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Co-learning for sustainable design: The case of a circular design collaborative project in Ireland

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

Article number123474
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>10/01/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Cleaner Production
Number of pages11
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date1/09/20
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Incorporating concerns of sustainability and circularity into design practice is undoubtedly important for both design research and education. There is a need to equip novice designers with the skills to facilitate a sustainability-focused future, whilst also collaborating with industry to implement these concerns into contemporary design practices. On the one hand, SMMEs and small teams in other sectors (i.e. public) lack the resources and time to improve their knowledge, to explore alternative ways of conducting business and to transform their design practices. Contrarily, novice designers (i.e. design students) can access state-of-the-art knowledge on sustainability and experiment with sustainable design practices throughout their education, yet they lack insights into market realities around implementation. Similarly, design researchers and educators are on the fore-front of developing sustainability-focused design methodology through research, but they often lack exposure to the industry. If the parties were all to work together, however, the sharing of resources, knowledge and experiences become valuable commodities in creating more sustainable design practices. This paper outlines an on-campus Design for Circular Economy and Sustainability training programme where industry worked with interns and academics to address real-world challenges. The project forms a part of a larger EU collaboration. The programme aimed to create a co-learning environment for novice designers, industry partners and design researcher/educators. Here all stakeholders could exchange their knowledge and insights and learn from each other to explore and experiment with practically implementing sustainability in real-world contexts. This paper briefly introduces the development of the programme and explores how and what co-learning occurred for the different stakeholders. Finally, the paper discusses how the outcomes of this programme subsequently affected the practices of industry partners. The programme offered a unique environment to prepare novice designers for the real world and provided researcher/educators with valuable insights on how to facilitate such a transition. The industry partners utilised this experience and outcomes to review their practices and kick-start the transition towards sustainable businesses.