Summer School | Design and Transitions: Emerging Theories and Practices at the Intersection

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Sunday 9 Jul 2023, 17:00 - Friday 14 Jul 2023, 20:00
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This summer school provides a space for critical and creative interdisciplinary dialogue between the disciplines of design (research) and transitions (research). It facilitates the co-creation of theoretical knowledge that transcends their disciplinary boundaries. 

Although typically operating in isolation, the fields of Design and Transitions (including their scientific foundations and frameworks, their norms, and their methods) are increasingly seen as complementary in the pursuit of achieving sustainable, just and resilient futures. As a result, increasing scholarly attention is being paid to how the fields relate to one another, leading to new configurations and integrations of each. Transformative change is already happening, and policy, business and communities are engaging with it in different ways to address the challenges of sustainability. However, if we want to attend to the increasing urgency of radical transitions, we need another strategy - one that is transformative and imaginative and brings into practice the idea that we can design towards transitions. 

During this summer school, we will discover this emerging field together, while learning about theories and practices that are arising and/or relevant at the intersection. Additionally, you will learn about the theories and practices that are typical in these disciplines and together explore effective ways of co-creating knowledge in research and practice contexts of sustainability transitions. We will address topics such as power and justice, imagination, experientiality of futures, more-than-humans and much more in a program that combines theoretical and experiential learning activities.

Organised by Design Impact Transition (DIT) Platform in collaboration with NODUS Sustainable Design Research Group, Aalto University (Finland).

Practical information

Dates & location

09 - 14 july 2023, Rotterdam (Erasmus University of Rotterdam)

We ask participants to arrive on the 9th of July for an introductory dinner

Interesting forGraduate students / PhD students / Postdoctoral researchers with a background in or affiliation with design (research) and/or sustainability transitions 
Fee€300 (incl. lunches, refreshments, dinners, transportation, excursions, and materials for the whole week)
CreditsUpon successful completion of the Summer School, participants will receive a Certificate of Participation indicating the workload and corresponding 2ECTS. Students can request recognition of these ECTS from their home institutions, therefore the final decision on awarding credits lies with their home institutions.
Application deadline1st of May 2023
Course leadersFemke Coops MSc, Assoc. Prof. İdil Gaziulusoy & Prof.dr. Derk Loorbach


The summer school invites applications from graduate students, PhD students and postdoctoral researchers with a background in or affiliation with design (research) and/or sustainability transitions. As a prerequisite for participation, participants need to be pursuing research related to the summer school’s core themes and questions. Additionally, participants are expected to have sufficient proficiency in English to be able to actively participate in the summer school.

Course information

Participants of the summer school will engage in a rigorous, creative, and collaborative learning experience. This will be done through three main activities:

  1. theoretical discussions between the two disciplines with experts leading the field, where you will engage with keynote speakers in participatory theory building
  2. hands-on activities, where we will focus on practice and explore emerging design and transition contexts in the city of Rotterdam
  3. reflection, where you will get the space to reflect on what you have learned and how this relates to your own practice through various embodied reflection exercises. 

All these activities will be related to emerging theories and practices of design and transitions, e.g., justice and power, multi-species/more-than-human, futuring, imagination and experientiality. 

Learning outcomes

After this course you will be able to:

  • Discuss the key similarities, differences and potential synergies of design research and sustainability transitions with particular references to the theoretical frameworks and methods deployed in each field.
  • Critically analyse emerging syntheses and integrations of the two fields.
  • Conceptualise new theoretical and methodological insights that can inform the emerging intersections between design research and sustainability transitions.
  • Develop and apply skills for co-creation of knowledge across disciplines and with stakeholders in transdisciplinary contexts of sustainability transitions projects.
  • Reflect on your own role within a multidisciplinary group and relevant professional contexts.

Programme Outline 


Sunday: getting to know each other 

Late afternoon activity and dinner 


Monday: Setting the scene 

Introduction into the summer school topic  

with lectures and workshops from: İdil Gaziulusoy, Derk Loorbach, Mikko Jalas, Sampsa Hyysalo and Sanne Koevoets


Tuesday: Power & Justice 


Different perspectives on power and justice in societal transitions, including a more-than-human lens 

with lectures and workshops from Katinka Wijsman, Andrea Botera Cabrera and Felix Bell 


Wednesday: Imagining the future 


Different approaches to imagine radically different futures 

with lectures and workshops from Dan Lockton and Julieta Matos Castaño 


Thursday: Research(ers) at the intersection 


Skills, attitudes, and knowledge at the intersection 

with lectures and workshops from Julia Wittmayer, Mieke van der Bijl-Brouwer and Petra Ardai 


Friday: Integrations 


Bringing together and sharing reflections 

with İdil Gaziulusoy and Derk Loorbach 



Application procedure

To apply, please fill out the online application form. You will be asked to upload the following documents:

  • Curriculum Vitae (max. 1 page)
  • Motivation letter (max. 500 words), addressing the following questions:
    • How does your research relate to the topic of the summer school?
    • What do you expect to take away from the summer school?
    • How do you envision to contribute into the interdisciplinary and collaborative learning space of the summer school?

The deadline for application is 1st of May 2023. Selected participants will be informed as soon as possible, but latest on 15 May 2023. 

Any questions?

Portrait of Femke Coops

Femke Coops

Course Leader

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