Events >> Transition Design Symposium: Can Design Catalyse the Great Transition?

Transition Design Symposium: Can Design Catalyse the Great Transition?

Friday, 17 June, 2016 - 18:00 to Sunday, 19 June, 2016 - 12:00

Confirmed panellists to date include: Andrew Simms, The New Weather Institute; Sevra Davis, RSA; Tom Crompton, Common Cause Foundation; Emma Dewberry, The Open University; Julie Richardson, Schumacher College; Robin Murray, The Young Foundation; Tony Greenham, RSA; Lucy Neal, Playing for Time; Hilary Cottam, design innovator & social entrepreneur; Dan Lockton, RCA; Lucy Kimbell, UAL: and Ingrid Mulder, Delft University of Technology; with an introduction from Rob Hopkins, Transition Network.

Participants on the Transition Design short course receive a 25% discount for the Transition Design Symposium.
Please follow this link for more information about the short course

The world is not short of examples of transition in action: from the global network of Transition Towns that began life in Totnes, to the myriad of community companies transforming energy supply the world over. But many remain sceptical whether current efforts can meet the scale of the challenges we collectively face, or do more than address one aspect of an interlinked set of challenges.

Transition Design argues that rapid societal transitions to sustainable futures are the most important challenges of the 21st century and that design and designers have a key, and yet unrealised, role to play in catalysing and shaping these transitions. Transition Design calls for the reconception of entire lifestyles and societal infrastructures (policies, energy resources and food, health-care and education systems) to be sustainable and convivial. It focuses on the need for cosmopolitan localism, a lifestyle that is place-based and regional, yet global in its awareness and exchange of information and technology. Transition Design brings together ideas and concepts about change itself; how it happens and how it can be catalysed to lead to positive societal and environmental transition. Transition Designers come from all walks of life and leverage the tools and approaches of design to create systems level change.

About the Symposium

This international symposium on the Dartington Estate in Devon, home to pioneering experiments in living in the twentieth of century, will bring together leading designers, educators, environmentalists and activists working, writing and researching on transition-related issues to explore the potential of Transition Design.

Invited panellists, all experts in their field, will respond to a formal ‘provocation’ which will inform and guide panel discussions for the Symposium. Attendees will be invited to participate in the discussions and join a growing worldwide network of people engaged in transition-related projects, initiatives and research.

The Symposium will begin on Friday evening, with a welcome reception and dinner on the beautiful Dartington Estate that will provide panelists and attendees with the opportunity to meet one another and begin conversations. Saturday will be comprised of panel discussions that address a range of issues related to design for transition. On Saturday evening participants will attend a meal allowing further time for relaxed conversation. On Sunday morning an Open Space session will provide a forum for a wide ranging discussion and a closing plenary will provide an opportunity for final reflections and proposals for next steps.

The Symposium will be built around a series of specially commissioned position papers, which will address questions such as:

  1. What is the role that design can/should play in rapid transitions to more sustainable futures?
  2. How can we foster the relationship between transition design and other transition projects and initiatives?
  3. What are the new knowledge and skills sets necessary to design for long horizons of time and solutions that must exist at multiple levels of scale?
  4. How can design tools and approaches be made more accessible/usable for transition practitioners, activists and researchers?
  5. How can design act as a facilitator/catalyst within transdisciplinary teams working on transition solutions?
  6. What can we learn from past examples of rapid societal transformation, and how far ahead can we ‘design’ for transition?
  7. What are the obstacles to global transformation, and how can design overcome them?
  8. Who do designers need to work with to create compelling visions of the future?
  9. What can Transition Design learn from the communities on the front line of change, particularly in the Global South?
  10. Can Transition Design catalyse societal tipping points for transition?

Papers and proceedings from the Symposium will be published by CMU and Schumacher College in the months following the event. Attendees who wish to submit an abstract for consideration by the organising panel should email: to request a copy of the ‘provocation’ that will be sent to invited panelists in April,2016.

Fee: £195. This covers single accommodation, opening reception, all meals (but not Sunday lunch) and attendance at the Symposium.

To book your place click here (link is external) or Telephone 01803 847070 (link is external)

Email ruth.potts @ to receive the symposium provocations (April 2016)

The Symposium is hosted by Schumacher College and Carnegie Mellon’s School of Design, in partnership with the New Weather Institute, the School of Design, Architecture and Environment at Plymouth University, The Centre for Global Political Economy at the University of Sussex and the Dartington Hall Trust.

It is co-organised by Terry Irwin, Gideon Kossof and Cameron Tonkinwise of Carnegie Mellon University working with Ruth Potts, Seaton Baxter and Mona Nasseri at Schumacher College.

Related Short Course:

Transition Design: New Solutions For Life on a Finite Planet

17/06/2016 to 24/06/2016

With Terry Irwin, Gideon Kossoff and Cameron Tonkinwise | Transition Design, an approach pioneered at Carnegie Mellon University and being brought to the UK for the first time, proposes that the tools and processes of design can be used by activists and practitioners from all walks of life to develop solutions that contribute to significant societal transitions. Read More...