Master of Art of Sustainable Design

Closing the Sustainability Values-Action Gap: Development of Interdisciplinary Training for Emerging Corporate Leaders

Contributors
Committee Member: Bauman, Trisha
Committee Member: Garcia, Deann
Thesis Chair: Keene, Dawn
Semester
Fall 2023
Academic Year
2023-2024
Department
Description
Humanity has reached a critical time for decision-making as ecosystem tipping points approach that will determine the future livability of planet Earth. American corporations are major contributors to the climate crisis, driving high rates of emissions and pursuing unsustainable growth for capital gains, rather than working towards a life-centered economy that prioritizes the health of all people and the planet. This thesis addresses the need for emerging corporate leaders who value sustainability, to act in alignment with those beliefs when it comes to taking action in the corporate sector. Using design for behavior change, this thesis developed a training program built around an in-person retreat. The material covered uses the combined disciplines of sustainability, design, and mindfulness to equip participants with the knowledge, skills, and understanding needed to have the capabilities to act in their respective workplaces in accordance with their sustainability values, especially as new opportunities arise when they step into more powerful leadership positions within their corporations. Supported by a new network of like-minded change-makers, participants of the program have the potential to steer the American economy toward a life-centered future and inspire greater global action to follow suit.
Genre
Original Format
Digital Format

Envisioning Circular Food Systems: Community Food Management Centers

Contributors
Advisor: Garcia, Deann
Committee Member: Lefeber, Cassandra
Committee Member: Jedlicka, Wendy
Thesis Chair: Keene, Dawn
Semester
Fall 2023
Academic Year
2023-2024
Department
Description
"Food Systems have a widespread and interconnected impact on the health of the earth and its inhabitants. The exponential growth in the output of food wasted by American consumers over the last 60 years,¹ despite food insecurity persisting in this country, points to food waste as a contemporary challenge. Addressing food waste from the consumption stage is a unique leverage point for sustainable intervention because the problem is universal, pervasive, and solvable. Although the causes behind consumer food waste are complex, the scalability of food's life cycle makes remediation accessible to the general populace.

This project makes the case for developing Community Food Management Centers as a design solution to harness the issue of food waste as a catalyst to bridge divides that separate Americans around sustainability issues. The concept is explored through the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's From Ambition to Action: Adaptive Strategy for Circular Design and analysis of historical approaches to the challenge. Elements of the Community Food Management Center are then prototyped using Systems Thinking techniques and measured against the intended objectives. "
Genre
Original Format
Digital Format

A mobile application for sharing food in apartment complexes

Creator
Contributors
Advisor: Garcia, Deann
Committee Member: Robbins, Holly
Committee Member: Pedersen, Olivia
Thesis Chair: Keene, Dawn
Semester
Fall 2023
Academic Year
2023-2024
Department
Description
"United States residents waste 40% of the food they purchase, a significant amount of which is due to causes that otherwise are avoidable (e.g. spoiled, forgotten, etc.). While the down stream impacts caused by landfilling and composting are considerable, the majority of the impact comes from the upstream production of food that is never consumed. As a problem experienced across the population, there is an opportunity to harness this shared problem and solve it with community.

With 30% of people feeling disconnected from the communities in which they reside, there is
opportunity to create a tool that instills a sense of connection. As freestanding communities with a significant population, apartment buildings are an attractive audience due to neighbor proximity. Mobile application Cup of Sugar provides a convenient platform for users to share excess food items or request items they might need, all of which is displayed on an Activity feed that reinforces community engagement.

Continued development appears promising, though the app has room for improvement when
evaluated against the Living Principles. With optimization, Cup of Sugar could play an integral role in shifting the paradigm from the individual to the community."
Genre
Original Format
Digital Format

Utilizing Audio and Listening in Communication Paradigms to Capture Attention and Motivate Sustainable Behavioral Shifts: A Case Study in Sonifying Narratives of the Adopt-A-Drain Program in Minnesota's Nine Mile Creek Watershed District

Creator
Contributors
Advisor: Garcia, Deann
Committee Member: Robbins, Holly
Committee Member: Morét, Skye
Thesis Chair: Keene, Dawn
Semester
Spring 2023
Academic Year
2022-2023
Department
Description
"To close the gap between an individual's felt sustainable and environmental values and performed behaviors, this thesis explores current visual and digital communication paradigms in the United States. This paradigm fuels a demanding attention economy that perpetuates climate anxiety, green fatigue, and audience disengagement from vital climate and environmental communications.

Through design thinking, while leveraging systems thinking, this thesis explores sound-centric communications as a tool to foster holistic reception of sustainability communication with an ultimate goal to motivate individuals to adopt sustainable behaviors.

This project considers audio in both form and narrative. Deep listening, facilitating connectivity with nature, along with emotional and systems thinking-based reflection are utilized to render sustainability narratives personable and achievable. This strategy is shaped by self-determination theory and self-actualization processes. Audio forms include field recordings, spoken reflections, and data sonification. A case study on storm drains in relation to watershed health drive this project's narrative subject through the Adopt-a-Drain program's impact within Nine Mile Creek watershed district in Minnesota.

Through creating and surveying audio assets, this project determines there is potential for local and community-driven sustainability efforts and organizations to utilize experiential audio to engage an audience. Survey results demonstrate heightened interest in joining the Adopt-a-Drain program in response to audio assets. This thesis prototypes a QR coded sign posted at a storm drain in Nine Mile Creek watershed's district, prompting individuals to consider where water flows from local storm drains, linking to a website that presents an audio experience synthesizing the surveyed audio assets.

This thesis process posits that this prototype could serve to reach audiences more effectively than digital modes of sharing audio may. This thesis will lead to the testing and implementation of this prototype."
Genre
Original Format

Designing for Circularity in and beyond the Food Recovery System: Behavioral Analysis of Organizational Patterns Between Food Insecurity, Food Recovery, and Public Policy in Alameda County, California

Creator
Contributors
Committee Member: Costantini, Kai
Committee Member: Iyer, Paddy
Thesis Chair: Keene, Dawn
Semester
Spring 2023
Academic Year
2022-2023
Description
"This thesis examines the issue of food insecurity in the United States and the lack of utilization of surplus foods for its intended purpose. It aims to increase food recovery percentages and offers insights into how organizations can self-organize, transform the systems they participate in, and cross boundaries set by power structures. The thesis applies sustainability frameworks, including Systems Thinking, Design Thinking, Circular Economy, and Biomimicry, to explore the Food Recovery System in Alameda County, California.

The insights gained provide a deeper view into system dynamics - revealing challenges to solve, structures of behavioral patterns, critical places to intervene, and strategies for system evolution. The thesis proposes a coordinated approach involving policymakers, community leaders, private sector stakeholders, and social justice nonprofits to address the root of wicked problems such as food insecurity and wasted food. The thesis emphasizes the need for systemic change and paradigm shifts to create a food system that prioritizes basic human needs with equitable access, without profit motives or unfettered excess. The results highlight the potential for adaptation and evolution in pursuing sustainable solutions to complex problems."
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Original Format