Sustainable Design – Ecology, Culture and Human Built Worlds

Sustainable Design – Ecology, Culture and Human Built Worlds 2018

Spring 2018 weeks 03-22 (15 January – 3 June) – evening – 25% – Campus

Application at »

Application Deadline: 2017-10-16

Enrolment Code: UU-69513

Language of Instruction: English

Location: Uppsala

Selection: Higher education credits

Entry Requirements: 60 credits

Fees: If you are not a citizen of a European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) country, or Switzerland, you are required to pay application or tuition fees. Formal exchange students will be exempted from tuition fees, as well as the application fee. Read more about fees.

Application Fee: SEK 900

Tuition fee, first semester: SEK 16250

Tuition fee, total: SEK 16250

About the course

How can an interdisciplinary approach to design unlock new creativity and beauty? How can different design solutions in nature serve as a model for new human made designs? And what are the limits of human ingenuity and creative design?

This course looks at design from an interdisciplinary, critical and philosophical perspective, with focus on different theories and models that turns present conventions of design on its head. With inspiration from ecology and nature, and in-depth discussion of how cultural conditions define human perceptions of the environment, the course tries to reach practical conclusions on how creative design can contribute to a sustainable and better world. The course combines interactive workshops with inspiring guest lectures.

Spring 2017

Welcome to the Sustainable Design course! The beginning of the semester is getting closer and below you will find a welcome letter with essential information about the course and a preliminary course schedule. The schedule is subject to change, so be sure to check here and studentportalen for the last update.

Hope you are excited about the journey ahead! We are looking forward to meeting you all. Please drop us a line at if you have any questions.


Dani and Isabel


Literature for the course includes the following:

Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change – By Victor Papanek Paperback, completely revised Second Edition, 394 pages, Published by Academy Chicago Publishers (first published 1972). Please note: If you can better access the first edition of the book this will be sufficient as well.

Online Course Compendium A collection of literature by various authors. It is comprised of selected articles and media, from books, academic journals, design handbooks, and other sources. Most guest lecturers have also recommended articles to include in this collection. These will be posted on studentportalen throughout the course.


Coming soon! However you can see examination from last year’s course below to get a gauge of the examination style.


Welcome to the course post


Spring 2016

Course Materials

Welcome to Sustainable Design: Ecology, Culture and Human Built Worlds. Here you will find all course assignments and other information.

Schedule and Course Information

  • Course Schedule 2016 (last update 12 April) – NEW!
  • Reading Guide for Design for the Real World
  • Course Reader Table of Contents
  • List of potential 2nd Book
  • Welcome Letter with required literature list
  • Detailed Course Information
  • UU Syllabus
  • Mid-term Evaluation SDesign 2016

Assignments and Instructions

  • Assignment 1: Spaceship Earth (deadline 09 Feb)
  • Seminar 1 Literature Review Preparations (deadline 10 Feb)
  • Seminar 1 Make Up for Task (if you were not at the Seminar)
  • Assignment 2: Analysis of Design (deadline 08 March)
  • Mini-Design Challenges Instructions
  • Seminar 2 Instructions and Literature Review Preparation Task (deadline 16 March)
  • Seminar 2 Make Up Task (if you were not at Seminar 2) 
  • Workshop 2 Preparation Task: ‘Design What?’ (deadline Tue 29th March)
  • Workshop 2 Make Up Task (if you were not at the Workshop) 
  • Assignment 3: The Design Project Instructions
  • Assignment 3: The Design Project List of Design Groups
  • Peer Review 1 
  • Peer Review 2 Groups & Instructions

Extra Lectures, Workshops and Opportunities

  • Prototyping the Future Workshop for TekNAT Science and Technology Faculty, UU
  • Literature for April 6 lecture “Sensing Energy…” by, Loove Broms  –excerpt from Storyforming: Experiments in creating discursive engagements between people, things, and environments, click here for Chapters 1, 2 and part of 3. Recommended you read at least chapters 1&2.

Lecture Materials


Latest Post

May 17

Bring your computer to Workshop 3 + Field Trip

Hello everyone,

Tomorrow we will have Workshop 3 where you will have time to develop the way you want to present your project during the Sustainability Festival next week. But also as a part of tomorrow’s session you will have time to fill in the Final Evaluation and since we have created it online, we would like to ask you to bring your laptops.

We have been talking a lot about the Field Trip and since we are running out of time we decided that the they for the Field Trip will be this Saturday, May 21st. We will take the train to Stockholm around 13h and will have a guided tour with Paula von Seth through the Moderna Museet. More information and registration here(you must be signed into facebook to see it!


Also, under Lecture Materials you will find the slides from Loove’s lecture and different links that Jan was using during his sessions (see NEW!). Have a look and save it for your records if you want!

Looking forward to see you all tomorrow!

Lakin and Alejandro

April 12

Peer Review 1: Instructions + Jan van Boeckel session

Hello everyone,

As we said in the last session, next week we are going to have the Peer Review 1. Above, under “Assignment and Instructions” (see NEW!) you will find a document with the “Groups and Instructions” to prepare the peer review. Be aware that there is a deadline before next Monday to email a document to the group you are reviewing and to us. Have a look on the instructions and let us know if you have questions or comments.

Tomorrow, we will have the session “At the Heart of Art and Earth” with Jan von Boeckel, artist and associate professor at Estonian Academy of Arts, to explore different ways how we can approach sustainability problems in general and also connected to your Design Projects.

Looking forward to see you all tomorrow!

Lakin and Alejandro

April 1

Lots of New Material Added to this page

All of these now available (see NEW!):

1. Workshop 2 Materials (the PP slides and handouts from today)

2. The Literature for next week’s lecture “Sensing Energy…” is written our guest lecturer, Loove Broms and directly related to the lecture. It’s an excerpt from Storyforming: Experiments in creating discursive engagements between people, things, and environments, click here for Chapters 1, 2 and part of 3. NEW!

3. Weekend Workshop Materials – Flip- Chart instructions used to help move the workshop forward + the Idea Generation Methods we all used

4. Workshop 2 Make Up Task. If you were not in class during the Workshop 2 the Make Up Task is due latest by 8th of April.

See you next week!

Lakin and Alejandro

March 21 

Start-up Task for your Design Group  +  Literature for ‘Nudging’ lecture

Thanks for an exciting and exhausting Weekend Workshop experience!

1. You will find a startup task for your group posted here on the course portal under The Design Project, Information and Instructions. Link here: Design What?’ Prep for Workshop 2

2. Next Wednesday, March 23rd, designer Sille Krukow will join us to speak about ‘Nudging’ and Behaviour Change. Since it is not included in the Course Reader, we uploaded it to Studentportalen, under Literature. The following are the compulsory resources for next Wednesday.


Film Clips 

Lakin and Alejandro

March 17th

General Update

Hello everyone,

First of all, thanks for yesterday Seminar and after Seminar!

We have a lot of updates and information to share with you so, have a look and contact us if you have questions:

  1. Make Up Task Seminar 2. If you missed the Seminar 2, you will find the Make Up Task above, under Assignments and Instructions.
  2. Group Formation. Also during Seminar 2, the teams for the Design Project were formed. You can see the teams and topics here (SDesign Teams 2016). Those of you who were not in the Seminar are going to join a common group. You will be working together during the Weekend Workshop and we will give you some guidelines in order to agree in a topic, etc.
  3. Weekend Workshop. This Sunday we are going to meet in the CEMUS Library for the Weekend Workshop, It will be from 12h to 17h and there will be a potluck afterwards (but that will be organized in the Facebook group). During this workshop, we will also inform you about the Project Instructions and the Preparations for Workshop 2.
  4. Poetics of Biomimicry Slides – Anna Maria Orru,09 March. As promised, Anna Maria shared her slides with us. Above, under Lecture Materials, you will find the link to the presentation.
  5. Literature for ‘Design to Change Behavior: Nudging and Sustainability’. Next Wednesday, March 23rd, we are going to have a lecture with Sille Krukow about ‘Design to Change Behavior: Nudging and Sustainability’, and since it is not included in the Course Reader 2016, you uploaded it into the Studentportalen, under Literature. The following are the compulsory resources for next Wednesday (and you have two extra recommended resources here):


Film Clips 

Have a nice end of the week, and looking forward to see you on Sunday!


Lakin and Alejandro

March 11th

Preparation Task for Seminar 2 Next Week + Assignment 2 Feedback

Hello travellers in design,

A reminder to check the Seminar 2 instructions & preparation task you need to submit by 12:00 Wednesday. In the Seminar 2 we will do two main things:

  • review and discuss Victor Papanek’s book ‘Design for the Real World’. We will discuss the book and respond to questions in a participative way you may not have seen before. For this you need to submit the written work at the link above.
  • create your Design Groups for the challenging Design Project you’ll work in in the second half of the course, so you need to bring ideas. Check the instructions above for more.

Also, your Assignment 2:Analysis of Design are in, and they look fascinating. Many of you took this assignment as an opportunity to really study a design in depth, and it has paid off. You will receive grading and feedback on these as soon as possible.

Lakin and Alejandro

February 24th

New suggestion for today’s lecture – lecturer has cancelled

Hi everyone,

Our lecturer, Camillo Calderon is very ill, and so he has cancelled today’s lecture on Participatory Design. We will be adding 2 more lecturers to the course next month, so they should compensate for this. For today’s session, we recommend a course-related discussion.

Those who are interested (it will probably be a smaller group than usual) join us in 12:004 to talk about the following:


1. Ask questions and discuss about Assignment 2: Analysis of Design. this is a very different assignment to the first Spaceship Earth assignment – it’s and analytical academic paper, that still asks you to interact with real world design examples. We can show some previous examples of student work, and discuss any questions with you.

2. Learn more about lecturers who will come later in the course, or about the content of upcoming workshops.

3. See examples of work from  previous classes’ design projects, and discuss the final design assignment for this course – what will it be? What should you should start thinking about? etc.

4. Discuss and suggest options for a possible field trip! (We usually have one every year)
Also, we can discuss anything else about the course, about design, etc. you have been wanting to ask about.

For those who need to complete the make-up task for Seminar 1 today, you should still come to the class and we will arrange this

See you in class, or next week for our lecture with Artist and Author Paula von Seth.


Lakin and Alejandro

February 19th

Make Up Task for Seminar 1

Hello everyone,

Hope everything is going fine!

As you might know, Seminars and Workshops during class time are a compulsory part of the examination. If you were not in class during last week’s Seminar 1 (February 10th), you will have to complete a Make Up Task if you want to pass the course.

You will find the MakeUp Task for Seminar 1 above, under Assignments and Instructions,

Note that the deadline is next Friday, February 26th, and also that there is a meeting to present you Spaceship Earth assignment after the lecture next week (February 24th).

Have a nice weekend and see you next week!


Lakin and Alejandro.

February 15th

Extra materials for Cradle to Cradle Design & the Circular Economy class

Hello everyone!

This week we will have our third guest lecture about Cradle to Cradle Design and the Circular Economy with Stuart Pledger. It’s recommended you focus on the literature for the week in the Course Reader (which Stuart also helped to put together). Stuart has sent us an email last week suggesting a few extra materials that can be interesting for you, for those who want to read deeper into the topic. These are not the required reading for the week, just optional extras.

Have a nice beginning of the week and see you on Wednesday!


Lakin and Alejandro.

February 9th

Seminar 1, Assignment 2, Course book reading guide, Mini-design challenges

Welcome to the fourth week! See you tomorrow for Seminar 1. In the first half of the seminar we explore the Spaceship Earth designs, and in the second half we discuss selected course literature. Remember to submit Spaceship Earth and also complete the literature review preparation task.

You will now find new instructions available at the links above:

  • Assignment 2: Analysis of Design
  • Reading guide for course book Design for the Real World
  • Mini Design Challenges

We will discuss these in the Seminar tomorrow.

See you then,

Lakin and Alejandro.

January 21st

Course Introduction and Course Readers

Hello everyone,
First of all thank you for yesterday’s session!
We think that it was a great start of the journey through this Sustainable Design course. There were interesting discussions during the class and also interesting questions that you posted in the wall. We hope that during the following weeks your are going to have some answers and, probably, more questions related with Sustainability and Design!
With that said, now time for a few practicalities:
  • Under the Lecture Materials section (above), you will find the slides from the Course Introduction, along with the Course Reader table of contents.
  • We have received new Course Readers now. You can collect them from us at CEMUS at geocentrum on Friday 10-16:00, Monday 10-17:00, Tuesday 10-17:00.
  • Here you have the link to the Facebook Group: Sustainable Design CEMUS 2016. It is closed but you should be able to request to join!

Have a nice end of the week and keep an eye here for news or email us if you have any questions!

All the best,

Alejandro & Lakin

January 13th

Course Reader & Literature for Week 1

Hello everyone,
We hope you are at least as excited as we are to start the Sustainable Design: Ecology, Culture and Human Built Worlds course 2016!! In one week we will see each other to begin the journey through the course during the Spring semester but now we have some information and readings to share with you before we meet.
Last week you received the Preliminary Schedule and the Welcome letter (you can check the updated documents above, under “Schedule & Course Info” section), and now we are sending you information about the literature and the readings for our first session together.
Next week we will introduce ourselves and explain more about the course: structure, content, examination, etc. but one thing that we can explain now is that all the articles, videos and readings for the course will be included in our Course Reader, where you will find the recommended sources for every weeks’ lectures. The Course reader will be available to buy next week, during the “Course Introduction“, and it will cost between 150 and 200 sek, so you will need to bring cash to purchase it. As an exception, and since you don’t have the course reader yet, we have uploaded the articles for next week in the StudentPortalen, under the section “Literature Week 1“.
Before we meet next week, you should watch the following two videos, and read the three files that you will find in the Studentportalen:
  • (Video) Welcome to the Anthropocene (2012, 3min38). Available at:
  • (Video) Ken Robinson: Changing Education Paradigms (2010, 11min40). Available at:
  • Chick, Anne & Micklethwaite, Paul, 2011. Chapter 1: Design is to Design a Design to Produce a Design, inDesign for Sustainable Change: How Design and Designers Can Drive the Sustainability Agenda. Switzerland: Ava Pub.
  • Margolin, Victor, 1998. Design for a Sustainable World, Design Issues Vol. 14 no. 2, MIT Press.
  • Brown, Tim and Wyatt, Jocelyn, 2010. Design Thinking for Social Innovation: IDEO.
As we said, this is an exception. We will only use the StudentPortalen for submitting assignments, otherwise we will use this portal to communicate with you and upload materials (lecture slides, assignments, etc.).
Hope you are getting ready for a journey. We are looking forward to meeting you all next week.

All the best,

Alejandro and Lakin