Background and activities

Current (2022)

After having focused on various other topics within Design for Sustainability, and having had a long stint as Head of Department, and thereafter Vice Dean for Research and Innovation, I am currently mostly interested in societal narratives about different aspects of sustainability. It is fascinating to discover how they affect our behaviour and make (or prevent) that we behave sustainably, socially and healthy.

My current projects include:

  • Design and Shame (a project with PhD student June Kyong Trondsen). This is an explorative project which intends to understand the role of shame, awkwardness, embarrassment and other negative self-conscious emotions in people’s daily lives, and how this understanding can contribute to more environmentally friendly, social and healthy behaviour
  • Narrating Sustainability (https://narratingsustainability.wordpress.com/). This is a cross-faculty NTNU internally funded project together with colleagues from the Department of Language and Literature and Department of Psychology.
  • HolE-LIB – Developing a Holistic Ecosystem for Sustainable Repurposing and/or Recycling of Lithium-ion Batteries (LIBs) in Norway and EU. https://www.ntnu.no/sustainability/calls/repurposing-recycling-batteries-by-holelib. This is another cross-faculty NTNU internally funded project, where we focus on consumer and market research to understand customer acceptance of repurposed end-of-life batteries in various household/home/cabin application contexts.
  • SCORE: Supporting Circular ecOnomy thRough Education. This is an ERAMUS+ project in which we will develop learning materials and platforms to promote circular economy education focusing on the 15-19 age group in order to incite sustainable behaviour changes.

Background and past PhD projects

With a master’s degree in Applied Econometrics from Erasmus University Rotterdam, and a PhD degree in Industrial Design Engineering from Delft University of Technology, I worked as an assistant professor in the Design for Sustainability Program at the Industrial Design Engineering School, TU Delft, the Netherlands, until 2006. In 2004, I was a visiting professor at the International Institute of Industrial Environmental Economics at Lund University, Sweden.

In these years, my research interests included the organisational and managerial aspects of successful implementation of sustainable product innovation in the electronics industry, as well as sustainable product innovation research and education. Before that I belonged to the first wave of ecodesign researchers that focused on end-of-life issues for electronics.

As of January 2007, I am professor in Design for Sustainability at NTNU’s Department of Design. My research interests broadened and more specifically started to include the use phase. The research in my group has since then mostly focused on Design for Sustainable Behaviour and Practices, by trying to understand how designers and firms can be facilitated in exploiting opportunities, both environmental and commercial, that may exist in designing products and contexts that make users use products in a sustainable way (or avoid that they use them in an unsustainable way). My PhD students and I aimed to integrate insights from interaction design, science and technology studies, stakeholder analysis and environmental psychology in developing research protocols to collect empirical information on users' behaviour, attitudes, habits, beliefs, as well situational contexts, and to carry out practical experiments and develop design concepts. Case studies, both descriptive and explorative, have been done with firms including Philips, Jøtul, Electrolux and Glen Dimplex Nordic.

Several PhD students work/have worked on this: Ida Nilstad Pettersen (defended in 2013), Johannes Zachrisson Daae and Kirsi Laitala (both defended in 2014), Marie Hebrok and Sofie Østergaard (both defended in 2019).

However, I did not abandon my original research interests in the managerial aspects of ecodesign implementation. I co-supervised two PhD students in this field (Elli Verhulst and Silje Aschehoug, both defended in 2012). Elli researched how addressing human factors such as resistance and empowerment facilitate or complicate a sustainable design implementation process based on case studies in eight firms. Silje researched the availability, relevance and accessibility of information sources, which are relevant to sustainable design and manufacturing. Her work was based on case studies in the Norwegian automotive and furniture industry.

From 2015 jointly supervised two PhD students together with Dr. Niki Bey (Technical University of Denmark) as part of a cotutelle agreement. Faheem Ali and Raphaëlle Stewart both defended their dissertations in 2019), after successfully researching various themes related to implementation of design for sustainability and sustainable business modelling. As a result, they both received a double degree from NTNU and DTU.

From 2017 I participated in the Horizon2020 EU Marie Curie ITN CIRCUIT, a training network of 15 PhD students across 7 universities in the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, France and the UK, aimed at designing circular economy-based product-service systems. In this project, we were responsible for the end-use perspective, focusing on user understanding and how to use this in CE based PSS development, as well as how to communicate this back to user. Juana Camacho-Otero and Lucy Chamberlin defended their dissertations in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

In April 2017, PhD student Saara-Maria Kauppi started her doctoral research as part of an ERANET-LCA cofunding project, focusing on designing food products based on insects and insect-protein, based on true understanding of user perspectives.

In the past I have also supervised Bijan Aryana (defended in 2013), his research explored design for country-specific customisation of smart phones, in collaboration with LG Electronics.

In my Delft years I have also co-supervised PhD research on topics such as ecodesign management, probing and learning in the fuel cell industry, and sustainable packaging design.

I am also affiliated to NTNU's Industrial Ecology program; In the academic year 2008/2009 I acted as interim director for this multidisciplinary international master, PhD and research program.

From 2013-2017, I was Head of Department for the Department of Design. From 2017-2021, I contribute to the Faculty of Architecture and design as Vice-Dean for Research and Innovation.

 

Scientific, academic and artistic work

Displaying a selection of activities. See all publications in the database

Journal publications

Books

  • Boks, Casparus Burghardus; Sigurjónsson, Jóhannes B.; Steinert, Martin; Vis, Anne Carlijn; Wulvik, Andreas. (2016) Proceedings of NordDesign 2016. The Design Society. 2016. ISBN 978-1-904670-80-3.
  • Boks, Casper; McMahon, Chris; Ion, William; Parkinson, Brian. (2010) When Design Education and Design Research meet... Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education, NTNU 2-3 September 2010. The Design Society. 2010. ISBN 978-1-904670-19-3.

Part of book/report