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Staff photo Cindy Kohtala

Cindy Kohtala

Professor in Design for Sustainability. Research interest in grassroots participatory processes that explore sustainability and localizing design and technology. Design and STS.



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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.

Local Environment: the International Journal of Justice and Sustainability
Hector, Philip; Kohtala, Cindy
Strategic Design Research Journal, University of Vale do Rio dos Sinos - Unisinos 2021, Vol. 14, (1) : 1-18
Rossi, Emilio; Di Nicolantonio, Massimo; Ceschin, Fabrizio; et al.
Science & Technology Studies, Finnish Society for Science and Technology Studies 2020, Vol. 33, (2) : 102-119
Berglund, Eeva; Kohtala, Cindy
International Journal of Design, Vol. 14, (2) : 17-34
Botero, Andrea; Hyysalo, Sampsa; Kohtala, Cindy; et al.
Design Studies, Elsevier 2020, Vol. 67 : 27-54
Kohtala, Cindy; Hyysalo, Sampsa; Whalen, Jack
Strategic Design Research Journal, University of Vale do Rio dos Sinos - Unisinos 2020, Vol. 13, (3) : 294-311
Rossi, Emilio; Di Nicolantonio, Massimo; Ceschin, Fabrizio; et al.
Human-Computer Interaction, Vol. 34, (5-6) : 389-432
Bakırlıoğlu, Yekta; Kohtala, Cindy
Journal of Peer Production, Vol. 12 : 92-110
Kohtala, Cindy
The Design Journal, Routledge 2016, Vol. 20, (3) : 375-394
Kohtala, Cindy
Journal of Cleaner Production, Elsevier 2015, Vol. 106 : 654-668
Kohtala, Cindy
Journal of Cleaner Production, Elsevier 2015, Vol. 99 : 333-344
Kohtala, Cindy; Hyysalo, Sampsa
Journal of Cleaner Production, Elsevier 2015, Vol. 97 : 1-12
Vezzoli, Carlo; Ceschin, Fabrizio; Diehl, Jan Carel; et al.
CoDesign - International Journal of CoCreation in Design and the Arts, Taylor & Francis Group 2014, Vol. 10, (3-4) : 209-228
Hyysalo, Sampsa; Kohtala, Cindy; Helminen, Pia; et al.
Journal of Peer Production, Vol. 5
Kohtala, Cindy; Bosqué, Camille
Sheffield: Greenleaf Publishing Ltd 2014
Vezzoli, Carlo; Kohtala, Cindy; Srinivasan, Amrit; et al.

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).

LeNSin project 2015-2019 (Learning Network on Sustainability International, Erasmus+): Work Package leader, co-editor of Designing Sustainability for All (open access).
LeNS project 2008-2010 (AsiaLink): Task leader, co-author of Product-Service System Design for Sustainability.
EMUDE (Emerging User Demands for Sustainable Solutions, 2004-06): responsible teacher in University of Art and Design Helsinki (UIAH), contributed to Creative Communities.