Ecological Literacy in Design Education - A Theoretical Introduction

Joanna Boehnert


Sustainability educators developed the concept of ecological literacy to provide a basis for understanding environmental problems and developing new capacities and critical skills to respond effectively. This paper presents a theoretical introduction to ecological literacy for design education. It starts with a philosophical overview of why ecological literacy is neces­sary, including details of some of the planet’s vital signs. The paper then describes six ecologi­cal principles (networks, nested systems, cycles, flows, development and dynamic balance) along with associated design concepts (resilience, epistemological awareness, a circular econ­omy, energy literacy, emergence and the ecological footprint). The final section explains why critical ecological literacy is necessary to make the work of transforming unsustainable condi­tions and designing sustainable ways of living possible.

Cover image: Principles, Ecolabs, 2014  

Emneord (Nøkkelord)

design education, sustainability, ecological literacy, environment, systems design


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Copyright (c) 2015 Joanna Boehnert

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.