Prathima Muniyappa and David Colby Reed present at 6th Biennial Design Science Symposium: Inclusive Narratives from Nature


Prathima Muniyappa

 Prathima Muniyappa

September 21, 2019
2:30pm — 3:00pm ET

The Edna W. Lawrence Nature Lab at RISD, Fleet Library at RISD, and Synergetics collaborative are pleased to announce the 6th Biennial Design Science Symposium: Inclusive Narratives from Nature, an event exploring multiple approaches to sustainable/nature-inspired making, community development, and other work that facilities a holistic relationship with nature and natural systems.

This upcoming event will showcase how, through multiple cultural lenses, the design science framework can address the complex, real world problems we face today. It aims to incorporate various cultural perspectives, knowledge systems, ways of relating to nature, and creative problem solving.

This year’s themes include:

Ways of Knowing
Current and Future Communities
Rebuilding Solidarity in Nature
Equitable Technology
Narratives—Valuing Cultural Inclusion

Join us for a symposium that will share and challenge what we know and question our preconceived notions of what human-nature relationships, sustainability, and innovation look like.


Sylvan Synesthesia: A Non-Dualistic Agenda for Design
Location: Old Library

In investigating traditional indigenous knowledge, practices, and folkways, this talk assumes complete synergy between the constructed categories of "nature" and "culture," and leverages the philosophy of non-duality as an operational paradigm. It achieves this synergy by investigating identity as an ecological manifestation.

In seeking exuberant manifestations for life, the environment explores through its inhabitants, creative conditions for change. Indigenous cultures often adopt a "dwelling perspective," morphologically and morpho-genetically generating landscape, that emerges from a dialogue with the local environment. Their "human mind" is an ecological entity that takes on the role of reflexively redefining the ecological identity of environments from within.

This talk explores how the design practice can operate from a state of immanence, through a non-dualistic approach.


David Colby Reed


Extraterrestrial Dictatorship, or Democracy?
Location: Room 12

What might life be like for human beings living and working in an environment in which the essentials of life (such as oxygen and water) will be produced through capital-intensive, algorithmically-mediated industrial processes undertaken by private actors? Today, national space agencies and private actors are preparing to build human habitations and mining operations on the Moon and on Mars. To access materials on these and other celestial bodies will require concentrated capital, coordinated technology development, and, once missions have been launched, tight operational controls. Furthermore, the emerging property rights regime that will determine the incentives of future spacefarers favors first-movers. The features of these future space activities suggest that those activities will be undertaken by very wealthy entities and individuals who exercise control through system and algorithm design and the accumulated effects of path dependencies.

Authoritarian social relations would appear to be the likeliest arrangement, for it is difficult for a free society of equals to take root in a context in which surveillance is total, government is private, and, due to the hostility of the space environment, noncompliance with authorities is lethal.

How might we imagine alternative patterns of social relations? What scope is there for democratic government in our future space economies and habitations? This talk will first outline the forces that militate in favor of authoritarian government and social relations. It will then suggest a reframing of property rights in space oriented around the principle of relational equality among spacefaring humans. It will conclude with a call with practitioners across a variety of fields to consider how they might architect equity into future space systems.


Jacob Lawrence x David Colby Reed



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