Beyond ‘consumer – user’: living as stewards in a circular future

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


This is a conceptual paper exploring the role of designers in moving the public from passive consumers and engaged users to active stewards of resources for future generations. The paper makes the case that the skills needed for a circular future are those used by communities of practice in the sharing economy. Results from a recent action research project undertaken by the author will be used as background for the discussion. The research explored the issues faced by library staff when planning and delivering new digital skills workshops to the public. The research team took a three-phase approach: engaging with the staff in a focus group exploring the barriers to digital skills delivery; actively observing staff during digital skills workshops with the public; and running group evaluation sessions to explore successes and failures experienced. Journals provided the researchers with insights into how some of the staff had developed their own personal learning outside the research project. The methods used produced qualitative data insights into the issues in this area and gave the participants space to develop their own solutions. This paper concludes by reiterating the importance of the role of designers in helping the public to embrace the circular economy through stewardship. Using the project discussed to frame further research into the importance of communities of practice on future resource stewardship.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2019
Externally publishedYes
EventInternational Association of Societies of Design Research Conference 2019: DESIGN REVOLUTIONS - Manchester School of Art Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, United Kingdom
Duration: 2 Sept 20195 Sept 2019


ConferenceInternational Association of Societies of Design Research Conference 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • Circular economy
  • Action research
  • Communities of Practice
  • stewardship
  • sharing economy


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