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Scott Matter and Samuel Yu

Our presentation focuses on work in progress to use human-scale development (H-SD) as a guiding framework for contra-innovation. Our goal is to reorient value in design, innovation, and development toward human and planetary well-being. In the context of a dominant paradigm of design innovation for consumer capitalist growth, we see a hopeful alternative in the explicitly political aspirations of H-SD to nurture community self-reliance, promote collective human flourishing, and rebalance relationships among human and ecological systems. H-SD provides a powerful tool to diagnose current situations, propose preferred futures, proactively assess the potential consequences of innovation, and explain why some interventions produce unintended and unexpected harm.

This presentation will draw on a review of the literature and our practical experiences in teaching to introduce the H-SD approach and explore its potential. We will situate H-SD in relation to critical discourses in design scholarship, such as defuturing, design futuring, autonomous design, ontological design, Transition Design, and pluriversality. Then, we will present insights from our recent experiences teaching with H-SD in under- and post-graduate programs and with design, research, and innovation practitioners.

We will discuss how we’ve iteratively adapted teaching activities and materials to introduce and enable learners to apply key H-SD concepts, namely the distinctions between and systemic relationships among needs, satisfiers, and economic goods; how specific satisfiers can impede (as destroyers, inhibitors, or pseudo-satisfiers) or promote (as singular or synergic satisfiers) realisation of fundamental needs; and the complex relationships among needs, satisfiers, capabilities, poverties, and social pathologies.

Finally, we invite and hope to engage in further discussion about the adoption of H-SD in practice, particularly around the pragmatic and political considerations involved in shifting innovation, design, and futuring paradigms.

KEYWORDS: human-scale development, design innovation, design futuring, sustainability transitions, ontological design, planetary well-being, teaching and learning

RSD TOPIC(S): RSD: Learning & Education, RSD: Methods & Methodology

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Citation Data

Author(s): Scott Matter and Samuel Yu
Year: 2023
Title: Human-Scale Futuring for Planetary Well-being
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD12
Article No.: pre-release
URL: https://rsdsymposium.org/human-scale-futures
Host: Georgetown University
Location: Washington DC, USA
Symposium Dates: October 6–20, 2023
First published: 30 September 2023
Last update: no update
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404

Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design, RSD12

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