Courses Overview >> Short courses >> Transition Design Short Course and International Design Symposium

Transition Design Short Course and International Design Symposium

Course dates: 
Monday, 11 June, 2018 to Saturday, 23 June, 2018
This course is full.

With Terry Irwin, Gideon Kossoff, Cameron Tonkinwise and Cheryl Dahle

This course is full, please sign up for the waiting list here.

There are still Syposium places available. To book a place on the Symposium only, please visit this link.

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” — Buckminster Fuller

Join us for a short course in Transition Design from 11-20 June followed by the International Transition Design Symposium 21-23 June

Fee: £1550 for the short course and symposium: includes single accommodation and all meals for the short course (11th – 20th June) including field trips, materials and all teaching sessions as well as the International Transition Design Symposium ticket (Thursday 21st June 18.30- Saturday 23rd June, 17.00). Reserve your place below for £150.00 deposit. If you would like to book onto the Transition Design short course only for £1,350, please call our short course administrator on 01803 847237.

What is Transition Design?

Transition Design is a transdisciplinary, design-led approach aimed at systems-level change. It was pioneered at the internationally renowned Carnegie Mellon University’ School of Design, and is offered in the UK this year, for the second time, following a sell-out course in 2016.

Transition Design proposes that the tools and processes of design can be used by activists and practitioners from all walks of life as well as designers, to develop solutions that contribute to significant, positive societal transitions.

Transition Designers work to reimagine entire lifestyles and infrastructures (policies, energy resources and food, health-care, transport and education systems) to not only be more sustainable, but also more convivial. Transition Design focuses on cosmopolitan localism, a lifestyle that is place-based and regional, yet global in its awareness and exchange of information and technology.

Transition Design applies a deep understanding of the interconnectedness of social, economic and natural systems to develop solutions that leverage the power of interdependency and symbiosis. It explores the role of design in negotiating between the transition society is already undergoing, and the transition toward the future we want.

What will you take away?

This pioneering course will introduce you to the emerging Transition Design process, providing you with a set of principles and practical approaches that can be applied to complex “wicked” problems, resolving conflicts among diverse stakeholder groups, and re-conceiving communities and whole lifestyles, based upon co-created, long-term visions of more sustainable futures.

This course is for you if:

• You are a transition/sustainability/social/community activist seeking to incorporate design thinking and practice into your work, especially if you work in transdisciplinary teams
• You are a professional designer of any kind seeking to extend your practice into social and environmental fields.
• You are working in a specialist field other than design and would like to explore how transition design can support and supplement your work, and the contribution that your field can make to transition design.
• You are a layperson interested in learning more about how to think about developing solutions to complex social and environmental problems.
• You teach design and would like to incorporate Transition Design into your curriculum.
• You would like an overview of the emerging field of Transition Design.
• You would like to meet, study and network with others who are interested in transition design and related fields.

What will you learn?

The course will introduce the Transition Design Framework, and explore its origins, influences and inspirations (including the Transition Town Network, Sustainability Transitions Network, Socio-Technical Transition Management, Great Transition Initiative and lifestyles-based approaches such as the EU SPREAD initiative).

The course will also explore the emerging, design-led process for framing complex problems and seeding positive, societal transition. The Transition Design Process is comprised of three phases: 1) Re-Framing the present and future; 2) Developing design interventions to seed systems-level change; 3) Waiting and observing, to see how the system responds.

Phase I: Reframing Past and Present introduces participants to: visualizing and mapping a complex problem, understanding and resolving diverse stakeholder concerns and conflicts, co-creating compelling visions of desirable futures (as a way of transcending our differences in the present), back-casting from the future vision to create a “transition pathway” along which projects in the near and mid-term future can be situated (in this way, projects are “steps” in longer transitions).

Phase II: Designing Interventions involves designing “interventions” aimed at seeding transition. Instead of thinking in terms of one-off projects, Transition Design calls for developing “systems interventions” that are placed strategically to catalyse systems-level change. Several approaches that can lead to more effective solutions/interventions include: Multi-level perspective tool, the domains of everyday life framework, Max-Neef’s theory of needs and satisfiers, and social practice theory among others. Together these approaches can help stimulate change within large systems (communities, organizations or even systems problems such as water shortages, crime, forced migration, etc.), but can also lead to more effective solutions to smaller problems.

Phase III: Waiting and Observing calls for a new approach to problem solving—waiting and observing. Transition Design argues that seeding change within large, complex systems is slow, patient work and that waiting and observing the effects of projects and initiatives is as important as the action that’s been taken. As a society, we’re not very good at this—we want quick, measurable results, but this can also lead to hasty solution with unanticipated, negative consequences.

About the course:

Format: The course will combine lectures and group exercises with a studio-based team project that introduces the Transition Design process and provides participants with practice approaches to supplement the work they are already doing, or provide a basis for pivoting their practice into a new direction.

Key themes explored: cosmopolitan localism; the significance of living systems theory; the influence of worldview on design; everyday life as the fundamental context for transition; stakeholder concerns and relations; the theory of needs and satisfiers as a way of assessing the well-being of communities.

Key skills taught: visioning/future casting, narrative and storytelling, visualizing/mapping wicked problems, an approach to stakeholder conflict resolution.

Design context: The course will also explore the relationship of transition design to other established and emerging areas of design practice, such as service design and design for social innovation, and emphasise the importance of design processes that involve collaboration, participation and co-creation.

The Transition Design Symposium:

The short course is followed by a two-day international Transition Design Symposium bringing together leaders in the field to discuss how Transition Design might catalyse rapid societal transformation, in which you will be invited to play an active role.

Learn More about the Transition Together International Transition Design Symposium here

Delivered in collaboration with the Ecological Design Thinking programme at Schumacher College.

For more detailed information on Transition Design:

Terry Irwin

Terry Irwin

Professor and Head, School of Design, Carnegie Mellon University
Terry has been a designer for over 40 years and has taught design at the University level since 1986. She was a founding partner and creative director of the transdisciplinary design firm MetaDesign with offices in San Francisco, Berlin, London, and Zurich. There she directed projects for clients such as Apple Computer, Nissan Motors, Berlin Transport Authority, Audi, Ernst & Young, Sony and Samsung among others.

In 2001, after becoming increasingly frustrated with the connections she saw between design solutions and the complex problems confronting society (pollution, over consumption, depletion of natural resources, etc.) Terry decided to leave professional design practice and return to school. A three week short course at Schumacher College in 2002 with environmentalist and physicist Fritjof Capra inspired her to move to Devon in 2003 to undertake full time studies in Schumacher’s MSc in Holistic Science. Her MSc thesis explored how principles of living systems could inform a more responsible and sustainable design process.
In 2004 Terry joined the faculty at Schumacher College and taught design thinking. In 2007 she moved to Scotland to undertake PhD studies at the Centre for the Study of Natural Design at the University of Dundee where her research explored the concept of worldview and mindset as the basis for more sustainable ways of designing.

In 2009 she moved to Pittsburgh to become Head of the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University where she led faculty in a 2-1/2 year redesign to place sustainability at the heart of all programs and curricula. In fall of 2014 the School launched all new programs and introduced Transition Design as an area of doctoral study and as a key strand in both undergraduate and graduate curricula. She is actively engaged in helping other colleges and universities to integrate Transition Design into courses and curricula.

Gideon Kossoff

Gideon Kossoff

Coodinator of Doctoral Studies and Adjunct Professor, School of Design, Carnegie Mellon University
Gideon Kossoff is a social ecologist/social theorist whose research focuses on holism and the tradition of anti-authoritarian social and political thinking. He teaches Transition Design courses to undergraduates, graduates and Phd students in the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University. He has been involved in sustainability and green activism for his entire career, and studied at the Institute for Social Ecology in Vermont with its founder, ecophilosopher and social ecologist Murray Bookchin. From 1998 to 2007 Gideon was programme administrator and course tutor for the MSc in Holistic Science at Schumacher College, where he also managed the College library and built its extensive collection of books, and regularly created chaos in the kitchen.

Gideon completed his PhD in design at the Centre for the Study of Natural Design at the University of Dundee, Scotland. In his doctoral thesis, he combined a concept he calls ‘radical holism’ with holistic science and began to develop the concept of Transition Design. His doctoral thesis was entitled 'Holism and the Reconstitution of Everyday Life: a Framework for Transition to a Sustainable Society’. It is summarised in the book 'Grow Small, Think Beautiful' edited by Stephan Harding and published by Floris. Gideon would like to spend more time doing astrology and delving into the esoteric tradition.

Cameron Tonkinwise

Cameron Tonkinwise

Cameron has a background in philosophy and his doctoral dissertation concerned the educational philosophies of Martin Heidegger. He continues to research what designers can learn from philosophies of making, material culture studies and sociologies of technology. His primary area of research is sustainable design, focusing on the design of systems that lower societal materials intensity, primarily by decoupling use and ownership - in other words, systems of shared use. Cameron has published a range of articles on the role of design, particularly service design, in the promotion of the sharing economy and collaborative consumption. He has extensive experience with practice-based design research, having supervised and examined reflective practice and artifact-based research projects and written about the epistemologies particular to this kind of work.

Cameron was the Associate Dean Sustainability at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City, and before that Co-Chair of the Tishman Environment and Design Center and the Chair of Design Thinking and Sustainability in the School of Design Strategies. He was Director of Design Studies at the University of Technology, Sydney, and executive Director of Change Design, formerly known as the EcoDesign Foundation.

Cheryl Dahle

Cheryl Dahle is an entrepreneur and journalist who works at the intersection of design and systems change. She is co-founder and CEO of Flip Labs, a social innovation design firm. The company’s first foray into systems work was tackling the global problem of overfishing through its Future of Fish initiative, which Dahle founded and led for seven years. The project became a non-profit innovation hub that supports the collective impact of entrepreneurs whose ideas help end overfishing. Future of Fish was one of two national finalists in the 2012 Buckminster Fuller Challenge, which recognizes insightful system approaches to complex problems.

Dahle previously was a director at Ashoka, where she distilled knowledge from the organization’s network of 2,500 fellows to provide strategic insights to foundations and corporations. 
She is a Distinguished Adjunct of Professional Practice at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design. Dahle has also lectured at Stanford University and the Said Business School at Oxford University, where she has partnered with the Skoll Centre for Entrepreneurship on multiple programs.

£ 1 550.00
Course fees include single accommodation for the duration of the short course and symposium, International Transition Design Symposium ticket, all meals, field trips, materials and all teaching sessions. If you do not want to attend the weekend symposium, please call our short course administrator on +44 (0)1803 847237.