Leapfrogging Sustainable Development: Exploring the Strategic Futures of Production and Policy through Cosmo-local and Commons-based Design

Two aspects of my life are coming together for the first time. My work with a number of collaborators (Michel Bauwens, Sharon Ede, etc) to conceptualize and articulate cosmo-localism, plus my work over the past decade to meld foresight and action through action research approaches. The result is a course on cosmo-local design. We will use anticipatory innovation processes to develop cosmo-local strategies that can address development challenges in new ways, through a new lens.

In the spirit of cosmo-localism, I’m making all the content for the course open access, so anyone can adapt, facilitate and teach it in whatever locale is desired. More post to come with content.

Thanks to Raji Ajwani, Prof. Shishir Kumar Jha (Indian Institute of Technology) and Michel Bauwens (P2P Foundation) for making the connections to make this course happen.


20-21 Sept 2019
Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai

A new way of thinking is emerging for developing strategic pathways for local to planetary economic and ecological viability. This way of thinking centres around the ideas of “peer to peer production”, “the commons”, and “cosmo-localism”. This course will give participants emerging strategies to address critical development challenges using new cosmo-local and commons-based production strategies and thinking. Cosmo-local development describes the process of bringing together our globally distributed knowledge and design commons with the high-to-low tech capacity for localized production and self-organization. It augurs in an era in which the legacy of human creativity is at the disposal and service of those with the most needs, and in which our systems of production can be sustained within planetary ecological boundaries.

Over 15 cases will be presented on a variety of topics and themes, including:

– Examples in agriculture, for examples Farm Hack, Le A’terlier Paysans and FarmBot
– Examples in manufacturing, including Open Motors, AbilityMade and OpenROV
– Examples in medicine and health, including Fold-it and the Open Insulin Project
– Examples in housing construction, including Hexayurt and Wikihouse
– Examples in the circular economy, including Precious Plastic
– Examples in urban development, including Fabcity and Ghent city as commons
– Examples in water management, including Hack the Water Crisis (Stop Reset Go)
– Examples in crypto-programming, including Holochain
– Examples in disaster response, including Field Ready

The course is run in the format of ‘action learning’. This means that participants will form into groups (5-8 people) based on topics that are meaningful to them, and will engage in a problem solving (anticipatory innovation) process through-out the course. Participant will be introduced to the key ideas and guided through the problem solving in a step by step format, so that the ideas are applied in the context of real development challenges. The course is a unique offering combining anticipatory innovation and systemic futures design thinking that will give participants renewed leverage in generating ideas for positive social change.

Objectives of Course:

– Learn from 15+ examples and cases
– Learn concepts in
– Peer Production
– The Commons
– Cosmo-local production
– Understand cosmo-localism as both
– A seed form that can be applied and scaled from social enterprise
– A political economic vision which provides new policy pathways
– Develop networks and connections with others that carry forward momentum
– Develop process skills in applying these models in the context of specific development and organisational challenges

Expected Outcomes of Course:

– A new set of concepts and understanding for development
– An understanding of how these strategies are applied
– A set of examples and cases that clarify how they function
– Ideas developed in the workshop that can be carried forward into the world
– Inclusion in an extended network of people interested in these new development strategies
– A cosmo-local production design canvas that will provide a template for applying the ideas elsewhere (this will be a simple to use canvas that can be printed in an A2 or bigger paper that will be linked to the course content)

The course is being run by Dr. Jose Ramos (Action Foresight), in conjunction with Prof. Shishir Kumar Jha and Raji Ajwani (Indian Institute of Technology – Mumbai) and Michel Bauwens (P2P Foundation).

Workshop Schedule

What is cosmo-localism?

Cosmo-localization describes the process of bringing together our globally distributed knowledge and design commons with the high-to-low tech capacity for localized production. It augurs an era in which the legacy of human creativity is at the disposal and service of those in need within ecological planetary boundaries. It is based on the ethical premise, drawing from cosmopolitanism, that people and communities should be universally empowered with the heritage of human ingenuity that allow them to more effectively create livelihoods and solve problems in their local environments, and that, reciprocally, local production and innovation should support the wellbeing of our planetary commons.

“Cosmo-localization is a new paradigm for the production and distribution of value that combines the universal sharing of knowledge (cosmo), but the ‘subsidiarity’ of production as close as possible to the place of need (‘local’), essentially through distributed local manufacturing and voluntary mutualization. The general idea is not to impede technological progress though intellectual property, in an era of climate change where we cannot afford the 20-year lag in innovation due to patents; and to radically diminish the physical cost of transport through local production. Cosmo-localization is based on the belief that the mutualization of provisioning systems can radically diminish the human footprint on natural resources, which need to be preserved for future generations and all beings of the planet.” Michel Bauwens

“what is light (knowledge, design) becomes global, while what is heavy (machinery) is local, and ideally shared. Design global, manufacture local (DGML) demonstrates how a technology project can leverage the digital commons to engage the global community in its development, celebrating new forms of cooperation. Unlike large-scale industrial manufacturing, the DGML model emphasizes application that is small-scale, decentralized, resilient, and locally controlled.” –Vasilis Kostakis and Andreas Roos, Harvard Business Review

Links to cosmo-localization:

Peer Production and the Commons

From redistributive urban commons to cosmo-local production commons

Cosmo-Localization And Leadership For The Future

Click to access J5.pdf

Cosmo-localism and the Anthropocene