Teaching Design for Sustainability for Socioeconomic Ecosystems—Three Case Studies
This paper presents our teaching method and insights gained through conducting a course on system design for sustainability for undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctoral students with an intervention focus on socioeconomic ecosystems (SEEs): A context where the economic activities of the community are deeply ingrained in the sociocultural ways of living is a multi-stakeholder ecosystem, and the economic activities are distributed in nature. The key issue tackled in the teaching strategy is: How to understand and explore sustainable socio-ethical orientating of a SEE in the Indian context? The objectives of the course are: introduce design for sustainability (DfS) in a global context and SEE in Indian context; investigate sustainability in a scenario which is abundant with years of tested methods of living in harmony with nature and themselves; identify new challenges entering the system and its impact on sustainability; and ideate socioculturally apt sustainable PSS. Our key finding, sustainability, as a concept, is complex for students at all levels, and they find difficulty in conceptualizing systems where sustainability is in economic advantage of the stakeholders. We observe an overall improvement in systems thinking, interdisciplinary approach, and anticipatory competence of students. The paper concludes with recommendations and strategies for enriching and restructuring a DfS course.
KeywordsDesign for sustainability pedagogy Socioeconomic ecosystems Multi-stakeholder ecosystems Sustainable Socio-ethical orientation Higher education for sustainable development
We sincerely thank the people of Bordowa and Sualkuchi, all co-instructors, and our LeNS team.
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