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Cameron Tonkinwise

Cameron Tonkinwise


Conversation with Cameron Tonkinwise: Missions and Transition Design(ers)

24. Jan 2024

This is a conversation between Professor Cameron Tonkinwise, Research Director of the Design Innovation Research Centre at UTS — University of Technology Sydney and co-initiator of Transition Design, among countless other things, and our Design & Futures Lead Oskar Stokholm Østergaard on design-driven missions, transition design, and the role of design and designers in radical societal change

Long reads

Over the years, you’ve made huge contributions to design and have been a big influence on design in general, on our work, and on my work in particular. You originally had a background in philosophy, though. What got you into design?

So, the short answer is that I got kicked out of philosophy.

I literally walked out of a meeting where a philosophy professor said, “I don’t think what you’re doing is philosophy.” I then ran into a friend who said, “Oh, you’re interested in Heidegger? There’s this other guy over in the Fine Arts department teaching Heidegger; you should just go there.” That was Tony Fry, the famous design theorist. I went on to work with Tony Fry for the next 15 years. So, the short answer is that Tony Fry taught me the importance of design. 

But a less flippant answer is that the philosophies I was interested in were post-structural philosophies. People trying to do political change through philosophy – not just use philosophy to explain the world. Most of them were interested in trying to think of things that couldn’t currently be thought of, and so they all reached the limit of language, as Wittgenstein says. They then began experimenting with new types of language. 

Heidegger, for example, started crossing out words. He would say, “I’m using this word, but I don’t mean what you think that word means, so I’m going to cross it out.” That typographical crossing out, writing under erasure, was then taken up by Derrida and the whole of poststructuralism. 

Derrida and others were trying to find new material ways of thinking, also recognizing that if you wanted to think new things, you actually needed to change the institution of philosophy itself. Derrida was part of setting up the Collège International de Philosophie. It was a new type of institution that would be differently organized from a conventional university, and he was engaged in political activity with secondary teachers and things like that. So, the philosophy I was interested in, and the reason why I sort of got kicked out of the philosophy department, was that there had been some people who were sympathetic to that kind of poststructuralism, and they’d left, Elizabeth Grosz in feminist psychoanalytic thinking, things like that. So they’d left, and the university was left with just conventional people. And I was interested in doing philosophy in a new way, and they kind of said, “Well, that’s not philosophy”. And then I was, in a way, already thinking about design. So, it was a fairly natural fit when I met Tony Fry.

But I tell that story to say — and it goes immediately to the question of the Mission Playbook — if you want to change things, there’s the question of how much you want to change. Do you want to change within the existing system, or do you want to change the system? If you’re going to change the system, can you change the system by still using the same forms, the same organizations, the same language, or do you actually have to try to speak differently? Do you have to give a new word for the new system that makes everybody think: “What? What are you doing? What is that?” — it becomes an irritant and starts to restructure.

So this commitment to being experimental with words, organizations, and form, literally the communication design, is also a source of change and radical change. So, if you’re trying not just to think about something different but actually to become different, you need design to give you new languages, new forms, and new organizations. That is why I was interested in political philosophy. I was interested in radical change and was doing it from the philosophy side. Then, I realized that you could do it from the design side. What I found interesting about all these philosophers was that they were kind of experimental designers already without being formally trained.

It’s an important point about language. It’s also something we’ve been discussing a fair bit internally. With the rise of ChatGPT, large language models, and generative AI, I think choosing the words we use deliberately is vital. It is an integral part of our sensemaking and our work. If we don’t think about the words we use ourselves but let an algorithm do it for us, we’re letting go of some critical intentionality and power.

I think that’s exactly right. Large language models are pattern recognition systems and next-word predictors, whereas the whole point of design is trying to break patterns. You can put some fuzzy algorithms in, but then they’re just random patterns. 

In fact, that way you were speaking is how all designers design. Designers will be in a room, and they’ll receive a brief and then start using a shorthand phrase descriptor for what it is they’re trying to get at, like “Oh, we’re trying to make Zoom but for seeing ecological relations. So it’s EcoZoom. Yeah. We’re trying to make EcoZoom.” Each day they’ll come in, and they’ll look at the board, and the board says, “Ecozoom.” They put up some new ideas and make some sketches. Someone will say, “Well, that’s not very EcoZoomy,” or “Well, that’s a bit more Ecozoom.” They use this placeholder word to literally hold open a new world and then begin to build the things that would make EcoZoom correct.

And then, at some point, they’ll realize it’s a stupid word, and somebody will actually do content design and give it a proper name that makes it fit.

But all designers kind of do this, and I think it’s an important part. It’s a bit that designers are comfortable with. But for design thinkers who are non-designers, this is a bit where you’re really at the limit. Are you really comfortable with sounding like an idiot, saying, “I want Ecozoom” or “I want system change. I want a completely new world. I want a completely different way of interacting. I want to see ecological relations when I’m chatting to people. I don’t want just to see you; I want to see the ecological situation. You’re in your bioregion that should be your background” — or you know, I’m trying to think of a way of validating it.

If you’re not a designer, you will do that for a short workshop, but a design team will commit six months of their lives to trying to work out what Ecozoom is. That’s what I mean when discussing using these forms to hold open worlds that don’t yet exist. And if you’re just inheriting a term from a computer, it won’t be the kind of change we need.

This article is part of our Mission Playbook.

Explore the other articles here.

That also leads to the next question. I wanted to ask you about Transition Design and how it came into being between you, Terry Irwin, and Gideon Kossoff when you were at Carnegie Mellon. Could you speak a little bit about the ideas behind transition design, how it came to be, and how it is similar to or wildly different from mission-driven innovation?

Terry Irwin, a very famous experience designer, had been on the West Coast during the first dot-com era and kind of fled due to studying with Fritjof Capra. She went to Schumacher College, met Gideon, and was heading in an integral science direction, doing a PhD in that space. Then, she was asked to head up Carnegie Mellon School of Design. She told them, “I’m only prepared to return to design and design education if I can make an institution where the whole education program is focused on sustainable design as an outcome.” And the faculty said, “Yes, come.” 

What is interesting concerning your question is that Terry has been educated in social ecology and the Schumacher circle. That way of doing things has a strong commitment to consensus. And so, Terry then embarked upon a relatively lengthy process of ongoing workshops with her colleagues at Carnegie Mellon to say, “Well, you said yes, but you didn’t know what you were saying yes to. We must agree on the radical change we want to make to this famous degree program, undergrad, postgrad, and PhD.”

And so, it’s one thing to set a mission; it’s another thing to win consensus from people who want to commit to it. You can announce a challenge, but it’s different to have a bunch of people who have volunteered to work hard on the challenge. It’s an exciting moment in which you’re not just saying yes to the idea; you’re committing to a process of change without knowing what that process of change will be like. 

So then, Terry had gotten to this position of consensus and realized she now needed to further it when she reached out and asked me to join. I wasn’t part of the developing consensus, but I arrived into this very privileged position with a group of people who said, yes, this is now what we want. 

Then, it goes to the first answer. We first started by saying, “Well, we need to name this thing we’re trying to build. We don’t know what it is yet”—  so it’s like Ecozoom — “but we’re gonna name it.” And so we wondered. 

Terry and Gideon had a lot of experience with Transition Towns, while I’d been paying a lot of attention to transition management in Northern Europe as a kind of sustainable research discourse. So then we took the transition of Transition Management and put it with the transition of Transition Towns and Gideon’s work on social ecology and Transition in ecosystems as a metaphor for change.

We all had different experiences. Gideon, having been at Schumacher, Terry trying to change things in the American Institute of Graphic Arts, AIGA, and my Design Studies. We’d all spent a decade or two trying to bring sustainable change to happen and failed. 

We all realized that designers are undereducated and do not have a theory of change. The theory of change that designers have is that if it works, then people will buy it, and then, maybe, something changes: Unintended consequences, who knows?

That’s what designers do. Sometimes, they’re interested in making things beautiful, classic, or something like that, but we realized that we needed to articulate a whole bunch of things that designers needed to know to be change agents.

To be change makers, designers needed better sets of discourses. Transition design was the name we chose, and then we started filling it out by thinking about what we thought designers needed to know. That became the transition design seminar Terry taught the master students. I started taking elements of it and putting it in undergrad, and then meanwhile, we created a Ph.D. program and said to come and help us develop transition design.

Like the Mission Playbook, for example, is a set of tools and things you need to think about, Transition Design is also an attempt to say, ”Well, you want to do change, here are some things.” So, it’s a curated set. But it’s not trying to do it for anybody and, to some extent, give them design. It’s for designers. 

It’s trying to say:

“You designers have wanted to make significant social change concerning sustainability for some time, but you’ve never really understood how social change happens. So, you need to understand something about living systems and sociotechnical systems, and you need to understand something about human needs. And you need a different model of human needs, not the Maslow one. You need the Max-Neef one. You need to reschool in futuring. Not forecasting, not trend forecasting, not scenario planning, not what is likely and what could happen. But you need to reschool in imagining the impossible, the utopian, the completely different, and the preferential. And then, you need to also work out how to think about system change.”

That was the motivation. It was a very explicit attempt to say, “What is the 21st-century education that designers need if they’re going to be change agents?” We were presuming that the people we were talking to already knew the agency of design.

What happened was that a bunch of people started taking up transition design, but they were people who only understood the design thinking version of design. So, now we’re in a position of having to backfill and say: “No, no, hang on, hang on, can we explain to you design, ontological design, redirective practice” — you know, different ways of thinking about material practice design, things like that. We’ve got to explain it because transition design is taken up more by non-designers than designers. But we’d intended it to be a discourse for designers.

Right, I see. Speaking on Transition Design, you’ve previously emphasized the importance of the visioning component and the need to establish better, shared ideas about what is actually preferential. But, you’ve also clarified that you don’t see it as futuring — it’s only about the preferential. It resonates with me to some degree, but I’m curious about the distinction. Why is it important to make that distinction?

The space of futures, futuring, foresight, forecasting, and scenario planning is crowded. It feels like a very polluted river right now. There are some good things in there, there are some fish in there, but there are also a lot of plastic bottles clogging this particular river. So that’s the first thing. Just like so much of the discourse, it’s just people selling tools and techniques to preserve business as usual. 

The second thing is, as soon as you want the preferential and it doesn’t exist now, it’s obviously only ever going to exist in the future. We never have a time machine to go backward. The arrow of time only, apparently, heads in one direction. So, whenever you want the preferential, you’re necessarily talking about the future. 

But the moment you say to somebody, OK, just imagine 20-30 years into the future, as if that’s going to help them think about something preferential, they will immediately pre-populate that future. They will pre-populate it with things that exist now that have just gotten ten years older or developed.

When you give a date and get people to think about a future, they’re extending the present. So the only way around that is to labor really hard using scenario plans or different tools or techniques to just say, “OK, it’s in the future, but let’s imagine this bit of now doesn’t exist, and let’s imagine this bit about the future does.” 

You have to do so much work to stop people from extending the present that I think it’s more helpful just to say, “Let’s just imagine the preferential.” Then people are just not doing this extension bit, implicitly or explicitly. I’ve found that getting people to stop thinking like that is necessary. 

The last bit to say is that the moment you say future the other way, it’s kind of colonized. You know, by science fiction, dystopian films, global corporate reports, and plans. There’s such an imaginary that just fills it up. If you just start by thinking about the preferential and a day in the life of the preferential, it allows you to start doing social fiction instead of science fiction —  to start doing political change and not technological change. 

So, for all those reasons. It’s just imperative. We need visions; we need attractors, and we need to believe that something different is possible. We need to believe systems change is possible, and we need to concretize those systems changes to help make design decisions about what we do now, and we’ve definitely lost faith in doing that. But, the moment you give it a date, it’s gone wrong.

I think it’s a really interesting perspective. We do a lot of futuring, and a big part of my work — thinking back over the last couple of years — has been about deconstructing and dismantling projections from the present and preconceived ideas about what the future might be. To insist on alternatives to tech determinism and the thinking that new technologies will just swoop in and fix our problems. We often try to fight for how the future can be so much more than what is allowed within that. 

It’s intriguing to consider that we could, you know, sidestep that limiting frame altogether by using other words.

As you’ve described, it’s my experience that you can do something by mentioning the word future, to try and loosen people from the constraints of the present. Still, you have to do so much work to get rid of all their prejudices about the future together. That is a bit like saying to somebody, “Don’t think of an elephant.” By then, you’ve already kind of put it there.

"If you just start by thinking about the preferential and a day in the life of the preferential, it allows you to start doing social fiction instead of science fiction — to start doing political change and not technological change"

Cameron Tonkinwise

You have to cross out a lot of things like Heidegger. 

Yeah, that’s right. It’s like, I mean future, but not future, right?

I had an early fight between Terry, Gideon, and myself. It was mainly between Gideon and myself. I’ve got a completely different perspective on it now, as the degrowth discourse has arisen, but it didn’t exist so much when we talked about this in 2014-15. But Gideon often uses past examples, mainly like, “Why don’t we try to recover village life? Why don’t we try and recover that scale?”

And, of course, I always used just to have these natural reactions of “Oh my god, you know, that’s so politically retrograde. Those times were oppressive for women and minorities, and it was a kind of religious fundamentalism, and it was really claustrophobic. Why would you want any of that?”

Gideon always had this interesting response: “Are the qualities that you’re describing inherent to the form of the village, or was it just that the village occurred at a time when those were the dominant political discourses and ways of organizing society? Might it be possible to imagine village life, communal village life, that is no longer within those political frameworks?”

It becomes fascinating to do futuring with pasts and say, “Let’s imagine people are living a communal village life. Let’s imagine everybody has to work in the field. Let’s imagine a kind of feudalism that isn’t oppressive.”

It becomes an interesting provocation. And I just think it’s useful again to deal with the future. The other possibility, but even more dangerous, is to say: “Let’s consider how other people in the world live now. And that’s totally different to how people are in Denmark. But let’s imagine that you had night markets like in Southeast Asia and that people had very different sleeping habits and ways of thinking about the family. Why don’t we look at that as preferential? What would it be actually to say we should be designing towards that?” We’re doing this project here at the moment because we’re dealing with heat. 

I’m going to a workshop tomorrow dealing with people in social housing and the coming heat. A lot of that argument is “Can we shift daily practices?” — but that’ll mean living entirely differently. People would be living much more like their Southeast Asian neighbors rather than maintaining their current Anglo-Celtic way of living. It’s a provocative challenge, and it’s interesting to design for it. It’s a very different way of thinking about a future – to just think that the future will be practice-level.

I actually wanted to talk to you about practices, design, and theories of change. In your eyes, what’s particularly important to understand about design-based change, and how do you see it differ from the theories of change you see in, for example, mission-driven innovation?

So, there are always like three meanings to design: 

Firstly, there are designers as creative people. They’re innovative. You know, empathy and ideation. Design thinking.

Secondly, there’s design as a type of planning, thinking carefully through what will be required to make a change.

But the third type of designing, which is normally missed, is that designers have a habit of reading the world in terms of human-thing relations. Designers see the things in a space more than other people do. So, while other people listen to the language or see the power dynamics because they’re sociologists, anthropologists, or organizational people thinking about cultures and processes, designers notice things. Everyone else thinks that it’s superficial and doesn’t matter what color the seats are or how they’re arranged in a room. But the designers know that those things orient people in particular ways. They don’t structure people or determine their behavior; instead, they create moods and possibilities and afford actions. In that way, it’s the material things in environments or processes that actually create worlds. They make the world of what it means to be a consultant, or the world of what it means to be an ecologist or the world of what it means to be a police person or a teacher. Those worlds are things you need to do and skills you need to have, but they’re also a particular set of tools and arrangements that orient you and make you see certain things. The way designers see material things brings forward the meaning of activities.

Now, most people think that’s superficial. Most people think that’s a really small scale. You know, urban designers deal with the urban, but most designers are just dealing with human-scale things, clothes, devices, handheld devices, furnishings, screens, letters, typefaces, etc.

That’s what mission-driven innovation — and innovation-driven people in general, sociologists, anthropologists — they all miss that. They all just think that’s small and that’s everyday, that’s quotidian. It’s kind of like “it might make a difference, but who cares?” Designers who only see that recognise that any change you ever are going to make is going to in the end have to be a change in things, in typefaces, in forms, in the nature of interactions, in the way you experience somebody on Ecozoom. You know the seats, the lighting. If you’re going to make a change, you’re also going to have to make a change in material things. And in fact you should start with that. You should pay attention to that, because if you don’t, invariably you’ll design all these — as in design in the second sense, design as planning — you’ll design all these big things like “let’s have a mission and this is the new way we’re going to live. We’re going to live like that” – but then you’re just going to populate it with all the existing products and processes.

This is the example that I always have about some energy systems. If you’re going to have distributed energy systems, they’re all background engineering renewables. But in the end, there’s going to be households who interact with the energy system in some way. And I’m holding my hand up as if it’s a handheld device, like a phone. Doesn’t have to be that, it could be anything. And designers would imagine it could be anything. It should be anything. But if you’re going to change people’s relationship to energy, you can’t just background switch. You need to change the things: the furnishings, the seating, the clothing, stuff like that.

That’s what designers see — and I’ll just put it quickly in the negative — designers also recognize that whenever they want to do an innovation, whenever they want to create a new type of seat, or a new type of app, or a new type of form, you have to get rid of the thing that’s there already. If you design a really amazing seat, people will naturally get rid of the existing thing, but otherwise you’re going to have to actually try and clear space. 

You can say, “This is the mission, I’m opening up this space,” like in the diagram in the Mission Playbook but it misses the question of how do you open up? How do you get rid of all the things that are in there already? It’s a crowded space. There’s all this unlearning, unmaking, elimination design, clearing, there’s a bunch of things you need to do. If you’re going to make the new, you’ve got to start getting rid of the old.

You can’t just add more and more stuff. You have to do something and designers intuitively know that. If I convince you to change your chairs, they’re always a bit embarrassed because they know that landfills are about to get a whole bunch of old chairs. When you pay attention to that level of things, you can see a theory of change that everybody else misses because they think it’s just stuff: “Who cares? You can teach in any room; it doesn’t need to be a classroom. You can innovate in anything, it doesn’t need to have a whiteboard and post-it notes.” And it’s like, well, these things make a difference.

Where do you think we might be lacking in design? What do you think needs to be foregrounded more in design work? 

For transition and my own politics around degrowth, designers tend to use their skills to help sell things, and the sell-things-world is convinced that people only want faster, easier, cheaper, faster, easier, cheaper. 

Less friction.

Yeah, less friction. Get to automation, or if there has to be some interaction, just make it a single click. 

I think what designers need to do is look out in the world and listen out for, attend to, and observe the fact that a lot of us do get a lot of pleasure from things that are pretty effortful: Things that are seem-full, not seamless, that are friction-full and not frictionless. Some people play the violin and don’t want the violin to be easy to play. Some people work out. Some people like to weed. And some people, you know, realize that parenting is a process that can’t just be outsourced to either somebody from another country or an app.

Designers must pay attention to the fact that humans are interested in more than just faster, more automatic convenience. Designers need to pay a lot more attention to the fact that people want some things to be convenient, precisely so they can spend the rest of the time doing inconvenient things. And you can design for that as well. You can design beautiful exercise equipment, sporting equipment, games, or experiences. You can design things that are challenging and circuitous, and that takes time and effort, that bring people together and have social awkwardness. That’s what designers must listen to; you can design for that. You can make that attractive. You can find people who want that, and you can create beautiful versions of that. You can make material versions of it that make that pleasurable. And that’s how we’re going to get out of the predetermined and pre-populated futures. That’s how we will redirect and find past village life experiences to suddenly be non-oppressive and actually interesting for certain aspects of our lives.

Whenever you hear somebody say nobody would do that, it’s too expensive, it takes too much time. Designers have to say, well, some people would, and I can help them. It’s not for everybody, but it’s for some people, and that’s how you do transition design. 

What about the power component of it? You mentioned it as well in the example about the village. The dominant politics and discourses set the stage for people to interact with each other and with things. I often talk to designers about power because I feel like many designers are trying to avoid that space entirely. I don’t know where I’m going with this — something about power, I suppose?

I think, on the one hand, designers like to think of themselves as apolitical and just serving capitalist masters like tools to be employed or lubricants for the system. But, on the other hand — and design is not really taught this way — the best designers don’t, right? 

The best designers are constantly arguing and persuading. Design is a rhetorical activity in which you try to convince your colleagues that Ecozoom is a good idea. Then you’re trying to persuade some coders that it’s a good idea. Then you’re trying to convince some funders, and then some contractors and suppliers, and then you’re trying to convince users. The way you do that convincing is not only verbal rhetoric; it’s sometimes about putting a prototype in front of somebody at the right time, the right kind of prototype, knowing how much fidelity, that kind of thing. 

There’s a certain way in which you would say that, yes, designers are apolitical, but on the other hand, the entire design process is convincing. Convincing materials to do something they don’t want to do. Convincing investors to do something they didn’t realize was a good idea. Convincing regulators. It’s a convincing exercise. And so, therefore, it shouldn’t be that unusual to say to designers if there’s change you wanna make on behalf of something you’re designing, you can’t just sketch it, throw it, and then say, “Isn’t this convincing enough?”

The best designers will organize people around them, set up firms, and do a lot of public relations, but often around a style or a particular market niche instead of a transition, mission, or something like that.

The bit that designers don’t do very well — just because they’re trained to be kind of lone wolf creative geniuses, you know, with a very kind of euro-masculinist kind of way of being a star designer — is building alliances, networks, and acting in concert with other people. I spent a lot of time trying to convince designers in design consultancies who might be competing with others to devote more time conspiring with each other, like: “Oh, you’re doing that project, I’m doing this project. Actually, we can’t really tell anyone that we’ve talked about this because there might be a non-disclosure agreement, but there’s something we could do here” — just spend a lot more time outside the design world paying attention.

Again, if you’re going to be on a mission, if you’re going to be mission-driven, there’s a little bit of a risk that when you clear the space, you’re clearing the space cause nobody is there. But there should always be examples of people starting to do bits and pieces of that. The mission is not about creating a green space to do something completely new; it’s about coordinating a bunch of people doing things to make them realize they’re constituting a new space. They just thought they were doing this. Those other people thought they were doing that, but this plus that equals a new possibility. Any mission field is constituted by aligning and forming an alliance with the people who’ve started. There will be missing pieces, and you’ll be building that out. That’s the challenge. 

Designers are not very good at thinking like that. They’re not trained to always talk to other people and listen and wonder; they’re not Machiavellian political actors like that. But I think transition designers have to be.

That still doesn’t get to your question of how you deal with really big, horrible forces of capital that will defend themselves because they’re literally being squeezed out of existence. And you’re telling certain people who’ve had a privilege that they now have to give up their privilege. And you can’t design against that. You just have to run the political argument, which is, yes, I’m trying to put you out of business. You, you’re in the fossil fuel business. I don’t want to transition you. I want your business to fall over. Like now, it should have fallen over yesterday. The government props you up. I also am an activist against you. I’m with Stop Oil or Extinction Rebellion on top of everything else. So, you know the power bit, that’s a power – that’s not design. Designers should also be political activists, which is different from me saying they should be Machiavellian networkers. There are both sides. You can’t just do one or the other. You have to do it all, and that’s hard, but the future of humanity is at stake. It’s never going to be easy. You’re going to have to do both. You’ll have to blockade roads on the weekend, do alliance building on the week, and try to convince suppliers and things on Wednesday and Thursday.

If people are intrigued or motivated by transition design and are in a privileged position, they might have the power and opportunity to initiate something, influence something, do things differently, or somehow help direct attention or resources in a direction. What is a good way to get started? How do you put your position to good use, what do you do, and where do you go? Are there any good first steps?

I think one of the critical insights from sustainable transition management, sociotechnical transition management discourse, is that when systems are fracturing and going from system A to system B, they will only go to system B if there are already well-established instances of system B that have been in what they call a protected niche. A protected environment, a protected space in which they could develop. If you have power in system A and are committed to transition design, you should be creating protected spaces in which people can try out new ways of living. So safe to experiment, safe to fail, safe to learn spaces in which a social practice can be cultivated.

If you’re a company and you have the capacity to not just force them, but convince your workforce to try out new ways of living like a four day week or certain types of collective ownership, you can encourage people to try new values, and you can see if you can build ecosystems in which pockets of people are prepared to live like that. Then you can do a whole bunch of learning. So, when the time comes for other people, who might be prepared to take this up outside of your workforce, you’ve got the example to show them. You’ve got models to export and proof that this is possible. 

So, if you’re in a position of power, create protected spaces for experimentation. Not just in the technical innovation sense. Not the fail-early kind of tech innovation. Literally, let people live in new ways. Do social experiments. If you can create bounded spaces for social experiments, you are prefiguring the future. You’re creating pockets of the future in the now. If I had a lot of money and power that’s what I would be doing right now. 

Universities should be doing that. That’s exactly what they should be bloody doing, because they don’t exist in the market like other companies. There’s nothing more infuriating than the fact that the higher education sector, particularly in the Anglosphere, but Europe is following, is just becoming another part of the market. Universities should be walled off from the market like Medieval towns based on monks and monasteries so that you can do different ways of living. Then, when the world collapses and people come, they can say, “Good, we’ve got a whole different way of living inside this monastery here.” That’s what every bloody university should be doing. It’s what students should be doing. It’s infuriating that they don’t.

I think those are perfect last words.

Oskar Stokholm Østergaard

Design & Futures Lead

Phone +45 4027 1823
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