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Sustainable Design MA: Student projects

Student project work

Find out more about the sorts of things our students get involved in, and some of their achievements whilst on the course.

2015/16: Climate Customs - Do you have anything to declare?

Climate CustomsStudents from the Sustainable Design MA designed and delivered 'Climate Customs' – an open pop-up studio in Oxo Tower Wharf during London's Inside Out Festival. Conceived and developed in association with the Helen Storey Foundation, the studio aimed to test ways of capturing public responses to climate change and sustainability.

Tasked with developing methods of public engagement, the MA students devised a Kafka-esque journey of participation to highlight the global implications of climate change – how it is likely to affect each and every one of us, albeit in different ways and at different rates in different parts of the world.

The engagement activities trialled at the open studio fed into Helen Storey's wider project to raise awareness of climate change issues. A follow-up activity saw the students assisting Helen Storey herself in public engagement with her Dress for Our Time at St Pancras international station.

2014/15: Kingston Health and Arts codesign workshop

Kingston Health and Arts codesign workshopSustainable Design MA students were invited to design and deliver a workshop which brought together representatives of nine Kingston-based service providers from the arts and social care sectors.

The goal of this workshop was to map out current activities and assets, and identify opportunities for collaboration to strengthen the role of the arts in health and social care in the borough.  

The current challenge for Kingston health and social care was introduced by councillor Julie Pickering, the local authority cabinet member for Adult Social Care, Public Health and the Voluntary Sector.

The outcomes of the workshop, represented by the worksheets generated by the participants, provide rich material for the next phase of the project – the codesign of outcomes which creatively respond to the opportunities identified. This will require further workshops focused on ideation and concept development, to generate outcomes that can then be prototyped, trialled, and implemented in practice.

Sustainable Design MA codesign workshop presentationRobert O'Dowd, chief executive of Rose Theatre Kingston, which hosted the workshop, says: "Codesign is a methodology that enables individuals and groups to be empowered and engaged in creating new and innovative outcomes.

It is an approach championed by the Design Council and leading design agencies such as Participle, IDEO, Livework and thinkpublic. Codesign in this case enabled workshop participants to share ideas and look at what they do in a different way."

Dr Paul Micklethwaite, MA Sustainable Design course director, worked with three students - Ahsan Khan, Emma Welton and Rebeca Torres Castanedo – to devise and deliver a workshop format which used the spirit of codesign to create the basis for further productive collaboration.

Paul says: "This project is a great example of how we work on the course – we use participatory design-based methods to identify opportunities for well-researched creative response, and particularly enjoy taking design thinking and methods into new areas such as social care and wellbeing."

2012/13 Uscreates

In November and December 2012, four full-time students interned at social design agency Uscreates on a project around encouraging people to travel by train instead of flying.

Two full-time students presented their course project work on designing sustainable volunteering models (how to keep volunteers volunteering beyond the end of a project) in an 'open mic' session at Uscreates.

2011/12 Uscreates

Joanna Choukeir was invited to host a series of double diamond design process workshops around a Uscreates live project. The aim of the workshops was to support students in using practice-led design thinking, methods and processes for social and environmental development.

2010/11 Uscreates, National Trust at Morden Hall Park and with Age Concern, Kingston

View a selection of student project work (PDF) by Carlos Fierro, Jaidee Kim, Melissa Lacide, Paula Ligo and Fan Sissoko.

2009/10 London Design Festival and The Sorrell Foundation

The Design for Development MA course show was staged as part of Tent London, a ground-breaking show for forward-thinking design across all disciplines, within the annual two-week London Design Festival. Tent drew 19,000 visitors from 44 different countries.

The Sorrell Foundation invited the 2009/10 cohort to participate in their national Building Schools for the Future programme. Students organised participatory design workshops, design agency visits and short practical design projects. Sessions hosted by the University were designed to give participating pupils and young people an insight into university life. Students also acted as mentors to the children, exploring ideas around improving the environmental performance of their schools through architecture, procurement and behavioural change.

The Design for Development MA students also assisted with initial structural design ideas for The Design Museum's Sustainable Futures exhibition, 31 March to 5 September 2010. The students hosted an ecodesign principles workshop for the curatorial team, and the then course director Anne Chick was on the selection panel for exhibition content.

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