Document Type

Conference Paper


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence




The aim of a sustainable product solution is to fulfil a user need while creating a net positive sustainable impact - environmentally, socially and economically [1]. The concept of sustainability can be complex for a product design student to come to terms with, since the creation of new physical products consumes the Earth’s scarce natural resources [2]. So, should we ideally have no new products in the future? More likely, we should hope to have more sustainably aware product designers, working for companies that need to - due to regulations or consumer preferences - produce and provide more sustainable product solutions. Technological University Dublin’s BSc Product Design uses two project-based-learning classes as part of one module to guide students through the concepts of sustainability. One project focuses on design for behaviour change [3] in the developed world. Students identify a current behaviour that has a negative environmental impact and work to develop a design intervention that facilitates and encourages a “better” behaviour. A second project focuses on design for an underprivileged or marginalised population. Students engage with Engineers Without Borders and design products aiming to solve a problem for a poorly served community in a certain context. Students complete the module by reflecting on their understanding of sustainability and how it relates to their own identity as a designer. This paper shares the outcomes of the process and provides a pedagogical approach for helping students to delve deeper into the complex and contentious area where product design and sustainability intersect.

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