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The Design Ecologies of Grassroot Communities

PhD project Grassroot communities are frequently considered as successful experimental forms of struggle and resistance to achieve social and environmental justice, addressing various socio-political and ecological challenges.

Design and making support structures that assist to life-affirming transitions with more than human-centred speeds, economies, and technologies. This research project suggests a practice-based design research assessment of such propositions.

Head of project

Project overview

Project period:

Start date: 2023-09-01

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Umeå Institute of Design

Research area


Project description

By intersecting art and science, with design and making - together with the social and environmentalist efforts of grassroot communities – I will pose the following question as part of departure:

Can grassroots ecologies contribute to more comprehensive intersectional and relational life-affirming ways of designing and making things, and what are the obstacles and opportunities with this?

The aim of this question is to pursue hands on artistic and experiential ways of making design research, looking to discover effective and affective counter-narratives that have been resisting the domination of racial, colonial, and paternalistic frameworks, especially narratives emerging by evolving ideas and practices of grassroot communities.  More specifically, community-based initiatives generating novel grassroot bottom-up solutions to local problems with significant success. That is, community practices demonstrating a capacity to plan, develop, implement, and maintain effective public programs to innovate solutions for sustainability transitions.  

The goal with this thesis is to provide design disciplines, stakeholders, policymakers, and planners with design strategies to address social and environmental challenges from a view beyond todays power-structures and master-narratives causing social and environmental injustice. Instead, searching for bright spots in more than human-centered narratives, and in the design-work of making support structures. Designed structures that may assist in the survival of ecosystems through appropriate time factors for long-term eco-centric economies and future co-inhabitancy of mutual interdependence with biodiversity.

Latest update: 2023-09-18