Design for Sustainable Co-Creation, 7,5 credits (Summer course 2021)

Back to the Land 2.0: Reconnecting Urban and Rural through Food Systems

Course leader: Professor Cheryl Akner Koler

Back to the Land 2.0 is an international multi-disciplinary design course about reconnecting urban activities with rural activities as one way to enhance food culture and security. Using a collaborative creative learning platform for preparatory work, and in a live week shaped by the Theory U process, students will learn together with national and international experts and local partners engaged in food systems.

Updated information Covid 
In past years this course was based on a combination of distance learning and a week of on-site learning at the live workshop in August. Last year the entire course took place online. We are still not sure about the current situation with Corona, so we will inform you about how the course will be run by mid June. 

From our on-line experience last year we have now added more opportunities to meet on-line (zoom), once a week for an hour from the course start in June -August 5th. The on-site week-long program at Hjulsjö community offers hands-on experiences in which we craft and test small actions that can effect change in larger cultural, economic and ecosystems. Our work will touch on such as issues as soil fertility and biodiversity; new notions of ecological & economic value. The collective meal making and sharing will be focused on exploring tactile & haptic aspects of food experience design that include working with food waste and creating meal rituals.

Practical lessons will include the social or economic actions that support sustainable hubs in rural and urban situations, and how we can engage and share in ecological location-based sensory experiences connected to meal experience. We will explore how aesthetic driven design activism can stimulate positive changes in ecological and social-cultural systems.

This course is driven from Konstfack DIV Design program:

Lead by Cheryl Akner Koler, professor in theoretical and applied aesthetics.

And is given in partnership with:

  • John Thackara, a world - known design expert on sustainability development and social innovation and the director of the organization Doors of Perception. Read more at:
  • Annika Göran Rodell, lecturer at Örebro University, Campus Grythyttan School of Hospitality, Culinary Arts and Meal Sciences expert U-Theory leadership methods. Read more at:

With local partners:

Hjulsjö village community

Magnus Westling

Christine Schaffer

Food waste partner:


Course content
The students are introduced to different approaches to design for sustainable development that address a live issue regarding food systems. In the course the students will investigate ways to enhance food culture and resilience by supporting local food systems that connect aesthetic, social, ecological and economic factors.

With the help of leading international and national experts and research leaders, the student will be given the opportunity to develop various design collaborative initiatives with due regard to local contexts and issues.
The course includes a live workshop in a rural local community in Sweden. Students, teachers, experts and other participants both from Sweden and abroad share their experiences and apply different models and methods that have been tested in local environments.

The course is planned around three parts:

  • Part 1. Start up meeting on June 21 at 16:00 - 18:00 followed by preparatory work at a distance with weekly Monday meeting on zoom from 10:00 - 11:00.
  • Part 2. A collaborative workshop week at Hjulsjö. The workshop includes exploration of sustainability in cooperation with local partners, to create collective meals, meetings and tutorials.
  • Part 3. Individual reflection and further development of the assignment aimed at connecting people living in cities with those in rural countryside. What you will do Back Home.

Student quotes:

 “I will try bring with me the essence and the soulful experience i felt in hjulsö, as in the total experience with it’s different micro parts and try to imbibe that message through and in the different projects and endeavours i will take in life.”

 The most valuable practical lessons I’ve learned from the workshop was actually to see you all three teachers leading and organizing the days together with a lot of warmth, trust and openness towards each other, the chef and towards us as students. It was rewarding for my own leadership to see how you worked things out all along the workshop.”

“There were two rituals that I really appreciated and those where about active listening and meditation.”

More information about the course:

Intended learning outcomes
Upon completing the course, the student is expected to be able to:
– describe and discuss design ideas, activities, prototypes and personal standpoints in dialogue with different groups.
– identify emerging models and platforms for shared value exchange between rural and urban communities.
– explain and combine the question "what is?" with "what if?", based on the social and ecological resources in a specific place.
– apply the three listening abilities described in "Theory U", i.e. to listen to others, to themselves and to what arises from the collective.
– cooperate with others to create common meal experiences, from the preparation of
the meals to serving with a focus on haptic perception.

Entry requirements
– At least 150 credits in design, within the field of Art, Crafts and Design (including architecture and culinary art), or
– At least 150 credits in natural sciences/humanities related to the themes of food systems and sustainability,
– Equivalent professional experience related to the themes of food systems and sustainability.

Additionally, proficiency in English equivalent to Swedish upper secondary school course English 6, is required.


The selection between eligible applicants is based on applicants' letter of motivation and an overall assessment of the academic qualifications and work experience within  sustainable developement and the field of design / art.

Academic qualifications and design related experience, experience of interdisciplinary projects, food related projects/work experience are assessed.

Course period: 21 June - 29 August 2021
Study pace:
50% of full time studies
Corse Code: DIF005
Course syllabus: DIF005 Design för sustainable co-creation 7,5 hp.pdf
Course syllabus in Swedish:
DIF005 Design för hållbart samskapande.pdf
Language: The course is taught in English
Maximum amount of participants: 30


How to apply!

When applying to this course at Konstfack you submit an online application to the Swedish central application website ( for Swedish speaking applicants), and upload supporting documents.

- submit qualifications to support the entry requirements
to ( for Swedish speaking applicants).

For the selection you should upload:

- 1 CV where you list your education and experience related to sustainable development, design and the theme of the course, such as; experience in interdisciplinary projects, food related projects/work experience (maximum 1 A4 page).

- 1 Letter of motivation (maximum 1 A4 page) to ( for Swedish speaking applicants).