Against dystopias with ecological literacy

Boehnert, J ORCID: 0000-0002-8990-0325, Alexander, A and Sinclair, M (2024) 'Against dystopias with ecological literacy.' Cuadernos del Centro de Estudios en Diseño y Comunicación, 222. pp. 39-63. ISSN 1668-0227

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The longstanding dismissal of the ecological in civilisations that have developed dramatic ecology-altering and planetary boundary crossing technologies is at the crux of contemporary planetary polycrisis. Desirable and even viable futures depend on the design of new ways of living on the planet based on understanding humans in dynamic entanglement with the more-than-human context. Prioritising ecological relations is a fundamental break with assumptions of modernity and associated technologies, social practices, and future visions. We bring design and ecological knowledge together to describe foundational work in designing transitions to Ecocene Protopias, i.e., places of continuous ecological transition. As our springboard, we identify defuturing work in particular formulations of utopian thought. By describing future visions that accelerate ecological harms, we draw attention to the ecology-denying assumptions underlying techno-utopian stories and ideologies. This paper presents ecological literacy as a foundational critical and imaginative capacity to avoid dystopias emerging from traditions that dismiss the ecological. Sustainable and regenerative design practice depends on bolstering designers’ ecological literacies to enable more effective collective reimagining and redesigning future ways of living within planetary boundaries.

Item Type: Article

The journal title translates into English as 'Notebooks of the Center for Studies in Design and Communication'. This article is part of a special issue called Design Visions VII: Ecological Literacy and Sustainable Transitions.

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Goal 4: Quality Education
Goal 5: Gender Equality
Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities
Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
Goal 13: Climate Action
Goal 14: Life Below Water
Goal 15: Life on Land
Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals
Keywords: ecological literacy, utopia, protopia, techno-utopian, TESCREAL, transition design, sociotechnical imaginaries, dystopia, ecocene, polycene, accelerationism, discourse, ideology, futures
Divisions: Bath School of Design
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Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2024 17:45
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2024 17:45
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