Making resilience through design doing

Fountain, Wendy; Carleklev, Stephanie and Hruza, Stephan (2019). Making resilience through design doing. In: Cumulus Conference Proceedings Rovaniemi 2019 (Häkkilä, Jonna; Pakanen, Minna; Luiro, Elina; Mikkonen, Enni and Satu, Miettinen eds.), Aalto: Cumulus International Association of Universities and Colleges of Art, Design and Media pp. 83–91.


We propose ‘resilience making’ in this paper as urgent, creative and adaptive action through an account of its exploration with students in the first year of an international BFA in design. We focus on the learning design being carried out for the fourth iteration of the module ‘Resilience’ - the last of eight modules completed by students in an introductory year structured around design tools and processes.

Our core proposition is that context-rich, place-based making is a means to connect students within social-ecological systems as continua, rather than positioning them as separate from the abstract concepts and systems theory we typically expect them to comprehend. Arising from this learning design process, we highlight insights around sustainability epistemologies, meaning-making in place, and our valuing of contextual and traditional knowledge.

As design practitioner-teachers, we outline our working position in relation tosustainability and resilience education, and our aims of integrating design knowing, seeing and doing. We then detail how the module will unfold with students during May 2019 - a month characterised by:

• place-specific making days progressing in focus from personal, to community, to large-scale system resilience
• structured reflection by students on their first year learning and place-based making; and
• a culminating, ‘co-citizen’ lab week in which students are challenged to carry out adaptive action by linking their own system and timescales in the context of their diverse learning community.

We close by questioning how we might advance ‘resilience making’ as design-led adaptive action, and strengthen our own resilience as practitioners and teachers of design in a time of crisis.

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