The world has seen increased consumerism and wasteful practices that have contributed to a monumental municipal solid waste problem. In spite of international consensus for sustainable development, academic programs have not yet fully integrated sustainability into design. Through reflexive investigation and critique of culture, this autoethnography explores: (1) How the interest in sustainability and environmental practices came to exist within my personal sphere of knowledge and among Kuwaiti officials; (2) how the values related to environmental responsibility can be instilled through education and transformed on a cultural level to create motivation for action; (3) how theories of sustainability are synthesized into practical application in an educational setting in the U.S.; and (4) how former alumni and I perceive the practicality and applicability of the program as it translates to our localized contexts. The purpose of this dissertation is to explore best pedagogical practices of sustainability in order to establish key components for integrating sustainability into academic design programs, particularly as they relate to the waste problem in Kuwait. This research provides a synthesis of viewpoints from the perspectives of both local consumers in Kuwait and graduates from a design for sustainability program in the United States. Six themes emerge, including values transmission and development, behavior change versus conformity, facilitating behavior change, collectivism and motivation for action, the viability of systems, and the spread of new ideas. This research utilizes nine behavioral change theories and models: Social learning theory, the two-stage model of value transmission and development, situational awareness theory, the transtheoretical model, rational choice theory, collectivism theory, systems theory, the viable systems model, and diffusion of innovation theory. This research has uncovered several critical considerations to include within a design for sustainability curriculum and pedagogy. These components encompass student’s awareness of environmental issues, values development, knowledge of sustainability theories, case studies, practical tools, human-centered research methodologies, interdisciplinary collaboration, community-based projects, and innovation. There is a consensus among the research participants in creating an educational environment that encourages a sustainability mentality, the development of personal attributes, values, civic responsibility, leadership capabilities, and team management skills.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. 2017. Major: Education, Curriculum and Instruction. Advisor: James Bequette. 1 computer file (PDF); 186 pages.
Design for a sustainable future: An autoethnographic examination of practical applications of sustainability for design education.
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