Dr Cindy Kohtala is Professor in Design for Sustainability at the Umeå Institute of Design. Her research bridges Design Research and Science & Technology Studies (STS). She is interested in how active citizens experiment with sustainability hands-on and materially, whether through hacking and making in fab labs and makerspaces, citizen science, urban activist projects, or other grassroots initiatives aimed at local knowledge sharing and empowerment. She studies industrial transition at the local scale: the stories we create about localizing design, technology and production and the emerging practices around peer-to-peer participation. She examines how activists build infrastructures for alternative ways to produce and consume and how they involve wider publics in imagining and enacting alternative sustainability futures. In UmArts she explores ways researchers and activists can collaborate on knowledge-making in sustainability transformation using design-led methods.
Dr Kohtala has taught design and research courses at Bachelor's, Master's and PhD levels. She lectures and writes about design-for-sustainability, Product-Service System (PSS) design, open design, co-design, distributed economies, maker culture and design activism, for academic, practitioner and general public audiences. She is an active member of the international LeNS (Learning Network for Sustainability) network and the design-for-sustainability network o2 Global. Kohtala was actively involved in Aalto University's Creative Sustainability Master's Programme (Department of Design, Finland) as teacher, thesis advisor, thesis evaluator and committee member (intake committee, Master's thesis committee). She has been a guest teacher in Design-for-Sustainability courses in Mexico, China and India (Bachelor's and Master's).