‘…we are currently situated in a posthuman convergence between the Fourth Industrial Age and the Sixth Extinction, between an advanced knowledge economy, which perpetuates patterns of discrimination and exclusion, and the threat of climate change devastation for both human and non-human entities…’

Rosi Braidotti (2019)

The Lab

The Young People’s Sustainable Futures Lab is a collaborative research lab for co-designing young people’s sustainable futures in times of crisis and disruption.

The crises and disruptions at the convergence of the 4th Industrial Revolution and the Sixth Mass Extinction are amplified as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold.

The starting point for this initiative is situated in our concern with, and for, young people’s well-being, and their education, training and employment pathways in these unfolding crises.

From this starting point, YPSFL aspires to develop place-based partnerships for young people’s futures that are disruptive, transformative and shaped by shared visions for social and climate justice, inclusion, and difference and diversity.

Ethical Innovation

In pursuing approaches to building sustainable futures for young people, we draw on the principles of ethical innovation. Across much of the world today, innovation is increasingly recognised as a key driver of economic growth and social progress. However, not all innovation is underpinned by an ethical commitment to sustainability, equity and inclusion, and to addressing pressing social and environmental problems. Lauren Rickards and Wendy Steele, researchers at the Centre for Urban Research at RMIT University, suggest that ethical innovation has four core principles. Ethical innovation is:

  1. Responsible – anticipatory and precautionary
  2. Inclusive – collaborative and systemic
  3. Disruptive – bold and impactful
  4. Engaged – democratic, purposeful

Principles of co-design

In our work with a range of stakeholders we utilise co-design approaches. Co-design is an approach to the development of programs, projects or services that actively involves all stakeholders in the design process. When stakeholders and end users are included as equal partners in the design process, the outcomes and products of that design process are more likely to generate real social impact and to be tailored to end users’ needs. The NSW Council of Social Service (NCOSS) suggests that for co-design to be effective, it needs to be:

Inclusive – Co-design works in partnership with the users or consumers of the program, product or service.

Respectful – Efforts are made to engage all design partners on equal terms and to seek their input as part of a democratic process.

Participative – Co-design uses a series of conversations and activities where dialogue and engagement generate new, shared meanings based on expert knowledge and lived experience.

Iterative – Ideas and solutions are continually tested and evaluated with the participants.

Outcomes focused – It is designed to achieve an outcome or series of outcomes, where the potential solutions can be rapidly tested, effectiveness measured and where the spreading or scaling of these solutions can be developed with stakeholders and in context.