Tao of sustainability: at the zenith of a 7 billion’s experiment

On the day when human population reached the mark of 7 billion inhabitants, I was presenting a paper on teaching Design for Sustainability in Beijing, one of the most densely populated cities in the world. Working for sustainable futures in China it’s as ironic as teaching sustainability in Alberta for different but well connected reasons. Both places very unsustainable in the present, both actors of this tipping point in humanity, both “fueling” the modern economy.

The paradox is that here and there designers, educators and students are working on changing the systems that led to this dead end. The contrasts – between population and industry there, tar sands and consumption here– help designers to feel the sense of urgency as a driving force.

The conference I attended was called “The Tao of Sustainability: an international conference on sustainable design strategies in a globalization context”

The “Tao” means “a path too…” or “the principles of…”.  Tao is a metaphysical concept according to traditional Chinese philosophy.

How big or small  these steps are – which designers all around the world are trying to take- only  time will be capable to demonstrate. My two cents are what I teach to my students, one DfS class at the time.

Part of my DfS presentation can be seen here:

DfS2011-Beijing

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