PhD Seminar: Transition Design: Design for Systems-Level Change by Terry Irwin

Terry Irwin will introduce Transition Design, a new area of design focus aimed at addressing wicked problems and seeding/catalyzing societal transitions toward more sustainable futures. In this talk, Terry will situate Transition Design in relation to other design approaches, give an overview of its theory and practical application and discuss a recent project to map the spread of and response to COVID-19 in the U.S., through the lens of Transition Design.

Terry Irwin

Terry Irwin is Director of the Transition Design Institute at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and from 2009 until 2019 she was the Head of the School of Design. Terry has been teaching at the university level since 1986. Her research in Transition Design is a new area design study, practice and research that argues for societal transition toward more sustainable futures. Terry, along with Gideon Kossoff and Cameron Tonkinwise, developed Transition Design and integrated into programs and curricula at CMU School of Design in 2014.

Terry has been a practicing designer for more than 40 years and was one of the founding partners of MetaDesign, an international design firm. She served as the Creative Director of the San Francisco office from 1992 to 2002 and worked with Fortune 500 clients. MetaDesign worked on projects in the areas of computer software and interface design, brand identity systems, exhibition and wayfinding and information design.

In 2003 she moved to Devon, England to undertake a Master’s Degree in Holistic Science at Schumacher College, an international center for ecological studies. After completing her studies, she joined the faculty at Schumacher and taught ecological design thinking and design process. This experience convinced her that large, complex problems can only be solved by transdisciplinary, collaborative teams and that design has a powerful role to play as a catalyst for positive social and environmental change. In 2007 Terry moved to Scotland to undertake PhD studies at the Centre for the Study of Natural Design at the University of Dundee.

Terry has held faculty positions at Otis Parsons School of Design, Los Angeles (1986-1989), California College of Arts & Crafts, San Francisco (1989-2003) and the University of Dundee, Scotland (2007-2009). She has guest lectured and taught at numerous schools in Europe and North America. She holds a Master’s Degree in design from The Basel School of Design, Switzerland (1986) and an Honorary Doctor of Letters from Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Vancouver (2019).

Terry lives with her husband, Gideon Kossoff, a social ecologist and design theorist in Pittsburgh. Her research and teaching materials on Transition Design can be found on her site.

Join this seminar on Zoom
Meeting ID: 971 7131 9912
Passcode: 553378

  • All PolyU PhD students are welcome.
  • This seminar, hosted on Zoom Meeting, allows only authenticated users.
  • Event registration is required (click here). Registrants will receive a reading list prior to this seminar.