Meta-Sustainable-UX: Designing Compelling Arguments for Low-Carbon Design

Jen Briselli

While most of us in the SustainableUX community need little convincing that climate change is a phenomenon we must care about, most of us have also very likely interacted with folks who do not share this concern. We often assume that people who don’t share our attitudes toward climate change are generally uninformed, or worse, misinformed— if only we could just explain the facts clearly and make a compellingly rational argument, everyone would accept what we already know to be true.

Unfortunately, that’s not how risk perception works. Research consistently shows that simply giving people more information does not persuade them— it may even polarize them further, depending on whether that information threatens or affirms their values and social identity.

This talk will explore how four archetypal world views influence perception and provide strategies for communicating with (and persuading, when necessary), those folks across the worldview-aisle. You’ll walk away with a little extra ammo for those conversations with clients and coworkers who don’t necessarily see eye to eye on the value of your low carbon digital design efforts.


Jen’s first love was science, but while earning her physics degree she fell in love with the challenge of communicating as much as she loved researching. She spent several years designing learning experiences as a physics teacher, then earned her Master of Design degree from Carnegie Mellon University and is now the managing director of experience design at Mad*Pow in Boston.

She considers herself a researcher, strategist, and storyteller, more than a problem solver, because she dislikes framing every design opportunity as a problem to be solved. Her design philosophy is less about solving people’s problems for them, and more about building the tools, environments, and circumstances that enable people to improve their own lives. This includes a lot of time spent straddling the intersection of human centered design and science communication— studying how design thinking can influence more environmentally sustainable attitudes and behaviors.