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Designing with Society: A Capabilities Approach to Design, Systems Thinking and Social Innovation

Designing with Society: A Capabilities Approach to Design, Systems Thinking and Social Innovation

by Scott Boylston

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This book explores an emerging design culture that rigorously applies systems thinking to the practice of design as a form of facilitating change on an increasingly crowded planet. Designers conversant in topics such as living systems, cultural competence, social justice, and power asymmetries can contribute their creative skills to the world of social innovation to help address the complex social challenges of the 21st century.


By establishing a foundation built on the capabilities approach to human development, designers have an opportunity to transcend previous disciplinary constraints, and redefine our understanding of design agency. With an emphasis on developing an adaptability to dynamic situations, the cultivation of diversity, and an insistence on human dignity, this book weaves together theories and practices from diverse fields of thought and action to provide designers with a concrete yet flexible set of actionable design principles. And, with the aim of equipping designers with the ability to drive long-term, sustainable change, it proposes a new set of design competences that emphasize a deeper mindfulness of our interdependence; with each other, and with our life-giving natural systems. It’s a call to action to use design and design thinking as a tool to transform our collective worldviews toward an appreciation for what we all hold in common; a hope and a belief that our future is a place where all of humankind will flourish.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781351372060
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Publication date: 05/28/2019
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 240
File size: 23 MB
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About the Author

SCOTT BOYLSTON is professor and graduate coordinator of the Design for Sustainability program at SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design), author of four books, and founder of Emergent Structures.

Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION SECTION ONE: Interdependence, and Why Social Innovation Matters 1: Understanding the Interconnectedness of our Challenge 2. Society’s Interdependence with Ecological Vitality 3. Appreciating Social Systems through a Living Systems Lens 4. An Emerging Era of Social Innovation 5. Seeking a Moore’s Law for Social Innovation SECTION TWO: Designing with Mindfulness, Balance, and a Commitment to Justice 6: Rejecting the Short for the Long 7: Rejecting the Shallow for the Deep 8: The Power of Capabilities 9: The Challenge of Power Asymmetry SECTION THREE: An Emerging Design Agency in Social Innovation 10: Pathways for Design in Social Innovation 11. Seeing More of What’s There 12: Dispositions and Opportunites for Diffusion 13: Design and Managing Change 14: Design and the Unfolding Movement 15: A Fifth Stage of Competence APPENDIX INDEX NOTES

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