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When a Tree is also a Multispecies Collective, a Photosynthesis Process, and a Carbon Cycle

Format: Papers, RSD10, Topic: Methods & Methodology, Topic: Socioecological Design

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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Citation Data

Author(s): Emilija Veselova and Idil Gaziulusoy
Title: When a Tree is also a Multispecies Collective, a Photosynthesis Process, and a Carbon Cycle
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
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First published: 3 September 2021
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