Cumulus International Association of Universities and Colleges of Art, Design and Media

Design Education for Sustainability

17 June 2011

Sustainability Working Group

The International Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) and Al Gore have recently been awarded a joint Nobel Prize for their work in assessing global warming and publicizing it. Despite their efforts the most recent news is more serious than expected since the "...increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide has accelerated since 2000 in a way we did not expect." The IPCC now estimates that "...there were only eight years left to prevent the worst effects of global warming."

Design can play a vital role in the development of a more sustainable future. It is estimated that 80% of a product's environmental and economic costs are determined before production begins, (i.e. during the design process). Therefore, this means that designers must recognise the global implications of their activities and more especially design educators their responsibilities.

With this knowledge in mind, we must ask: Why is it, that sustainability still appears to be on the periphery of the design curriculum, sometimes even treated as an optional subject?

Clearly, design education must play its role in adapting design to become ecologically compatible and contribute to developing a sustainable culture. New knowledge must now be integrated throughout design education in order for us to adapt.

The objectives of this working group will be to:

1. identify appropriate knowledge (about human behaviour and attitude change, the environment, resources and sustainable design practice)

2. exchange strategies, practice and experiences for teaching design for sustainability.

3. propose and collect new practices for design education

...with the overall aim of establishing sustainability as a core component of the design curriculum alongside form and function, aesthetics and ergonomics, etc.

Therefore we are launching a call for participation in a new working group within the Cumulus Organisation dedicated to this theme.


Prof. Peter Stebbing

Hochschule für Gestaltung Schwäbisch Gmünd

Tel : +49 7171 602 635

Fax : +49 7171 602 672

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Hochschule für Gestaltung

Rektor-Klaus-Strasse 100

Prof. Ursula Tischner 

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