Sustainable futures by design : enriching the balance between engagement processes and outcomes

Dawes, Les A. & Satherley, Shannon D. (2008) Sustainable futures by design : enriching the balance between engagement processes and outcomes. The Australasian Journal of Community Engagement, 2(3), pp. 28-37.

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Design projects by engagement develop innovative responses to the needs of communities seeking direction toward sustainable futures. The quality of an engagement partnership between community and university plays an important role in the efficacy of this response. Quality partnerships draw on the knowledge and capacities of all partners, and also contribute something to all partners. Thus an appropriate balance is needed between engagement processes and outcomes. In design engagement projects, there is danger of a pattern forming whereby communities provide opportunity, resources and consultation only at the commencement of a project, with the university providing completed designs at the end. While design academics are primarily interested in the processes of student learning (Smith, Sanders, Demirbilek and Scott 2005), communities understandably prioritise project outcomes, and there is potential for the design teams (students) to feel uncertain about their role. In this scenario, community partners’ involvement in the design engagement process need to be enriched in order to better produce innovative and responsive outcomes, both in terms of their sustainable futures, and the pedagogical needs of the university partners. Queensland University of Technology Schools of Design and Urban Development are undertaking a series of engagement projects designing for sustainable futures in response to the needs of communities in sensitive Queensland regional environments. Our projects perform an ‘integrative and innovative role in the cultivation of equitable and sustainable regions’ (Forrant and Silka 2006), with senior students developing innovative design outcomes focused on sustainable economic, social, cultural and environmental futures. In this paper, we examine the balance between design engagement processes and outcomes through the trajectory of these projects. Lessons learned from past projects informed the planning of our current ‘Port of Bundaberg’ project, in which we prioritise enrichment of the process-outcomes balance. It builds on projects at nearby coastal Poona and Bargara, having the potential to develop existing and new quality partnerships and further our contribution to the sustainable future of the globally significant Great Sandy Marine Park. In responding to the needs of communities seeking direction toward sustainable futures, student designers require a rich understanding of the community and region. We find this is best achieved through an ongoing conversational process between the differing forms of knowledge and capacities embedded within both community (Armstrong 1999, Thomas 2006) and university partners. As our projects demonstrate, innovative design for sustainable futures needs quality partnerships based on an enriched balance between engagement processes and outcomes.

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ID Code: 18030
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: Access to the author-version is currently restricted pending permission from the publisher. For more information, please refer to the journal’s website (see hypertext link) or contact the author.
The contents of this journal can be freely accessed online via the journal’s web page (see hypertext link).
Keywords: Engagement, Sustainable futures, Sensitive environments, HERN
ISSN: 1833-4482
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > DESIGN PRACTICE AND MANAGEMENT (120300) > Design Practice and Management not elsewhere classified (120399)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > EDUCATION SYSTEMS (130100) > Higher Education (130103)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENGINEERING (090000) > ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING (090700) > Environmental Engineering Design (090701)
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Past > Institutes > Institute for Sustainable Resources
Past > Schools > School of Urban Development
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2008 The Australian Universities Community Engagement Alliance Inc.
Deposited On: 18 Feb 2009 05:47
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:45

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