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

Scott Boylston



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20 May 2019
Environmentally-friendly architecture & design; Architecture: professional practice
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.
By:   Scott Boylston
Imprint:   Routledge
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 229mm,  Width: 152mm, 
Weight:   562g
ISBN:   9781138554320
ISBN 10:   1138554324
Pages:   240
Publication Date:   20 May 2019
Audience:   College/higher education ,  Further / Higher Education ,  A / AS level
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

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.

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

This book is an impressive account of design's relation to capability theory. I recommend it to anyone interested in how design can inform strategies of social innovation. - VICTOR MARGOLIN, Author of World History of Design Professor Emeritus of Design History, University of Illinois Chicago Scott Boylston imagines something very exciting: the insights and creativity of designers unleashed not in the service of consumerism but instead of a working planet. Given the crisis we are now enduring, we have an unprecedented opportunity to design something new, if we work together. This book gives some clues about how to do just that. - BILL MCKIBBEN, Founder, 350.org, and author of Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? There are several good reasons to read (and to study) this book. And one of them, in my view, makes it unique: it's the first book that really helps designers understand the meaning and the design implications of the capabilities approach: That is, to recognize that their role is not to offer pre-defined solutions, but to enlarge people's freedom to be what they want to be and act as they prefer. And, at the same time, to offer them motivations and concrete possibilities to choose to do it in a sustainable way. - EZIO MANZINI Author, Design When Everybody Designs, and founder, DESIS Network Scott Boylston provides a thoughtful and necessary path for designers to contribute to social innovation. This is an important book for those seeking to design ways to change the world for the better and create a more sustainable future. - DEIRDRE WHITE CEO, PYXERA Global Written in an articulate and accessible prose not often found in academic books, Scott Boylston offers his reader a very compelling analysis of how social innovation and design for sustainability can work together as change agents shifting existing paradigms of everyday life, to empower and transform our thinking about design's purpose and future potential. A must read for designers, design management and design students. - ELIZABETH RESNICK Professor Emerita, Communication Design, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and Author, The Social Design Reader The next generation of design practitioners are now asking the question of how we can develop new capabilities and mindsets to tackle complex social challenges. In Designing with Society, Scott Boylston provides us with a comprehensive guide to a new systemic and holistic design ethos which integrates the frameworks and approaches of the leading thinkers in this new field with his own extensive experience in innovation and environmental design. - SIMON ROBINSON Co-author, Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet Matter It is a profound truth to say that humanity is on the verge of self-destruction because we lack the design capabilities for entire cultural systems. This book comes as a spiritual cry to the design schools of the world that we must pull back the facades of grandeur and look ourselves in the eye, see ourselves with warts and all, and do the internal work to bring the best science and design ethics together for the transformation of every domain of human existence. - JOE BREWER Founder + Executive Director, Center for Applied Cultural Evolution Scott Boylston's Designing with Society offers a deeply integrated and deeply felt revisioning of the powerful ideas, practices and underling theories driving social innovation at its best today. The book is highly readable and detailed with the author's concepts of relevant systems thinking models and social change processes. As a living systems approach to social change, the book encourages the reader to expand their viewpoint as to what's possible. Designing with Society gives sage guidance that connects the best wisdom of design knowledge with profound approaches to social change. - Peter Jones Director of Research, sLab, OCAD Co-founder, Systemic Design Research Network

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