Designing for participatory visioning: HCI for reconciling sustainability visions with everyday practice in grassroots communities

Chopra, Simran (2023) Designing for participatory visioning: HCI for reconciling sustainability visions with everyday practice in grassroots communities. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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Human Computer Interaction (HCI) has been engaging with ecological sustainability issues for the past decade. Despite this, Sustainable HCI (SHCI) has primarily remained unengaged with issues of social justice, marginalisation and longitudinal change when looking at sustainable futures. My thesis responds to these challenges by engaging with the practices of grassroots communities and their ability to address ecological issues through local action. Now more than ever, designers must fully engage with the messy side of these collaborative practices as we strive to support and sustain socio-political actions to foster more sustainable ecological futures. Taking grassroots urban food growing as a context to interrogate the research praxis of SHCI, I argue for ‘place-based’ action as local, small-scale initiatives running parallel to the mainstream. An understanding of place-based action has the potential to influence sustainable practices, build community movements and develop long-term situated change, but it also presents methodological challenges. The thesis asks, ‘How can digital technologies support grassroots communities in imagining and planning, meaningful and practical actions for grappling complex and longitudinal sustainability challenges?’ The work aims to tackle systemic perspectives through case studies that respond to the material landscape of existing visioning practices in Auroville, a town in India and Research-through-Design community engagements in Newcastle, England. By exploring bottom-up future thinking using participatory speculation as a process that foregrounds citizen participation and long-term thinking as experiments-in-living, the three empirical case studies delve into visioning as an approach for community-led bottom-up food futures. Furthermore, I make three contributions, theoretical, socio-technical and methodological, to the field of SHCI; 1) theoretical: reframing visions as experiments in living; 2) socio-technical: the role of technology in sustainable futures; and 3) methodological: participatory visioning as an approach to grassroots sustainability. These learnings contribute towards the praxis of participatory visioning as a reflective, iterative and situated process for SHCI practitioners and researchers to undertake community-led work for sustainability outcomes.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: participatory visioning, sustainability, social justice, grassroots communities, food futures
Subjects: G400 Computer Science
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Computer and Information Sciences
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2023 11:40
Last Modified: 28 Mar 2024 03:30

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