Course Title: Industrial Design Ecologies: Sustainability, Socio-technical Systems and Change

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Industrial Design Ecologies: Sustainability, Socio-technical Systems and Change

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


315H Architecture & Design


Sem 2 2007,
Sem 2 2008,
Sem 2 2009,
Sem 2 2010,
Sem 2 2011,
Sem 1 2012,
Sem 2 2012,
Sem 1 2013,
Sem 2 2013


City Campus


320H Architecture & Urban Design


Sem 1 2014,
Sem 2 2014,
Sem 1 2015,
Sem 2 2015,
Sem 1 2016,
Sem 2 2016,
Sem 1 2017,
Sem 2 2017


City Campus


370H Design


Sem 2 2018,
Sem 1 2019,
Sem 2 2019


Brunswick Campus


370H Design


Sem 1 2020

Course Coordinator: Juan Sanin

Course Coordinator Phone: Please email

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: Please email

Course Coordinator Availability: Please email

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

Industrial Design Ecologies is one of three courses in the Industrial Design Studies Stream. In each course you will ballot for one of a series of tutorials offered that deal with different aspects of the broad theme of the course and as such each tutorial provides a different route towards capability development in design research, design thinking and how meanings of and for industrial design practice may be constructed. The specific Design Studies tutorials offered within the each course are unique in each and every semester and are intended to expose you to diverse ways of engaging with, and responding to, contemporary issues and possibilities for design practice.

In this course you will explore various theories and practices of design for sustainability and change-making. As a significant proportion of the environmental impacts of a product or service are determined within the design phase, Industrial designers must contend with and adapt their approaches within a global landscape of depleted natural capital and serious challenges for human systems to sustain themselves. By critically questioning tacit and presumed notions of use, utility, production and consumption Designers, as agents of change, have a unique capacity to affect significant social and behavioural transformation towards reduced degrees of un-sustainability.

These strategies for seeking a greater balance of often competing social, cultural, environmental and economic concerns are an increasing imperative of contemporary design practice demand quite specific methodological knowledge. Industrial Design Ecologies looks to equip you with the crucial design for sustainability knowledge and methods to inform your design processes, and to establish a framework for responsible design decision-making and action.

You will learn through design enquiry about; macro-level environmental, cultural and economic concerns; the nature and structure of complex socio-technical systems; patterns of production and consumption; whole systems and product life cycle thinking; design strategies for sustainment, and methods of design thinking for change.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Effectively map, research, analyse and communicate theories, projects and their interrelationships confidently and independently through written, design, oral and multimedia presentations.
  • Appropriately evidence propositions and ideas in response to methods of research and academic conventions.
  • Engage in peer to peer learning and critique processes and to be critical and reflective of own work.
  • Assemble and compose formal and informal knowledge in ways that creatively challenge and champion design.
  • Locate key ideas in design theory with reference to their historical and contextual origins.

You will be assessed on your development of the following program learning outcomes:

  • Apply analytical, critical, creative and strategic thinking to industrial design problems and research within complex and unfamiliar contexts and concerns.
  • Articulate complex design ideas to diverse audiences through an advanced and adaptable repertoire of communication strategies and technologies.
  • Advocate through design practice the improvement of the conditions and well being of people, cultural practices and environments.
  • Reflect on own learning and the efficacy of design decisions made, adapting to needs and issues as they arise, and continuously seeking improvement.
  • Demonstrate through practice-based design research an advanced knowledge of the socio-technical, environmental and economic eco-systems of industrial design both locally and globally.

Overview of Learning Activities

You will be actively engaged in learning that involves a range of face to face and online activities such as lectures, tutorials, group and class discussion, group activities and individual research.

You will be required to engage in the following learning activities: reading, in field observations, watching films and documentaries, field trips, debates, presentations, academic writing, drawing, peer review and associated design activities. You are encouraged and expected to participate (in an ongoing manner) in tutorial discussions and activities and to present their work and ideas in an open way for appraisal by peers.

Each Industrial Design Ecologies tutorial has its own specific learning activities and outcomes related to it’s particular content and methodological focus.

Overview of Learning Resources

To effectively participate in coursework you are advised to procure (as a minimum) the following:

  • Drawing Supplies including visual diaries, pens, pencils, markers and ancillary products and consumables.
  • Documentation Equipment including a digital camera and an audio recording device such as a mobile phone.

Additionally, it is advisable that you have a personal computer of an appropriate specification.

Assessment tasks, lecture notes and other study materials will be available online through the MyRMIT portal. You will also be expected to seek further resources relevant to the focus of your own learning.

RMIT Swanston Library has extensive resources for Industrial Design Students

Overview of Assessment

Assessment will cover both theoretical and practical aspects of your learning. You will be assessed on how well you meet the course’s learning outcomes and on your development against the program learning outcomes. Assessment may include essays, reports, visualisations, design prototypes, and presentations. Assessment tasks may be undertaken either individually or in teams.

Summative feedback will be given on all assessment tasks and may be delivered in a variety of forms including critique panels, audio or video recordings and written reports. Additionally you will receive ongoing formative feedback as you progress through the course from your lecturer and from your peers in view of continuous improvement and greater degrees of reflectivity on your own learning.

Equitable Learning Service

If you have a long term medical condition and/or disability it may be possible to negotiate to vary aspects of the learning or assessment methods. You can contact the program coordinator or the Equitable Learning Services if you would like to find out more.

Assessment Policy

Your course assessment conforms to RMIT assessment principles, regulations, policies and procedures: