This course will introduce the various sustainability related conceptions of the innovation, development, and design of human systems with an emphasis on nature inspired andregenerative solutions. Topics will include: The role of innovation in addressing local and global challenges; Living systems principles for appropriate design and technology and; Schools of thought derived from an ecological worldview (e.g. regenerative theory, biomimicry, cradle to cradle, industrial ecology, circular economy, performance economy, etc.). The latter half of the course will be project based, providing students with the opportunity to apply living systems thinking to challenges in their communities and/or with industry partners.
Does this course carry Credit Value
Credits Value (where applicable)
Western State Colorado University, Gunnison, CO USA
Duration (Number of Hours)
Course Booking Options
Already scheduled – learners can enrol direct
Available for booking by academic institutions
Available for booking by employers
Available for booking by learner groups
Maximum Number of Students
Classroom and practical setting
Syllabus Plan – summary of the structure and academic content of the module
Week 1: Introduction to Nature Inspired Innovation
Week 2: Biomimicry and Cradle to Cradle
Week 3: Circular Economy and Industrial Ecology
Week 4: Regenerative Design, Development, and Innovation
Week 5: Design and Innovation Tools for Sustainability
Week 6: Life Cycle Perspectives
Week 7: Creative Problem Solving
Week 8: Collaborative Outreach
Week 9: Business Model Canvas
Week 10: Design Concept Report
Intended Learning Outcomes – on completion of this module, students will be able to…
● Understand how the principles of living systems can influence the design of human systems at multiple levels of application.
● Explore contemporary work related to an ecological worldview in innovation and design (e.g. circular systems, benign chemistry, life based design) vs mechanistic world view (e.g., take-make-waste systems of production and consumption, conceptualizing organizations and economies as machines).
● Discover the history and applicability of varied sustainability-related conceptions of development, design, and innovation (i.e., Degenerative – Green – Sustainable – Resilient – Regenerative).
● Study the role of the private sector in development and responsible innovation.
● Develop entrepreneurial skills in the application of innovation and design to projects and organizations.
● Identify public sector and government agency efforts to enable principles of regeneration, circular economy, and biomimicry in the management of public lands and resources.
● Identify regenerative design opportunities within students’ own professions, organizations, or projects.
● Develop a network of design professionals and colleagues.
● Gain practical and marketable skills associated with sustainability-oriented innovation and design.
● Acquire a vernacular and fluency around the concepts and practices of design in environmental management.
This course serves the following UN Sustainable Development Goals. For a fuller description of the SDGs please visit https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs
SDG 8 – Decent Work & Economic Growth
SDG 9 – Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure
SDG 11 – Sustainable Cities & Communities
SDG 12 – Responsible Consumption & Production
SDG 17 – Partnerships for the Goals
Teaching & Learning Methods
Guided Independent Study/Research
Group Project Work
Individual Written Assignment
Group Written Assignment
Written feedback to individual student
Written feedback to group of students
Key Learning Resources
Required Text: Bioinspiration In Business And Management: Innovating For Sustainability by Taryn Mead, PhD http://www.businessexpertpress.com/books/bioinspiration-in-business-and-management-innovating-for-sustainability/ Other digital texts will also be distributed weekly.
For more information about this course, please contact:
Dr Taryn Mead