Designing for Sustainable Practices

Schedule and location

Monday February 10th - Tuesday February 11th.

Aalto University School of Business (Ekonominaukio 1, Espoo), room 2002


Registration is open until January 31st.


Assistant Professor Leona Chandra Kruse, University of Liechtenstein, Liechtenstein.

Professor Virpi Tuunainen, Aalto University School of Businessa, Finland.


Professor Matti Rossi, Aalto University School of Business, Finland.


Sustainability is about the synergy across people, planet, and profit. Adding digital technologies to the equation, we arrive at the idea of a sociotechnical system where humans and machines cooperate in enacting sustainable digital practices toward social (e.g., equality), economic (e.g., entrepreneurial opportunities), and environmental (e.g., reduction of CO2 emission) sustainability. But how do we design for sustainable practices?

In the workshop, we will address this question by discussing three main topics. First, we will talk about behavioral change. When people adopt more sustainable practices, they decide to change their behaviors. It is therefore important to know different views on how people make decision and how they change their behaviors. Second, we will highlight different roles of technology in a sustainability transformation and what it means when we design technology for sustainable practices. We will discuss two examples of studies on this topic. Finally, we will discuss how to communicate a sustainable design once the research is completed. Good design can go far beyond a single success story; therefore, articulating what we have learned from the process is key to communicating our conceptual and practical contributions.

The workshop is designed for doctoral students who are interested in conducting design-oriented studies in the context of sustainability transformation, in changing behaviors and practices through the design of a technology, and in communicating the knowledge gained through the design efforts. The contents will be delivered in an interactive manner with a specific focus on their applicability in students’ research projects.

Workshop Preparation

Choose a paper from a reputable journal or conference that reports on a design effort to attain sustainability-related goals through behavioral change (e.g., designing a mobile application that promotes energy saving behavior or designing an intervention to encourage donation for social causes). It can be a design-oriented paper or a meta-analysis paper that reviews published design-oriented papers.

Assignment 1: Write a one-page review of the paper including:

  • A short summary
  • The mechanisms to attain the predefined sustainability-related goals
  • How is behavioral change conceptualized in the paper?
  • How do the authors present their conceptual contribution (e.g., design theory or design principles)?
  • Strengths and weaknesses of the article
  • How could the article be improved?

 Assignment 2: Identify the main behavioral theory that are adopted in the paper (e.g., theory of planned behavior, nudging, biases, heuristics, decision making) and find a seminal work on that theory. If the paper does not explicitly refer to a specific theory, you can suggest a suitable theory and find a seminal work on that theory. Write a half-page summary of the key ideas.

Detailed Program

Day 1                                 Monday 10.2.2020

09.00 - 09.30                  Introduction

09.30 - 10.30                  Design and sustainable practices

              • Designing technology for behavioral change
              • Designing sustainable technology
              • Designing sustainable practices and business models

10.30 - 10.45                  Coffee and tea

10.45 - 12.00                  Changing people’s behavior

              • Foundations of behavioral change
              • Making sense and making decision

12.00 - 13.00                  Lunch

13.00 - 14.30                  Students discussing their selected topic

14.30 - 14.45                  Tea and coffee

14.45 - 16.30                  The roles of technology in designing for sustainable practices

              • Brief discussion on affordance
              • Different views on the roles of technology
Day 2                                 Tuesday 11.2.2020

09.00 - 10.30                  Examples of studies on sustainable design

              • The evolution of a sharing platform into a sustainable business
              • Designing sensemaking support systems for sustainability

10.30 - 10.45                  Coffee and tea

10.45 - 12.15                  Communicating your sustainable design

              • Formulating design principles
              • Framing your manuscript
              • Highlighting conceptual and practical contributions

12.15 - 12.45                  Feedback and Conclusion

Credit points

Doctoral students participating in the seminar can obtain 2 credit points. This requires participating all of the days and completing the assignments.

Registration fee

This seminar is free-of-charge for member organization's staff and their PhD students. For others the participation fee is 400 €. The participation fee includes access to the event and the event materials. Lunch and dinner are not included.