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

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A systemic typology of natural nonhuman stakeholders when designing for sustainability

Emīlija Veselova and İdil Gaziulusoy

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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Playthink | Patricia Kambitch

Posted September 2021

Attribution

RSD proceedings are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. This permits anyone to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or form according to the licence terms.

Suggested Citation Format (APA)

Author(s) (20XX). Article title. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSDX) Symposium. rsdsymposium.org/LINK.

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