Critical Thinking for Design and Cultural Change towards Sustainability

The take-up of ‘Design Thinking’ beyond professional design plus the challenges of sustainability are changing what it means to be a designer. Cross disciplinary and post-disciplinary design thinking is called for, but this needs intellectual resourcing – more than just the instrumental application of ‘theory’ from the Social Sciences. Drawing on philosophy, social and cultural theory, we carry out systematic enquiry into the assumptions underlying design practice; we expose and communicate the ‘world-shaping’ nature of design so as to prompt within the design professions and those constituencies working on social change towards sustainability, a deeper understanding of the nature of the unsustainable in its multiple, everyday forms. We develop and trial design thinking concepts for change (e.g. ‘designing back from the future’, ‘elimination design’). Our research and its dissemination are closely linked – this is a strategic decision. Examples are the establishment of a refereed journal, Design Philosophy Papers, collaborative projects on Design Futuring with Griffith University, University of Western Sydney, Carnegie Mellon University and University of Cincinnati.