Industrial design and engineering transition to radical innovation for sustainability in tertiary education : concept design strategies based on a New Zealand study : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Product Development at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand
A UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UNDESD) is currently in progress from 2005 – 2014.The importance of Sustainable Development (SD) and Sustainable Product Design (SPD) has been recognized by the professional bodies for industrial design and engineering, and promoted within tertiary education. A consensus gained from a literature review revealed that radical innovation is now necessary to achieve Factor 4 (i.e. reducing resource use to a quarter of the total), or Factors 10-20 (reducing resource use to a 10th – 20th of levels in the present production/consumption model) in upholding global environmental and social integrity. Design and engineering are seen as “core catalysts of change” towards radical innovation for sustainability, and therefore essential that industrial designers and engineers be appropriately educated. The motivation and main aim of this research was therefore to develop an educational framework for mainstream industrial design and engineering in SD/SPD at tertiary level. This should be based on the key concepts of SD/SPD towards radical innovation, successful international examples of industrial design and engineering curricula, as well as any pertinent information derived locally from the New Zealand design and engineering scenario. The latter was derived via a survey of industrial/product design, mechanical/mechatronics engineering students in their final year of undergraduate study in New Zealand.
These research strands were synthesized and further refined, using a 4-year undergraduate degree structure (combined years 1-2 for a 3-year design degree programme). The Conceptual Educational Framework and Guidelines are intended as an aid and underlying structure towards embedding radical innovation for sustainability in Industrial Design and Engineering curricula. Together, they provide a draft, a roadmap of essential and important concepts, to combine with discipline-specific core content of Industrial Design and Engineering undergraduate degrees
The NZ survey results proved similar to international studies: an overall discrepancy between the high ratings of the importance of sustainability and low values in actual knowledge, with definitions of ecodesign (eco-efficiency through reduction and/or minimization of harmful environmental impacts), rather than eco-effective, beneficial sustainable design (comprising environmental, economic and social considerations). The key recommendations are documented within four concepts: 1. Emphasis on the Social Element of SD/SPD, 2. Transition towards Systems Thinking via PSS (Product-Service Systems), 3. Complementary Sustainable Design Strategies and 4. Transition towards Strategic Design. These concepts advocate emphasis on the social element of SD/SPD through context and creativity; systems thinking via PSS; eco-effectiveness and Cradle-to-Cradle design principles (C2C), followed by eco-efficiency for optimization; and all governed by strategic design. The design intent of the Conceptual Educational Framework and Guidelines is to maximize beneficial, eco-effective systems, sustainable behaviour, equity, quality of life, and connecting design, technology and human behaviour.