Plenary Session

Information on the Plenary session held on Thursday 19th of May at 9:35-11:00.
Indigenous knowledge systems and sustainability transitions

This plenary session explores how Indigenous Knowledge and First Nations could play a leading role in progressing sustainability transitions.

Sustainability transitions in both theory and practice have arguably come to an impasse. With the prospect of global climate warming beyond 1.5 degrees the situation is now critical. Despite decades of policies addressing sustainability in socio-technical systems, at different scales, structural problems still remain. Many scholars have called for new systemic boundaries that bring together human culture, nature and the hon-human. Sustainable urbanists have sought to model urban phenomena as complex systems. Systems transitions are often seen to be solved through processes of participation and co-design. Creative processes across the environmental humanities have also been seen as a way to find new alternatives.

How might traditional knowledge and indigenous practices overcome our current impasse? How are the scales, boundaries and complexities seen in Indigenous Knowledge systems relevant to sustainability transitions? How might the knowledge of traditional authorities shape the governance of co-design? How might a new politics of sustainable transitions be created?

This plenary session will explore these questions by bringing together Indigenous and traditional scholars and those working together with Indigenous people.



Dr. Hanna Ellen Guttorm works as a senior researcher at the University of Helsinki focusing on Indigenous studies and is a member of Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Sciences.

She has revitalized the language of her father, Northern Sámi, and works also as part-time Associate Professor in Sámi Teacher Education at the Sámi University of Applied Sciences in Guovdageaidnu/Kautokeino, Norway. She is also chair of Dutkansearvi – Sámi Language and Culture Research Association and editor-in-chief of Dutkansearvvi Dieđalaš Áigečála.

Dr. Reetta toivanen is a Professor of sustainability science, with a focus on indigenous sustainabilities, at HELSUS, University of Helsinki. She is also Vice-director of the Centre of Excellence in Law, Identity and the European Narratives (EuroStorie).Toivanen has broad interdisciplinary experience (especially from anthropology, law, linguistics and political theory) and has used multi-sited ethnography as her main research method. She has conducted ethnographic research in Germany (Sorbs, Friesians, Roma and Sinti), Estonia (Russians, Seto and Roma) and Finland (immigrant language teachers and pupils, Sámi and Roma).

In addition to the academic work, has conducted national and international commissioned research tasks for, for example, the IOM, EU Commission, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Consultancies, Ministry for Social Affairs and Health and Ministry for Education and Culture, Finland.

Dr. Pedro Pacheco-Vásquez, Campus Monterrey, School of Architecture, Art and Design, Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico (Central America)

Dr. Pedro Pacheco-Vásquez, is associate professor at the Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM) and co-founder of Ten Houses for Ten Families (10X10), an educational and research program oriented to helping low-income families in urban Monterrey to build housing and community. This generic housing delivery model is being promoted at local, national, and international forums to address sustainable housing and community issues. Dr. Pacheco has extensive experience in community development and is promoting a sustainable research agenda in the educational context. He is a member of several committees at the local and state levels promoting appropriate technologies in the construction industry.

Maddison Miller, Research Fellow in Ecological Knowledge of Country, Ecosystem and Forest Sciences, University of Melbourne, a Darug woman (Australia)

Maddi is a Darug woman whose research looks at ways of knowing Country. She is interested in ways of bringing non-Indigenous and Indigenous sciences together to understand and care for Country, particularly through storytelling.



Dr. Rochus Hinkel and Dr. Peter Raisbeck  Melbourne School of Design, The University of Melbourne, Australia

Dr Rochus Hinkel and Dr Peter Raisbeck explore the pressing issues of our times, from social injustice to overconsumption, from climate change to the effects of capitalism through the conversation series Politics and Utopia in Architecture. Together with ethnographers, environmentalists, indigenous elders, activists, architects, historians and philosophers, they have reflected on learnings and lessons for architects and designers, and as citizens of a globalised world. Conversations so far include: Decolonising the Design Studio, Knowing the Anthropocene, Indigenous Knowledge System, Knowing the Anthropocene, Shaping Future Societies.  Conversations have taken place at the 2021 and 2022 Melbourne Design Week, the National Gallery of Victoria as well as online on YouTube at Melbourne School of Design