Rethinking social and sustainable innovations through prospective co-design and project-grounded research


  • Thomas Watkin University of Nîmes
  • Marie-Julie Catoir-Brisson Audencia Business School


Social design, Project-grounded research, Prospective, Social and solidarity economy, Co-design, Sustainability


How can project-grounded research (PGR) in social design makes it possible to question the creation of social relations, the emergence of forms of solidarity? Our article examines how social and sustainable innovation can integrate prospective co-design, foresight and societal fiction to offer new imaginaries of the territories. We explain how social design could invest in sustainable development and social and solidarity economy (SSE) by taking the example of the commons and community building. The first part demonstrates how social design can contribute to research in the social solidarity economy, by opening up to other research practices, like PGR, in particular through future-oriented studies and design. The second part puts social design into perspective with the practices of prospective co-design, to highlight the contribution of this approach to the fields of the SSE and sustainable development. Finally, we open up social design with a sustainable and united aim through the prospective approach, illustrated by two PGR case studies engaging prospective co-design for sustainability and to a lesser extent SSE. One case study explains how sustainable issues in rural and urban areas can find a solution in a visual tool created through a prospective codesign approach mixed with speculative design and strategic visioning. Another case study develops a co-design device in order to imagine alternative futures in a deregulated climate and environmental risks.




How to Cite

Watkin, T., & Catoir-Brisson, M.-J. (2021). Rethinking social and sustainable innovations through prospective co-design and project-grounded research. DISCERN: International Journal of Design for Social Change, Sustainable Innovation and Entrepreneurship, 2(2), 123–137. Retrieved from