Emīlija Veselova and İdil Gaziulusoy
A systemic typology of natural nonhuman stakeholders when designing for sustainability
Design is increasingly aware of the sustainability crisis. Various initiatives have started to argue for a need to acknowledge and accommodate the needs of natural entities and systems in relation to sustainability. Such more-than-human considerations have also entered collaborative and participatory design. However, there yet seems to be a lack of broad and systemic perspectives on which natural entities to consider when designing for sustainability. Therefore, we developed a systemic typology of natural nonhuman stakeholders based on empirical study in a garden and analysis rooted in the distinctions, relationships, systems, perspectives – DRSP – theoretical structure for systems thinking. Our typology suggests seven distinct types: individual organisms, single-species collectives, multispecies collectives, life processes, living systems, biogeochemical cycles and processes of the atmosphere. However, our findings indicate that one living entity represents several stakeholder types simultaneously. This illuminates a tension between the simplistic and systemic view of stakeholders in collaborative design and calls for a shift towards systemic mental models and new theories, approaches, methods and tools. In this article, we present our methodology and the developed typology; then, we discuss the potential implications of the typology on collaborative and participatory design and avenues for further research.
Keywords: more-than-human design, multispecies design, co-design, systems thinking, design for sustainability
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