Back to the Land 2.0 is a master course that emerged with support from the HAPTICA project.

The aim of this international masters course is to introduce an approach to design for sustainable development that addressed a live issue regarding food systems. We will investigate ways to enhance food culture and security by developing local food systems that connect aesthetic, social, ecological and economic factors.

The course is run from Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm Sweden in collaboration with food expert John Thackara and Annika Göran Rodell from Örebro University, Campus Grythyttan School of Hospitality, Culinary Arts and Meal Science. (see partners). The HAPTICA research project, that is funded by Swedish Research Council, was instrumental in planning the way meal experiences are integrated within the entire course and the methods for supporting co-creation and hospitality.

Design proposals will be developed collaboratively using the social technology and process method Theory U (Scharmer, 2016). Theory U is a proven approach to design interventions that are intended to transform complex contexts (such as food) towards a resilient state. This work is rooted in an understanding of local context and issues, and is achieved with input from leading national and international experts /research leaders.

The course includes a live workshop, in a rural region of Sweden, in which students, partners, experts and teachers from Sweden and internationally, share their experiences, and adapt models and approaches tested in other contexts.

Before and after the live workshop week, the course involves distance work through email and the course webpage.

We have organised the course around these three activities:

1) Preparatory activity, 2) Workshop week on site and 3) Refection:

1) Preparatory activity has two assignments and is to be done individually. It involves watching videos, reading key texts on approaches to design within systems based on an understanding of ecological and social assets and the collection and selection of relevant case studies. Participants will prepare a design study in one of their own local food systems and present this in a poster format that can be shared and communicated. The work is done at a distance, course materials are provided digitally and assignments are submitted digitally.

2) Workshop Week involves meet together for a one week workshop at Hjulsjö village on the countryside in Sweden. Participants will investigate food system resilience, on site, by carrying out local studies, stakeholder meetings, dialogues and tutorials. They will work with local actors such as farmers, chefs, hunters, makers, agro-forestry, tourism operators, school teachers.

The course will be structured around the five stages of the Theory U-process, a model founded by the Presencing Institute.

The different stages involve suspending judgement, embodied meditative and performative activities, poetic reflection, journaling, mapping and other activities that make tangible connections to intangible experiences.

Participants will also carry out communication, affirmative feedback and knowledge exchange activities during the week, with a focus on the co-creation of collective meals whose content, process and form express ecological and sustainable perspectives. A local and national Swedish perspective will be shared in relation to insight from our International participants who will be encouraged to propose practices from their own cultures with the potential to be adapted locally.

New ways to re-connect the city with the land will be a core theme: Ways that are part-time, but long-term; ways that involve an exchange of value, not just paying money; ways in which land, knowledge, and equipment are shared in new ways; ways based on the re-discovery of historical links between town and country – but reinvented in an age of networks and social innovation.

3) Reflection

This work is done at a distance following the live workshop assignments are submitted digitally for examination. Student review and critically reflect on the methods learned and /or proposals developed during the workshop week. Each student refines these experiences according to their own perspective, skills and long-term interests for themselves, the participants and for the community. The teaching team will provide 1:1 feedback in writing, audio and/or by Skype about these reflections.