Sustainability Practicum reflection #2

We have progressed in this course from discussing sustainability in broad conceptual terms to working on specific planning skills, such as systems mapping, human-centered design, and scenario planning. Reflect – using at least one specific example from the readings, your experience, or general knowledge – on your views of how such planning skills can contribute – or not – to developing practical strategies to promote sustainability.

Provide your answer as a comment to this post. Remember – your comments are public.

15 Comments

  1. Kate Eiseman says:

    As a School, we’ve challenged human-centered definitions of sustainability. I believe, however, that even those solutions whose primary interest is the needs of the human population can be sustainable (and unsustainable too). I was struck by the ‘Warm Embrace,’ a project out of Stanford’s d. School that sought to combat infant mortality because of premature births in the developing world. Quite literally, the strategy seeks to improve resiliency — to provide the warmth necessary for the newborn’s systems to function on their own. The devised solution promotes resiliency, equitable access, the intrinsic value of life, and our future and its strategies were arrived at through an involved process of human-centered design. Because of a culture of home birth and the logistics of transportation, incubators in the developing world were left unused while four million premature babies die every year. The team from Stanford recognized that they needed a portable solution that could be implemented within remote villages without the assistance of an outside practitioner. In my mind, the most striking development occurred within the third phase of the human-centered design trajectory. (HCD does not only stand for human-centered design, but also hear, create, develop.) As a part of the development of their solution, the students distributed a prototype of their product to their potential users and observed the relationship between user and product, ultimately evaluating the effectiveness of their proposed solution. The prototype had used numbers to communicate infant temperature and, because there was a dominating belief that the West over-diagnoses and over-treats, users were using devices but not to the temperature mark recommended by the designers. By adjusting the mechanism to communicate using a danger to okay spectrum, the tool was used as was intended by the designers and more infants were able to survive premature births. We are reminded of the importance of connection, even collaboration, with users and the consequent possibilities of sustaining our youth. (The future!)

    1. Marjeela Basij-Rasikh says:

      Kate, you mentioned that “I believe, however, that even those solutions whose primary interest is the needs of the human population can be sustainable (and unsustainable too)”.

      Very interesting point. I was wondering if you can elaborate a little bit more, and or give an example, to show how such practices/strategies that involves human population can be “unsustainable”?

  2. Finky says:

    In the 2013 piece Flourishing, chemical engineer and professor John Ehrenfeld suggests that our current “Cartesian model of cognition” is inadequate to fully understand, express, or improve upon the complex modern world (Ehrenfeld 102). In order to achieve a society founded on the principle of “flourishing” (Ehrenfeld’s particular interpretation of the ambiguous term “sustainable”) he suggests that we must develop a system-based approach. The scientific method, he claims, while powerful, is ultimately a “reductionist set of rules,” and in order to move towards “flourishing,” it is important to move beyond these distinct, isolated components: that is, rather than considering “just how each part works,” it is necessary to “understand…how they work together” (Ehrenfeld 101; 107). Ehrenfeld’s vision for a sustainable future is more idealistic than pragmatic; he offers few concrete examples of what such a world would look like, emphasizing that the way of living, the intentionality behind a given action, is much more important to the concept of flourishing than is an action itself. However, Ehrenfeld’s ideas can serve as the inspiration for practical strategies seeking both to – to use Ehrenfeld’s language – “reduc[e] unsustainability” within the existing structure, while simultaneously building towards a future characterized by flourishing (Ehrenfeld 54).
    Systems mapping is one such strategy. This tool enables a greater appreciation for and understanding of a process, place, or concept as a whole, rather than as a series of distinct elements, by seeking to identify relationships between these elements. In mapping a system, “stocks” – or components of a system that are in some way quantifiable – are linked to other stocks via “flows” – or the direct effect of one stock upon another. Identifying stocks and flows within a system of interest requires the adoption of a holistic view of the system, and reveals interactions that may frequently be ignored. Systems mapping allows for the development of a visual representation of what is often an abstract and complex system, with the result that potential sites for effective intervention to improve the system can be more easily recognized and targeted.
    Engaging in the mapping of several of the “coupled human and natural systems” presented by Liu et al reveals the power of this methodology in effecting positive change within a system, thereby practically working towards a more-sustainable future. For example, the authors present a relatively-simple system in which pandas are reliant on a specific bamboo forest for food, and local inhabitants depend on the same forest to supply fuel needs for cooking and heating (Liu et al 2007). Systems mapping is an essential tool for understanding the relationships between the three stocks in this context (the pandas, the locals, and the bamboo forest) and can be used to suggest potential points of intervention. Thus, a decline in panda population – which might otherwise be addressed through programs of direct species protection – can, with the use of systems mapping, be seen as directly tied to decreases in bamboo concentration. Using this approach, the panda decline can be mitigated through forest management programs, which, additionally, has positive effects on the local residents, who are also tied to this system.
    In a broader context, systems mapping is a pragmatic tool that can be employed to, as Ehrenfeld describes, “complement” the realm of traditional science by developing a stronger systems-based view of the world (Ehrenfeld 104). As Steve Trombulak has repeatedly reiterated, the first step to changing or improving a system is understanding it; the systems mapping strategy is one essential component in this process of understanding. Only after the system is understood can shortcomings be fully appreciated, and can sites (either stocks or flows) be identified for improvement in order to create a more sustainable whole system. By methodically delineating the essential components of a system, and logically working through the ways in which they are connected, systems mapping can be a particularly appealing means for the more scientifically-minded to pragmatically work towards Ehrenfeld’s lofty, nebulous vision of flourishing.

  3. Dylan McGarthwaite says:

    As Kate has pointed out, we have explored the Human Centered Design (HCD) framework as a skill for planning. The readings in collaboration with several of our workshops have allowed us to practice and implement this process. The Human Centered Design toolkit is a process that offers techniques to simulate creative thinking to solve a variety of the world’s problems. The framework has three phases: hear, create, and deliver. I believe the Human Centered Design toolkit is effective in promoting sustainability because it provides a systematic progression that shifts an individual’s ideas to be concrete, then abstract, and later back to concrete, which allows for brainstorming, developing, and assessing of custom-built solutions.
    In one of our textbooks, Creative Confidence, Tom Kelley and David Kelley have provided several real-life examples in which the Human Centered Design process has experienced monumental success. They begin the opening chapter by introducing Doug Dietz, a friendly Midwesterner (shout out to back home!), a twenty-four year veteran of General Electric and founder of the MRI. Upon finishing a two and a half year MRI project, he got the chance to witness the machine in action. At that point many would think that Doug should be congratulated on a job well done. He had just created an MRI scanner that had been recently submitted for an International Design Excellence Award. However, just before the patient was about to lumber into this mechanical monster, Doug observed as the feeble girl had a tear-wrenching moment with her parents. The patient’s fear struck Doug and he knew there was more work to be done. He completed a HCD workshop, which evoked his creativity and got his gears turning. The first step was to hear and Doug began to build empathy for his young patients. He had to grasp what they have to endure through an MRI machine. The next step was to create and come up with a prototype that he called the “Adventure Series” MRI. The new design was decorated with colorful decals and logos that turned the MRI into an exhilarating adventure. After experiencing such success in the first two phases, the delivery was a breeze for Doug. This is just one of the many examples in which the HCD framework can be effective in sparking creativity and finding new solutions to problems.

  4. Dana says:

    The skills we are learning will help us directly with developing strategies to promote sustainability. These skills help to change the perspective of the problem. When tackling a large problem it is easy to feel overwhelmed or even stuck. The tools we are learning in SoE help to break down problems into smaller pieces and learn how to creatively approach and brain storm solutions.
    Systems mapping for example, breaks down the problem into smaller pieces while visually showing which pieces affect each other. This helps to identify the root of the problem, and the chain reaction of events that cause the problem to escalade. Without mapping a system, I think a common mistake is that people tend to focus on solution oriented planning, rather than problem oriented. In this situation there is a likelihood of missing the essence of the problem entirely and coming up with band-aid solutions. These are quick fix solutions because they zoom in on one aspect of the system. Most problems are extremely complex and the entire system needs to be reworked in order to solve them in the long term sense.
    When looking long term, scenario planning can be extremely helpful. There are degrees in which we can predict the future, and then there are many uncertainties. By structuring certainties and examining all possible outcomes of uncertainties, we can predict many different futures. The “State of Vermont” document exemplifies thorough and practical scenario planning. Once we can lay out the certainties of the future, we can better see the world that our uncertainties will fit into. These systems cannot be understood without system mapping. We will use the Vermont assessment to determine certainties and uncertainties, but in order to take action, we must understand the system of Middlebury college, and then the greater system of Vermont. Understanding the system will allow us to know which parts of the system pertain to our uncertainties, and the greater effect of each of our possible outcomes.
    Problem solving cannot be effective without understanding the problem, the greater context, the possible future outcomes, and the needs of the people involved. We may be able to develop strategies for sustainability without these tools, but I think the plan would be incomplete and not as creative at it could. Innovation does not come naturally to everyone, so these guidelines support and foster the creativity needed to achieve sustainability.

  5. Marjeela Basij-Rasikh says:

    In order to effectively bring positive changes in the societies – either if it is through launching a new project OR an organization – one has to utilize one or few strategically planning model(s). For a successful and sustainable outcome, I think incorporating human-centered designed (HCD) along with systems mapping is crucial and useful. By doing so it allows us to understand the place and the values of the community where we are operating.

    Achievement First (AF), founded in 2003, is a great organization who is challenging the idea that “urban students can achieve at the same high levels as their affluent suburban counterparts”. AF uses strategic planning and is closely working with lower income families in the cities and suburbs– especially those who are also marginalized and belongs to the minorities in their community – and recruits students from these families based on a lottery system. They are public charter schools and they are also working with other charter schools in NYC, RI, and CT. AF understands that each state in the US is a unique system and each of these 50 unique systems are connected to the larger system called USA government. AF believes that in order to tackle the larger education structure in the USA, they recognize that individual cities in each state require a close attention. Therefore, AF is inventing their time and energy in close interaction with the minorities’ families – and they are trying to understand their narratives so that they can include in in their curriculum development – is crucial in order to bring positive, sustainable, and effective changes in the larger education system and structure, especially in the public schools, in the USA. Their target is first generation students. AF believes that by supporting first generation students, who are the first people in their family to receive a high school and college degree, will strengthen other students in their positions and the their community over all through their dedicated contribution. As their organization grows, they continue to be committed to their core value, which is: “People Matter, Mightily.” They are more optimistic than ever about their potential to deliver on the promise of equal education for all and that their students will overcome all the hardship throughout college because they were given a lot of support and tools in high school and would be prepared what to expect in college.

    If an organization does not understand the system of a community, and if we do not get the support from local people, then organization – from the beginning – is set up to fail in the long term. Therefore, human-centered design and systems mapping go hand in hand. Human centered design allows us to extract useful information and narratives from a place, to identify what are the priorities, the interests, and the needs of people in that place; thereby, allowing us to come up with solutions that are specific and feasible in that particular community. Systems mapping not only mediates our understanding of the place and the community itself, but also it evokes the connectivity of our immediate system with other/ and or larger systems in the country and also globally. Using both HCD and system mapping gives us an opportunity to closely understand the place and environment through interviews and various narratives such us geological narratives, biological narrative, cultural and historical narratives. These strategies let us to identify the stakeholders, which then we can make sure to include the needs of all people – especially the marginalized and the minorities groups that are most of the time left out from a lot of important organization and government related policies and reforms.

    1. Marjeela Basij-Rasikh says:

      For more information about Achievement First, please visit the following page: http://www.achievementfirst.org/

  6. Eleanor Bennett says:

    Last week our class was introduced to the methodology of Human-Centered Design (HCD). As Kate and Dylan have touched on, HCD is a process that has been used by a variety of nonprofits, for-profit businesses, and social enterprises to come up with creative solutions to the world’s challenges.

    One organization using this methodology is the global design consultancy, IDEO. According to IDEO, the main goal of HCD is to, “increase the speed and effectiveness of implementing solutions that have an impact on the lives of the people these solutions were designed for.” In order to do this, IDEO states that practitioners need to begin by considering what people desire before moving on to the necessary considerations of what is technically feasible and financially viable. While it may seem intuitive that solutions should effectively impact the target audience they are intended to benefit, in practice this is often not the case.

    To make human-centered design accessible and easy to implement, IDEO has developed what they call, “The HCD Toolkit.” The toolkit is structured to guide practitioners through the three phases of the HCD process: Hear, Create, Deliver. In the Hear phase, one collects information by determining who to talk to, how to gather stories and how to document observations. The Create phase is the brainstorming phase in which you generate ideas and solutions that are applicable to the whole community. The final phase, Deliver, is when you test out your top solutions, improve them, and move toward implementation.

    One example of how HCD can contribute to the development of practical strategies to promote sustainability can be seen in the student garden program at the Bronx Academy of Letters Charter School in New York City. While the practitioners who designed this project—Kenny Williams (at the time a Middlebury College senior) and a group of fellow alumni—did not specifically use IDEO’s HCD Toolkit, I would argue that their project was ultimately successful in large part because it followed a human-centered design methodology. For Kenny and his team, the Hear phase began when they took the time to learn about the desires of different students and faculty at the Bronx Academy and collected information on why similar projects had failed in the past. During the Create phase, the team brainstormed possible solutions for getting funding as well as ideas that they hoped would ensure the success and sustainability of the student garden. Such ideas included an integrative curriculum, a student-led group that would serve as ambassadors for the garden, and an internship position that would ensure a long-lasting relationship between Middlebury and the Bronx Academy.

    In the final phase, Deliver, the team tested out their prototype idea by first presenting their plan to the Bronx Academy and then by doing a trial run with students and faculty. It quickly became clear to Kenny and the rest of the team that that they would have to adapt to the atmosphere that the students set, as they were the only ones who could ensure that the garden would continue to flourish in the long term. This meant learning to be patient and taking a more “hands-off” approach, allowing the students ownership over the program. It also meant getting more creative with funding since many donors were initially skeptical of the idea that Kenny’s team was empowering student ambassadors and faculty to make decisions on how the money would be spent. Ultimately the garden program at the Bronx Academy proved to be a success, and many schools in the area have been inspired to create similar projects.

    While human-centered design can be applied across many different fields, it is clear from the above example that this methodology has huge potential for developing practical strategies to promote sustainability in our world.

  7. Eliot Neal says:

    To me, one of the most important concepts we have explored in our classes has been scenario planning. Although you can pay $5 for a psychic to read your palm, nobody really knows the future. There are an infinite number of factors that play into how the future will play out, and this can be daunting. When dealing with climate change or other problems that require immediate action, there is no time to wait around to see what may or may not occur. So how do we take into account the variability of the future, while taking action now? By using scenario planning, we can map out what different futures might look like based on various uncertainties – all the way down to what the headlines might read in a futuristic newspaper. Based on each projected future, we can create plans of action that will result in sustainability no matter which future ends up becoming true. That is not to say that scenario planning is always used for good. As we have learned, Shell Oil, which created the process of scenario planning, has mapped out futures that take into account climate change – they are aware of the consequences of climate change, and yet have done next to nothing to mitigate their impact or address climate issues. Unfortunately, they have chosen to pursue the future that is best for them, not the future that is best for the planet.
    In terms of figuring out what exactly needs to be fixed, systems mapping can also be very useful. Understanding how a system works as a whole is imperative to identifying the places where it does not work as efficiently as it could. Just as there are many factors that influence the future, there are oftentimes a vast number of stocks and flows in a system. When we studied the system of the Greg’s Meat Market parking lot, mapping out the exact details of these stocks and flows allowed us to present much more effective solutions to ease congestion and “fix” the system. Systems mapping also helps us to understand why the stocks do what they do. A great example in sustainability is dams. Hydropower was presented as a perfect renewable energy source. However, if sufficient systems mapping had been conducted, we would have realized that constructing dams has serious impacts on an ecosystem and completely devastates river systems. Additionally, dams often displace many humans and other animals. All things considered, dams are not very sustainable. Systems mapping is essential for recognizing how an entire system will be affected by proposed solutions, not just the aspect of a system that you are focused on.

  8. Jess Parker says:

    Specific planning skills, such as systems mapping, human-centered design, and scenario planning, enhance our understanding of complex systems and foster the development of creative, practical strategies for promoting sustainability. Systems mapping forces us to think about the nature of the exchanges between the various components, or stocks, of a system. When we visualize a system as a series of interactions, or flows, between different stocks, we can begin to identify places within the system where we can make an impact. As a class, we practiced our systems mapping skills at the Greg’s Meat Market parking lot in town, a distressed system that suffers from congested traffic flows. Critically examining the parking lot through the lens of systems mapping allowed us to see new components and relationships at work in that system that we would not usually consider in our everyday interactions with the space. Working through the process of mapping Greg’s Meat Market parking lot in both individual and group settings highlighted the effectiveness of thinking through complex problems with other people. As we progressed to using our collective system map to come up with possible solutions to the problem of traffic flow, the method of proposing all plausible changes while withholding judgment – both positive and negative – allowed us to come up with more innovative and creative ideas. Although we rejected most of the ideas that emerged from our brainstorming session, the process of throwing out any and all potential solutions encouraged the development of an integrated strategy that addressed various points of weakness within the system.

    In the context of climate change, the practice of systems mapping reveals the complexity of human-nature systems and allows for the development of policies and strategies that account for the dynamic relationships between people and the natural environment. Liu et al. (2007) emphasizes that the lack of progress in understanding human-nature systems stems from the separation of the study of social and natural sciences. Failing to consider the coupling of human and natural systems across space, time, and organizational units can lead to well-intentioned policies and practices that have detrimental effects (1513). As we begin to develop practical strategies to promote sustainability on the Middlebury campus in the Sustainability Practicum, mapping the human-environment system of the College will enable us to visualize the multitude of relationships that contribute to Middlebury’s everyday operations and identify the vulnerabilities within the system in light of climate change.

    In our practitioner conversation, Bill McKibben emphasized that the problem of climate change requires systematic changes within our society; ultimately, changing all of our light bulbs to CFLs is not going to slow the tide of climate change. We need large-scale changes on a systems level. Systems mapping is one skill within our toolkit that inspires effective solutions to exceedingly complex problems and will continue to serve us in our professional careers.

  9. Dana Kluchinski says:

    The skills we are learning will help us directly with developing strategies to promote sustainability. These skills help to change the perspective of the problem. When tackling a large problem it is easy to feel overwhelmed or even stuck. The tools we are learning in SoE help to break down problems into smaller pieces and learn how to creatively approach and brain storm solutions.
    When looking long term, scenario planning can be extremely helpful. There are degrees in which we can predict the future, and then there are many uncertainties. By structuring certainties and examining all possible outcomes of uncertainties, we can predict many different futures. The “State of Vermont” document exemplifies thorough and practical scenario planning. Once we can lay out the certainties of the future, we can better see the world that our uncertainties will fit into. These systems cannot be understood without system mapping. We will use the Vermont assessment to determine certainties and uncertainties, but in order to take action, we must understand the system of Middlebury college, and then the greater system of Vermont. Understanding the system will allow us to know which parts of the system pertain to our uncertainties, and the greater effect of each of our possible outcomes.
    Systems mapping breaks down the problem into smaller pieces and provides a visual to see which pieces affect each other. This helps to identify the root of the problem, and the chain reaction of events that cause the problem to escalate. Without mapping a system, I think a common mistake is that people tend to focus on solution oriented planning, rather than problem oriented. In this situation there is a likelihood of missing the essence of the problem entirely and coming up with band-aid solutions. These are quick fix solutions because they zoom in on one aspect of the system. Most problems are extremely complex and the entire system needs to be reworked in order to solve them in the long term sense. The state of Vermont assessment uses scenario planning, but in order for us to find it useful we must map the system.
    Problem solving cannot be effective without understanding the problem, the greater context, the possible future outcomes, and the needs of the people involved. We may be able to develop strategies for sustainability without these tools, but I think the plan would be incomplete and not as creative at it could. Innovation does not come naturally to everyone, so these guidelines support and foster the creativity needed to achieve sustainability.

  10. Charlotte Ahern says:

    For the Sustainability Practicum, we are analyzing the Vermont Climate Assessment, the first state-scale Climate Assessment in the country. Before dividing into the individual chapters focusing on specific topics such as forest cover and agriculture, the report addresses the importance of adaption and mitigation. Climate Change will happen and every aspect of the world will feel its affect. Rather, it is how we as a society respond. Adaptions are adjustments to reduce vulnerability to shocks; mitigation is a proactive process addressing the root by focusing on reducing emissions that caused the problem in the first place. Adaption and mitigation seem like rather obvious steps to take in light of climate change and extreme weather events. However, especially seen through the documentary on Hurricane Katrina, “Trouble the Water”, a system can crash very easily. Although the government had a response to the hurricane, the film exposed the failures of disaster-planning especially in light of New Orleans’ poor communities. For example, there was no public transportation out of the city before the event; those who could not afford to leave had no choice.

    Scenario planning develops good plans and smart strategies by taking into account the uncertainties of the future. From 1991-92, the Mont Fleur scenario exercise in South Africa helped to bridge people from across organizations for their country’s future. The process is open to conversation and inclusive, logical rather than value-based, and holistic by addressing the socio-politico-economic, as well as cultural and ecological aspects of society. While the future is highly unpredictable, it is also our one shared common ground. The true power of scenario planning, whether optimistic or not, is that of imagination and creativity. Although preceding the final step of action and implementation, the creation of shared visions help to determine what might happen from what could happen. In our class exercise, I was continually surprised at the outcomes on planning for Middlebury’s Dining Services. I am very interested in Food Systems, yet there were so many possible outcomes from our scenarios that I had never even considered before. (Such as how the overall student body would react to a shift to purely local food: no bananas, coffee, chocolate, etc). Scenario planning is absolutely vital to the creation of a sustainable world, whether for a large-scale situation such as the one in South Africa, to Middlebury College.

  11. Isaac Baker says:

    I see Scenario Planning and systems thinking (or mapping) as a gift for any business, government, non-profit or collective of people who have goals that stretch at least a few years into the future. Planning for different scenarios and plausible futures helps promote stability within an organization, while systems thinking gives rise to a more holistic and accurate view of one’s role within broader processes. If we accept that we live in one of the fastest changing times in human existence — between global warming and globalization — it is clear that our current solutions are becoming obsolete more quickly than ever. Taking the time to imagine the future viability of an organization — as we are currently doing with Middlebury College — promotes resiliency, particularly with regards to environmental sustainability.

    The first example that comes to mind from our coursework revolves around disaster issues we’ve discussed in Environmentalism and the Poor. In addressing disaster relief, the organizational body we tend to think about is government, and perhaps also humanitarian aid (like NGOs). While historically colonial government’s have employed atrocious recovery strategies (or sometime a general lack thereof), it has been interesting to explore the ways in which our modern relief efforts, like those that followed Hurricane Katrina, lacked forethought and planning, and were arguably greater contributors to human suffering than the flooding itself. For a group like FEMA, scenario planning seems obviously essential and better planning might have contributed to better outcomes. One tiny example to give is thinking about transportation. With a potentially catastrophic hurricane still on the horizon that might necessitate complete evacuation of the city, it would seem important to arrange public transportation networks that could move car-less people to safer ground. Systems thinking might have helped prevent the settlement of areas that are so far below sea level, or might have prevented further canal development that further jeopardized low-lying areas like the 9th ward. The outcomes that an organization is looking for is of course of primary importance, and it’s pretty clear that much of the development of New Orleans has not been based around environmental sustainability or protection for its poorest residents. What is clear is that these tools, if applied with the right values and goals in mind, can provide powerful insight in planning for the future.

  12. Joseph Interligi says:

    When it comes to developing practical strategies to promote sustainability the most important planning skill I think one should cultivate is their ability to create system maps. With a system mapping approach you cannot just think of the problem in a singular aspect. The only way a person can understand an area or problem is to understand its role in the bigger system. By understanding how each individual part plays a role with each other in a system you can implement a solution that takes into account the far reaching implications. This helps eliminate the possibilities of events progressing to a feeling of “in hindsight” when there is unexpected repercussions. By completely mapping the system that is being looked at in terms of increasing the systems sustainability you can successful create a plan that attacks the problem in many directions. It is uncommon for a problem to ever have an isolated solution.

    In complement to systems mapping; scenario planning does a great job at predicting plausible outcomes of the current system. By eliminating what is possible and allowing you to focus on what is plausible one can create solutions that have a greater chance of being productive in terms of increasing sustainability. With an enhanced idea of what might happen you can develop strategies that are practical to the system and the plausible futures it might face. Without implementing either of these planning skills there is a chance that a decision made toward sustainability could have long lasting negative effect rather than the positive aspect one wished for.

  13. Alex Cort says:

    Each specific planning strategy has its own respective strengths and weakness when it comes to practical use to promote sustainability. In our time at the School of the Environment, we are combining the strengths of each strategy in the Sustainability Practicum course. We have learned from the very best each different skill; system planning from Stephen Trombulak, human-centered design from the founders of IDEO, and scenario planning from Jack Byrne.
    As part of our final project, we are looking at vulnerabilities to climate change at Middlebury College. And in order to fully engage in and complete our task, we have used these tools to understand the system and the possible scenarios, hopefully designing a solution for the future. By the end of the project, we will have used these practical strategies to promote the sustainability of the college, maintaining its diversity and productivity.
    We began with the basics of scenario planning to understand the possible future outcomes dependent on different certainties of climate change determined by the VT Climate Assessment (http://vtclimate.org/). This required scenario planning to make these different situations come alive. Giving these scenarios meaning was the first step in this process. This relates to the “H” in human-centered design. Lets call this the, hearing phase when we determine what is wrong with the system. Once this is complete we can map the system, so its intricate parts can be fully understood. Mapping a system makes vulnerabilities or kinks stand out. This is as far as we have gotten in our projects, but we are moving to the “C”, which will be creating the solutions to these vulnerabilities. Followed by the “D” which will be a delivery of our final product.
    While each of these practical strategies on their own exhibit strengths, together they are powerful. As a package, they offer a unique and practical strategy to promoting sustainability.

    Human-centered design tool kit: http://www.hcdconnect.org/methods

    Bike before you drive.

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