From Consumer to Citizen: Engaging Students with Participative Methods in Design

  • Antony JohnstonEmail author
Part of the World Sustainability Series book series (WSUSE)


This paper takes as its staring point a debate series organised by the University of the Arts London in 2013 to explore the relationship between enterprise and sustainability within the creative arts. Traditionally designers have attempted to generate and respond to the desire of consumers through the creation of products. Increasingly this is perceived as unethical in that it contributes to an unsustainable world. In response designers are drawing upon design methodologies that refigure the consumer in different ways that include: user, public, citizen and co-designer. Such approaches draw upon participative methodologies requiring greater use of relational skills such as empathy and facilitation. This creates new challenges for design educators in terms of how to foster such skills which are tacit rather than formal. This paper will consider some concrete examples from design curricula to explore how educators are adapting teaching and learning approaches.


Design Sustainability Participation 


  1. Adorno T, Horkheimer M (1997) Dialectic of enlightenment: VersoGoogle Scholar
  2. Apple M (1982) Education and power. Routledge, NYGoogle Scholar
  3. Arnstein S (1969) A ladder of citizen participation. JAIP 35(4):216–224Google Scholar
  4. Blake J, Salvadori B (2013) Inside outside: sustainable printmaking., (last accessed 30/3/2014)
  5. Braungart M, McDonough W, Bollinger A (2006) Cradle-to-cradle design: creating healthy emissions strategy for eco-effective product and system design. J Cleaner Prod 1–12Google Scholar
  6. Brookfield S (2000) The concept of critically reflective practice. In: Wilson A, Hayes E (eds.) Handbook of adult and continuing education (new ed). Wiley, San Francisco, pp 33–49Google Scholar
  7. Cross N (ed) (1972) Design participation: proceedings of the design research society’s conference 1971. Academy Editions, LondonGoogle Scholar
  8. Eriksson E (2006) Empathetic understanding of the existential situation of fellow human beings as a field of knowledge. In: Holmberg J, Samuelsson B (eds) Drivers and barriers for implementing sustainable development in HE. UNESCO, ParisGoogle Scholar
  9. Graedel T, Allenby B, AT&T (1995) Industrial ecology. Prentice Hall/AT&T, New JerseyGoogle Scholar
  10. Jucker R (2014) Do we know what we are doing? Reflections on learning, knowledge, economics, community and sustainability. Accessed 5 Jan 2014
  11. Leonard P (1997) Postmodern welfare: reconstructing an emanicipatory project. Sage, LondonGoogle Scholar
  12. Lettenmeier M, Rohn H, Leidtke C, Schmidt-Bleek F (2009) Resource productivity in 7 steps. Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy. Accessed 30 March 2014
  13. Loewenthal D (2011) Post-existentialism and the psychological therapies: towards a therapy without foundations. Karnac, LondonGoogle Scholar
  14. Margolin V (1998) Design for a sustainable world. Des Issues 14(2):83–92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Margolin V (2002) The politics of the artificial. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  16. Parker J (2003) Reconceptualising the curriculum: from commodification to transformation. Teach High Educ 8(4):529–543CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Papaneka V (1972) Design for the real world: human ecology and social change, 2nd edn. Rev. Academy Editions, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  18. Rogers C (1957) The necessary and sufficient conditions of therapeutic personality change. In: Kirschenbaum H, Henderson V (1989) The Carl Rogers reader. Houghton Mifflin Company, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  19. Rogers C (1967) The interpersonal relationship in the facilitation of learning. In: Kirschenbaum H, Henderson V (eds) The Carl Rogers reader. Houghton Mifflin Company, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  20. Sanders E, Stappers J (2008) Co-creation and the new landscapes of design. CoDesign. Accessed 30 March 2014
  21. Shreeve A, Sims E, Trowler P (2010) ‘A kind of exchange’: learning from art and design teaching. High Educ Res Dev 29(2):125–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Tangyin K (2008) Reading Levinas on Ethical Responsibiltiy. In: Tze-wan Kwan (ed) Responsibility and commitment: eighteen essays in honor of Gerhold K. Becker Edition GorzGoogle Scholar
  23. Temple S, Hanrahan T (2013) Conscientious communicators. UAL, London. Accessed 30 March 2014
  24. Thackara J (2005) In the bubble: designing in a complex world. MIT, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  25. Trowler P (2001) Captured by the discourse? The socially constitutive power of new higher education discourse in the UK. Accessed 30 March 2014
  26. Wahl D, Baxter S (2008) The designer’s role in facilitating sustainable solutions. Des Issues 24(2):72–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Learning and Teaching in Art and DesignUniversity of the Arts LondonLondonUK

Personalised recommendations