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118 | Design Politics in the Climate Emergency

Kian Goh is an Assistant Professor of Urban Planning at the University of California Los Angeles whose research focuses on the intersections of ecological design, spatial justice and climate change. Goh’s work is known for centering racial and social justice within the climate change conversation. As we move from ‘climate change’ to ‘climate emergency,’ designers must confront that the effects of climate change and climate disaster are disproportionally distributed, with the world’s poor and already marginalized bearing the brunt of climate effects.

118 | Design Politics in the Climate Emergency

Goh’s teaching and advocacy encompass these different ways of examining climate change – not as a technological problem, but as a social one. Across the world, we find that the communities most vulnerable to climate change are the ones that are most vulnerable to everything else. Moreover, attempts by designers to address climate change often exacerbate the already challenging conditions in which half of humanity lives.

Kian has taught architecture, urban planning, sustainable design, and environmental studies at several leading institutions, as well as being the founder of the architecture firm Super-Interesting. Super-Interesting developed a practice model at the intersection of sustainability and social interaction, working across scales on planning, architecture and products.

Goh also writes prolifically, recently coauthoring articles on social justice and climate change adaptation in JPER and Nature Climate Change, an article on the sociopolitics of “smart cities,” a book chapter on queer activism in New York City, and an article on post-tsunami rebuilding in Indonesia in Places Journal.

We were lucky enough to be joined by Professor Goh on our podcast Social Design Insights, where we discussed how politics, design and climate change come together. Have a listen at the link above!


Our opening theme music for 2019 is "Bang Bang" and our closing theme is "Salvame" both by Eljuri from her album "La Lucha." The break music for this episode is "Mania Urbania" by Alan Price from his album "Liberty."