Luisa Mok Design against Reverse Salients
Strategic design for the short-term future for sustainability transitions


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A reverse salient is, in a figurative sense, the inverse of a salient. It is a concept of technological transitions developed in the field of social studies of technology. The term conceptualises problems inherent in the near future, which may lead to disastrous consequences that eventually impede overall systems transitions. They are problems that are not seen at the present; even if they are projected, they are not easy to solve. This gives one reason for explaining design shortfalls from producing their intended outcomes for sustainability.

This dissertation develops a new design approach, named Strategic Design for the Short-term Future, through integrating transitions theories and strategic design studies. The new approach demonstrates its anticipatory strength as well as operational effectiveness in order to pre-empt future adverse results. To build theory for guiding design practice, two case studies involving renewable energy transitions and sustainable aquaculture transitions are conducted. Focusing on the short-term future posits an alternative design approach to a different transitions challenge – that is, design against reverse salients.

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