approach to sustainability education aims to join-up different skill-sets and types of knowledge to improve effectiveness (Sterling, 2001). This requires a shift from the delivery of knowledge via top-down pedagogic methods, to designing the conditions for a critical co-learning to take place. Here, co-learners work together in groups towards the generation of a shared knowledge or ‘knowledge ecology’ (Fairclough, 2005).

Educational context

Currently, in the UK and beyond, education for the arts and design is under stress, largely due to economic instability. How can we approach this as an opportunity to re-design design education to design itself, so that it can become really responsive and effective on behalf of the environment? Some hints at this lie in examples of more participatory, contextually imbedded design projects, such as, Marjetica Potrc’s Design for the Living World. Our ambitious 3-hour workshop positions this creative challenge in the arena of Design Ecologies.

  • We will focus on developing scenarios as a way to prospect how design education might respond to a range of possible ecological futures at a systemic level.
  • To achieve this we will use metadesign thinking and methods to support and innovate new modes of collaborative learning.

Metadesign is defined by digital media and interaction design researcher, Professor Elisa Giaccardi, as a ‘shared design endeavour aimed at sustaining emergence, evolution and adaptation’, where the ecological metaphor of ‘design seeding’ replaces a traditional notion of ‘design planning’ (Giaccardi, 2005). Earlier definitions of metadesign can be traced through the field of HCI to Gerhard Fischer’s notion of ‘inviting the creativity of others’ into the design process (Fischer, 2000). Even further back, the pioneer of design methods, John Chris Jones, defined metadesign as ‘the design of design processes and processes of change’ (Jones, 1970, 1991). All of these definitions have in common qualities of openness, collaboration, inclusivity and transformation.


This workshop will apply and adapt some of the collaborative tools and methods, which have been developed as part of ongoing research into metadesign at Goldsmiths, University of London. The focus of our research at Goldsmiths has been to optimise synergy within interdisciplinary design teams. This research began with the AHRC funded project ‘Benchmarking Synergy-levels within Metadesign’ (2005-2008), which aimed to explore and develop more joined-up approaches to design for sustainability. Our research has generated a set of metadesign principles for guiding more ethically and environmentally attuned design practice, and a collection of over 80 tools for working in creative teams, towards this goal.

Workshop Process

Participants will begin by sharing stories from the news that resonate with them as designers and citizens, which focus on sustainability (our definition of sustainability is broad, and examples might range from climate change, to dumping waste, to over fishing etc…). In teams, we will then distil and map issues, values and stakeholders from selected stories and critically discuss opportunities for design. Next, the teams will use this information to co-create rapid prototypes for imaginative, responsive learning experiences for designers. The teams will be asked to act out their prototype scenarios to the rest of the group for feedback. Finally, the whole group will engage in a scaling activity, mapping their learning scenarios across different orders of design, from product, to services, infrastructures and systems, to paradigms and ethos, to gain a systemic overview.

Workshop aims and goals

  • To explore ecological futures at a systemic level
  • To engage with metadesign thinking and methods
  • To innovate new modes of collaborative learning
  • To map, prototype, enact and scale learning scenarios in teams
  • To take away ‘seeds’ or starting points for developing future learning experiences


  • 1. Introduction to the workshop
  • 2. ‘I read the news today, oh boy…’ – sharing news articles
  • 3. Metadesign and Futures of Sustainability - a brief overview
  • 4. Distilling and mapping issues, values and stakeholders
  • 5. Prototyping and enacting learning scenarios
  • 6. Scaling your scenarios


Fairclough, K., in (editors) Jones, H., Eysler, A., and Wood, J., (2005). Agents of Change: A Decade of MA Design Futures. London, Goldsmiths, University of London.
Fischer, G., & Scharff, E., (2000). "Meta-Design—Design for Designers," 3rd International Conference on Designing Interactive Systems (DIS 2000), New York, pp. 396-405.
Giaccardi, E., (2005). “Metadesign as an Emergent Design Culture.” Leonardo 38, no. 4 (2005): pp. 342–349.
Lundebye, A. & Jones, H. (2013) A Manifesto for Designing Together in the 21st Century. Socially Responsive Design. Colophon: Kunsthøyskolen i Oslo/Oslo National Academy of the Arts. Oslo, ISBN 978-82-92613-43-6 (P8-9)
Jones, H. & Lundebye, A. (2012). Metadesign: A Dynamic Framework For Seeding Socially Responsive Design. Proceedings of 8th International Conference on Design & Emotion. 11th - 14th September 2012. Central St. Martins School of Art & Design, University of the Arts London.
Jones, J., C., (1970). Design Methods: Seeds of Human Futures. Chichester, Wiley and Sons.
Jones, J., C., (1991). Designing Designing. London, Architecture Design and Technology Press.
Orr, D., (2004). Earth in Mind: On Education, Environment, and the Human Prospect. Washington DC, Island Press.
Sterling, S., (2001). Sustainable Education: Revisioning Learning and Change. Schumacher Society. ISBN-13: 978-1870098991
Tham, M., and Jones, H., (2008), ‘Metadesign Tools: Designing the seeds for shared processes of change’. Changing the Change, An international conference on the role and potential of design research in the transition towards sustainability. Turin, Italy. 9th, 10th and 11th July 2008.
Wood, J., (2007). Design for Micro-Utopias: Making the Unthinkable Possible, Design for Social Responsibility. London, Ashgate.

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