Sustainability : Designing for a Technological Utopia or Dystopia?

Stead, Michael (2023) Sustainability : Designing for a Technological Utopia or Dystopia? In: Flourish By Design :. Routledge, London. ISBN 9781032507682

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Designing for sustainability is all about the future. As a discipline, design is rightly concerned with bringing about positive change for the long-term flourishing of the planet. From atomic bomb fallouts to shampoo microplastics, the Earth’s environmental woes are indelibly linked to modern societies overconsumption of resources and the mass-waste that this creates, particularly Global North countries across Europe and North America. In an effort to curb their impacts, many of these country’s governments signed the Paris Agreement in 2015 with the collective goal of keeping global temperature increases to a maximum of 1.5 °C, as well as pledging to meet ambitious Net-Zero carbon emission reduction targets by the year 2050. Despite this growing consensus, how we collectively go about instigating the vital societal, economic, and technological transformations needed to move beyond the current Anthropocene remains a contentious issue. Resultantly, the dialogues that surround sustainability – both broadly and within the field of design – can often deviate into two opposing silos: one which frames ‘the future’ as a sustainable utopia and the other an unsustainable dystopia. Given their long-standing power and influence in shaping the modern world, technologies sit at the heart of this dichotomy.

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This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge/CRC Press in Flourish by Design on 25/09/2923, available online:
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14 Mar 2023 09:30
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12 Dec 2023 09:05