Teaching to Find Design Opportunities for Behavior Change Through Causal Layered Analysis

  • Peter ScupelliEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 12192)


Change is exponential. Products and services are developed faster, hold a shorter shelf-life disrupted by new offerings, and exist within global challenges such as climate change and sustainability. We live in the Anthropocene Era with human-induced Climate Change and the sixth mass extinction. Design challenges for product/service creation are shifting from a paradigm of customer-centric focus linear system to a new paradigm that includes a broader planetary context with a circular economy. The Human-Centered Design Thinking process popularized by IDEO/Stanford identifies human-centered design opportunities for products and services through five steps: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test. Unfortunately, a mere customer-centric view of product or service is insufficient for planetary-scale challenges requiring a broader focus that includes all life forms and the planet’s health. Thus, moving forward, design for the 21st century requires broader perspectives; design educators are challenged to overcome the limitations of Human-Centered Design Thinking. The point of this paper is that Human-Centered Design Thinking needs to be used in conjunction with new design methods that take into account the larger planetary context over time. In this paper, I discuss how futures thinking methods can augment design thinking methods to overcome limiting human-centered worldviews, epistemologies, and ontologies. In particular, how Causal Layered Analysis (CLA) can augment designers’ creative responses to behavior change challenges such as rapid-decarbonization through four layers (e.g., litany, systems, worldview, myths/metaphors). We provide a case study on CLA from design courses taught to both undergraduate and graduate design students.


Dexign Futures Design Thinking Futures thinking Causal Layered Analysis Case study Design pedagogy 


  1. Architecture for Humanity: Design Like You Give a Damn: Architectural Responses to Humanitarian Crises. Metropolis Books, New York (2006)Google Scholar
  2. Baghai, M., Coley, S., White, D.: The Alchemy of Growth: Practical Insights for Building the Enduring Enterprise. Perseus Publishing, Cambridge (2000)Google Scholar
  3. Berman, D.B.: Do Good: How Designers Can Change the World. AIGA, Berkeley (2009)Google Scholar
  4. Bergmann, J., Sams, A.: Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day. International Society for Technology in Education, Eugene (2012)Google Scholar
  5. Brown, T., Kātz, B.: Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation. Harper Business, New York (2009)Google Scholar
  6. Buchanan, R.: Wicked problems in design thinking. Des. Issues 8(2), 5–21 (1992)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Claudio, L.: Waste couture: environmental impact of the clothing industry (2007)Google Scholar
  8. Davis, M.: Why do we need doctoral study in design? Int. J. Des. 2(3) (2008)Google Scholar
  9. DiSalvo, C., Sengers, P., Brynjarsdóttir, H.: Mapping the landscape of sustainable HCI. In: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 1975–1984. ACM, April 2010Google Scholar
  10. Doblin, J.: A short, grandiose theory of design. STA Des. J. Anal. Intuit. 6, 16 (1987)Google Scholar
  11. Extinction Rebellion: This Is Not a Drill: The Extinction Rebellion Handbook. Penguin Books (2019)Google Scholar
  12. Fry, T.: Design Futuring: Sustainability, Ethics and New Practice. Berg, Oxford (2008)Google Scholar
  13. Fry, T.: A New Design Philosophy: an Introduction to Defuturing. UNSW Press, Sydney (1999)Google Scholar
  14. Fuller, R.B.: Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale (1969)Google Scholar
  15. Inayatullah, S.: Causal layered analysis: poststructuralism as method. Futures 30(8), 815–829 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Inayatullah, S.: The Causal Layered Analysis (CLA) Reader: Theory and Case Studies of an Integrative and Transformative Methodology. Tamkang University Press, Tamsui, Taipei (2004)Google Scholar
  17. Inayatullah, S.: Causal layered analysis: an integrative and transformative theory and method. Futures Research Methodology, Version, 3 (2009)Google Scholar
  18. Inayatullah, S., Milojevic, I.: CLA 2.0: transformative research in theory and practice (2015)Google Scholar
  19. Institute for the Future. Accessed 20 Jan 2020
  20. Irwin, T., Kossoff, G., Tonkinwise, C., Scupelli, P.: Transition Design. Carnegie Mellon School of Design, Pittsburgh (2015)Google Scholar
  21. Jones, J.C.: Design Methods. Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York (1992)Google Scholar
  22. Kossoff, G.: Holism and the reconstitution of everyday life: a framework for transition to a sustainable society. Doctoral dissertation, University of Dundee, Centre for the Study of Natural Design, Dundee, Scotland (2011)Google Scholar
  23. Luebkman, C.: ICSID World Design Council Singapore 2009: Design2050 Studios. Commissioned by DesignSingapore Council a department within the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts, Singapore (2009)Google Scholar
  24. Mau, B.: Massive Change: Bruce Mau and the Institute Without Boundaries. Phaidon, London (2005)Google Scholar
  25. McCarthy, J.: Reflections on a flipped classroom in first year higher education. Issues Educ. Res. 26(2), 332–350 (2016).
  26. Norman, D.: DesignX: A Future Path for Design, 4 December 2014. Accessed 25 Jan 2020
  27. O’Reilly, T.: What Is Web 2.0, 30 Sept 2005. Accessed 31 Jan 2020
  28. Papanek, V.: Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change. Thames and Hudson, London (1972)Google Scholar
  29. Pastor, E.: The OTHER Design Thinking, 7 November 2013. Accessed 25 Jan 2020
  30. Ries, E.: The Lean Startup: How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Businesses. Portfolio Penguin, London (2011)Google Scholar
  31. Scupelli, P.: Teaching to transition design: a case study on design agility, design ethos, and dexign futures. Cuadernos del Centro de Estudios de Diseño y Comunicación, no. 73, pp. 111–132 (2019)Google Scholar
  32. Scupelli, P.: Designed transitions and what kind of design is transition design? Des. Philos. Pap. 13(1), 75–84 (2016)Google Scholar
  33. Scupelli, P., Fu, Z., Zheng, Y., Brooks, J.: Teaching to dexign futures in China: a vision for a blended learning pedagogy to be deployed at scale. In: 9th International Conference the Future of Education, Florence, Italy (2019a)Google Scholar
  34. Scupelli, P., Candy, S., Brooks, J.: Teaching futures: trade-offs between flipped classroom and design studio course pedagogies. In: IASDR 2019: Design Revolutions, 2–5 September 2019, Manchester, UK (2019b)Google Scholar
  35. Scupelli, P., Brooks, J.: What features of a flipped course improve design student learning experiences? In: 21st DMI: Academic Design Management Conference, Next Wave, 1–2 August 2018, London, UK (2018)Google Scholar
  36. Scupelli, P., Wasserman, A., Wells-Papanek, D., Brooks, J.: The futures of design pedagogy, learning, and education. In: 21st DMI: Academic Design Management Conference, Next Wave, 1–2 August, 2018, London, UK (2018)Google Scholar
  37. Scupelli, P., Wells-Papanek, D., Wasserman, A., Brooks, J.: Opening a design education pipeline 
from university to K-12 and back. In: IASDR 2017 Re: Research, 31 October–3 November 2017, Cincinnati (2017)Google Scholar
  38. Scupelli, P., Brooks, J., Wasserman, A.: Making dexign futures learning happen: a case study for a flipped, open-learning initiative course. In: Design Educators IDSA International Conference 2016: Making Things Happen, 17–20 August, Detroit, MI, USA (2016a)Google Scholar
  39. Scupelli, P., Wasserman, A., Brooks, J.: Dexign futures: a pedagogy for long-horizon design scenarios. In: Proceedings of DRS 2016, Design Research Society 50th Anniversary Conference, 27–30 June 2016, Brighton, UK (2016b)Google Scholar
  40. Shaftel, H. (ed.): Climate change: how do we know? NASA Global Climate Change. Earth Science Communications Team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 26 December 2019Google Scholar
  41. Wasserman, A.: Thinking about 50 years of design thinking (2011). Accessed 20 Jan 2020
  42. Wasserman, A., Scupelli, P.: Dexign the Future: Human Centered Innovation for Exponential Times (2013). Accessed 30 Jan 2020
  43. Wasserman, A., Scupelli, P., Brooks, J.: Learn! 2050 and design futures: lessons learned teaching design futures. In: Design Educators IDSA International Conference 2015: Future of the Future, 19–22 August, Seattle, WA (2015)Google Scholar
  44. United Nations, IPCC: Global Warming of 1.5 °C (2018).
  45. WBCSD - World Business Council for Sustainable Development (2009). Accessed 18 Jan 2020
  46. Webster, K.: The Circular Economy—A Wealth of Flows. Ellen MacArthur Foundation (2015)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of DesignCarnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA

Personalised recommendations