Welcome to Back to the Land 2.0 / 2022 

We would like to welcome you to this international course about reconnecting Urban and Rural communities by exploring Food Systems through sustainable Co-Creation. The course will investigate ways to enhance food culture and security by exploring local food systems that connect aesthetic, artistic, social, ecological, and economic factors together.

 During the course, you will be introduced to different design approaches that focus on food and relationships.  The sustainable leadership methods from ‘Theory U’ (Scharmer, 2016) are applied throughout the entire course both on-line and on-site with an emphasis on care and the aim to transform complex social contexts towards a more resilient state that celebrate contact between generations and cultural diversity. 

The course includes a live workshop week, in the rural village Hjulsjö in the middle of Sweden where students, partners, experts, and course leaders from Sweden and abroad, share their experiences and adapt models and approaches to the situation at hand.

The course leaders are

Course leaders:

  • Cheryl Akner Koler professor in Aesthetics in the design program will lead the course in collaboration with:
  • John Thackara, a world – known design expert on sustainability development and social innovation.
  • Annika Göran Rodell, lecturer at Örebro University, Campus Grythyttan School of Hospitality, Culinary Arts and Meal Sciences expert U-Theory leadership methods.   
  • Corina Aknerindustrial designer and founder of VÄRT food labs in Goteborg, expert in food waste.
  • Anna Maria Orrù, associate professor in design ecology and expert in biomimicry.  

We represent these 4 clusters; 

– Food Systems / Place  
– Aesthetics / Haptics /Food waste 
– Sustainable leadership / Social field practice                                                                                                        – Arts / Biomymicry

Before and after the live workshop week, the course involves distance work through WorkPlace (WP), zoom and MIRO and the course webpage.

Here is a brief outline of the course:

Introduce yourself – make a short video (max 2 min) in your local environment that gives a feeling for where you live; and share with us, in a few words, what motivated you to apply to this course. We suggest that you end your video by sharing a local food experience. Upload the video on the WP before June 20th; there you can also find films where the teachers present themselves. You will be invited to join the WP a few days before the course starts. We will also be using MIRO whiteboard so please explore the MIRO tools also.

Start Up On-LINE – Tuesday June 21 we all get together on zoom at 16:00 CEST for a two hour informal meeting. This meeting will introduce you to the course program, leaders and participating students.  Before joining the meeting, please look through the Video of the participants that have been posted on WP so you get a feeling for the other participants.                                                                                          

Here are the seven on-line sessions we run before and after the workshop week. We expect you to join all of these seven sessions. The Zoom link will be posted on WP.   If for some reason you are not able to attend, please send an email to inform us of your absences.

Five ‘Soil to Soil’ Labs sessions include activities in nature, communities and the kitchen. They run from 10:00 – 13:00 CEST. These sessions are hosted by one or more of the course leaders and will prepare you for the workshop week.

  • June 27th Monday at 10:00-13:00 Check in + Soil lab
  • June 29th Wednesday at 10:00-13:00 Farm lab
  • July 1 st Friday at 10:00-13:00 Process lab
  • Aug 1 st Monday Check in  10:00-13:30 Eating lab
  • Aug 3 st Wed at 10:00-13:00 Digesting lab

Efter the workshop week

  • Aug 22th Monday 10:00 – 12:00 Check in for one hour, plus sign up for individual support with course leaders. 
  • Aug 25thThursday 16:00 present an outline & keyword for assignment 3 and end with a nice glass of wine/cold water with some haptic appetizers. 


  • Assignment 1– Explore a local food system that is one you either respect or are critical of. Visit the place and people so you are directly in contact with the social and physical aspects of this food system. Prepare an informative poster that maps out the system as such and your own local or regional relationship with it.  Some examples can be found on John Thackara’s reading list, for ex: Farm-to-Fork Food Hubs; Connecting schools and farmers; Nature-friendly farming; Regional grain and fiber sheds etc. 

Upload the poster on WP by August 9th before 13:00 and send the poster to this email: backtotheland@konstfack.se. We will print the posters and use them in the first board meeting at Hjulsjö. The theme of your poster will be your way to present your interests & motivations.

  • Assignment 2– Workshop week Aug 10- 17 This week is the most intensive period of the course! It involves a collective living situation for a 6 days at Hjulsjö village on the  countryside in the middle of Sweden. Transportation to Hjulsjö is arranged by Konstfack, see workshop week for details. The campsite is across from the Mission House so bring a tent and sleeping bag for your outdoor living. Participants will investigate food system resilience, on-site by carrying out local studies, interest board meetings, dialogues, and tutorials. You will work with local and external food experts such as:  agro-forestry, eco farming, ecological ranching, food waste and biomimicry.   The course is structured around the five stages of the Theory U-process, a model founded by the Presencing Institute. The different stages involve: active listening, meditation, system awareness, journaling/mapping, performative activities.   

Participants will also carry out communication, knowledge exchange activities during the week, with a focus on the co-creation of collective meals whose content, process and form express ecological and sustainable perspectives. A local and national Swedish perspective will be shared in relation to insights from our international participants who will be encouraged to propose practices from their own cultures that can be adapted locally.      

Images from our last workshop week in 2019

FOOD PLAN – all meals will be covered by participants at a cost of 90 €. To support a sustainable, collaborative, and affordable week, we encourage all to take part in this shared food plan for                      3 meals:             Basic breakfast      –     Simple lunch   –        Amazing Evening meals

ATTENTION! please bring snacks, fruit and bread for pauses. 

New ways to re-connect the city with the land will be a core theme: Ways that are part-time, but long-term; ways that involve an exchange of value, not just paying money; ways in which land, knowledge, and equipment are shared in new ways; ways based on the re-discovery of historical links between town and country – but reinvented in an age of networks and social innovation.

Each morning we gather to participate in common routines such as: preparing and sharing breakfast each morning and introducing Theory “U” lead by Annika Göran Rodell, followed by a unique program designed for each day. Course leaders and invited experts will introduce activities to be carried. John Thackara’s recent experience in China is on the agenda as well as Food Labs, led by Corina Akner (VÄRT) and Cheryl Akner Koler and will be offered in which haptic sense, touch and other non-verbal forms of communication are used in a variety of taste and meal experiences.  Anna Maria Orrú will give students on-line support in artistic ways to explore design ecology and biomymicry. 

We will work with these local partners during the workshop week: Lantliv Hjulsjö -Ellen & Rudy Eco Ranch, Magnus/Märta Westling- Hjulsjo 130, Eco Garden & Christina Schaffer – AgroForestry.

  • Assignment 3 – Reflection: You will summarize your experiences from the on-line sessions, assignment 1 and the workshop week. Each student refines these experiences according to their own perspective, skills and long-term interests for themselves and for the community. The format for this assignment is a poster and text that will be uploaded to MIRO. We will meet on-line after the workshop week to support this process and end in a social gathering to share ideas for the poster’s and key concepts for headings and text.

By the end of the course – with its readings, activities, and collective living and learning experiences   students will have experienced:
– new ways to think about food and food systems; 
– new ways treat and cook food that enhance haptic attributes  and use food waste;                                     – how to be as well as what to do, in a food system context; 
– who you need to connect with – and how, – in order to intervene in a food system;
– how to reflect, in your journey ahead, as well as how to take action.

If you have other questions send an e-mail to backtotheland@konstfack.se

Take care from the course leaders,                                                                                                                 Cheryl Akner Koler, John Thackara & Annika Göran Rodell, Corina Akner and Anna Maria Orrù.


A homepage section

Workshop week/ August 10th- Aug. 16th

Here is a brief outline:

Workshop week will be held in the rural village Hjulsjö 3 hours north west of stockholm. We leave Stockholm on Wednesday August 10th and leave Hjulsjö Tuesday August 16th.  

The Workshop Week is on location at Hjulsjö. This is a unique and thriving cultural-ecological community. The Workshop Week involves hands-on explorations of sustainability approaches, food issues, and design skills through lectures, tutorials, and design tasks. This will take place in connection with the local environment and with local partners in the region. 

TRANSPORT: From Stockholm to/from HJULSJÖ. Where is Hjulsjö? map

Round trip BUS: This option is strongly recommended – it will be the most direct option! We will arrange a free of cost roundtrip bus from  Stockholm city Hall (Statshuset) to Hjulsjö and back. If you book a seat for one way inform us if you will be on the Stockholm to Hjulsjö or Hjulsjö to Stockholm route.If you have any problems call  John Thackara mob. +336 21 77 83 19, John will be on the bus. If you don’t connect with John call  Cheryl Akner Koler mob. +46 70 279 83 76 

COST- KONSTFACK covers the cost of the BUS trip. (If you chose another form of transportation you cover all your costs.)

WHERE: The Stockholm City Hall  (Statshuset) a 5 min walk from the Stockholm Central train station                          The Bus is parked by the water front at Norr Mälarstrand 1 


Stockholm to Hjulsjö – Wednesday August 10th at 12:55 the buss will be parked from 12:40 so please come no later than 12:45.   ARRIVE: Hjulsjö Missions house  at 16:00 

Hjulsjö to StockholmTuesday August 16th at 13:00  ARRIVE: Stockholm is 16:00 Send an email to backtotheland@konstfack.se to secure a seat. (Please inform us as soon as possible if you will be taking the bus.)

BY CAR: (see map)   all cost are covered by the student. If you arrive early give us a call at +46 70 279 83 76 so we can meet up and get you settled. 



The entire workshop week is shaped by the 5 stages of ‘Theory U’ model as we explore sustainable food systems from both rural and urban perspectives.

  • Suspending judgment
  • Redirecting: embodied meditative and performative activities,
  • Letting go
  • Letting come: mapping
  • Enacting activities that make tangible connections to intangible experiences.
  • Embodying

Each day offers a variety of opportunities to meet participants, course leaders and local partners /experts. 

We begin each day with a shared breakfast followed by a collective group practice in a circle. The day ends with the co-creation of a meal and the collective meal experience that activates our senses and gives time to enjoy and reflect on the taste of each course. The meal experience gives content, process, and form that express ecological, aesthetic and sustainable perspectives with a local and national profile.


When we meet in a TASTER DINNER by sharing a Taste experience that expresses the diversity of the students/ leaders. We ask everyone to prepare a Taste of their culture & context, enough for at least a spoonful for each participant.  It can be anything that you can make that has a unique flavor and tactile/ haptic experience that is vegetarian. Do not prepare food that needs to be heated or requires any extra preparation. Keep it simple so we don’t have congestion in the kitchen. 

Please prepare a statement that about ingredients (vegetarian), the name of the food and your name. 


Food waste meal making with haptic and tactile cooking methods,

Local experts knowledge and experience in:

  • eco-gardening 
  • agroforestry
  • ranching

Our partners and invited guests are welcome to join our collective meal where we serve food products from Hjulsjö and the surrounding area. 

When the bus arrives, put your taster at the missions house. Sett up your tents at the camping area, have a stroll around the premises, become familiar with the facilities, etc. Our first gathering will be at the local Missions House (across from the campsite) in the evening around 6 PM (18:00), with a mingling activity and a ‘potluck /collaborative tasting’ dinner. 

If you arrive earlier call the course leaders +46 70 279 83 76 and inform them of your arrival time. You can set up your tent and help out.

Where is Hjulsjö? map


The  Missions House is our main location for meals & meetings.   


CAMPGROUND (The cost for camping is covered by Konstfack)

The campgrounds are across the street from the Missions house. The grounds and facilities are run by Elin Mulderij who drives  Landleva Hjulsjö a family sheep ranch, cafe and camping center.

There are other alternative places to stay in the village, however, you will have to cover the costs your self.  Link to:  farmhouse , youth hostel , more on MTB website

Contact person: Ellen Mulderij Email: <landleva@gmail.com>  http://www.lantlivisverige.se/


The summer in Sweden can be hot in the day however in August it could also rainy and chilly, especially in the evenings. Many activities of the course will be outdoors. Bring:

Clothes:  Raincoat and waterproof boots, warm wool sweater, lots of socks, long pants and a knitted hat to sleep in. Summer clothes, swimsuit, sandals, sports shoes etc.                                                               

More stuff: towel, flashlight, ecological shampoo and toothpaste, mosquito repellent, thermos, water bottle.

Ticks – there are ticks in Hjulsjö so you should check yourself regularly (each day). Ticks are possible carriers of Borelia – so be careful.

CAMPING EQUIPMENT  Please bring your own TENT, air mattress /thick pad and a  WARM sleeping bag for at least minus 10 degrees!  At the end of August, the evening temperature can fall under minus degrees in this area. During the last workshop, some participants brought summer sleeping bags and literally froze every night.

Shower  & WC Outdoor sink for preparing lunch

Toilets  & showers    

  • Dry toilets in the red cabin (above photo) across the street from the camping area
  • WC’s in the Missions house
  • WC’s and showers at Motion center  (showers require a cost,  paid at the cafe)

Bathing, sauna  & showers    Bathing and washing in the lake by the campsite and swimming area is highly recommended! This is a classic Swedish tradition. Bring your own ecological soap and shampoo. There is also a wood-fired Sauna available by the lake, close to the campsite.  Showers: camping facilities & Motion center.


Electricity  There is electricity at the Missions house, cafes and at the motion center.

FOOD PLAN  during the HULSJÖ WEEK  (see menu FoodPlan) 

Local cafe Here are some cafes that may be open: ( however they may have limited service.) 

Lantliv cafe is a small shop/kiosk/café at the campsite where you can buy ecological jams and products and some very basic essentials.

Hjulsjö 103 cafe Next to the campsite

Motions Center café  in the village across from the church

Recap of links


Bankomat and withdrawing cash: There is no money withdrawal at Hjulsjö. Regular credit/debit cards can be used for most things.

Alcohol:  Alcohol can only be bought in Sweden at the national stores called Systembolaget.There is no Systembolaget in Hjulsjö, so you must bring alcoholic drinks with you if you wish.

Shops: Nearest Bank, Grocery, Systembolaget, clothes or other shops are at Hällefors or Kopparberg 

Valuables: There are no lockers i.e. do not bring jewelry or other valuables!


Check for more important changes that will be updated on the homepage 

Send questions to  email: backtotheland@konstfack.se eland@konstfack.se

General Program: will be updated a week before the course starts. 

Wednesday  ARRIVE






Tuesday LEAVE 


The course is run from Konstfack’s  DIV Institute; Design, Interior design, and Visual communication. Course leader: Konstfack-Cheryl Akner Koler, Professor in Aesthetics at Konstfack, University College of Arts, Crafts and Design, in collaboration with John Thackara who is our international expert in food systems, and Annika Göran Rodell an expert in sustainable leadership and will be facilitating the U-theory process.  Annika is from Örebro University, Campus Grythyttan School of Hospitality, Culinary Arts &Meal Science.

John Thackara, a world–known design expert on sustainable development and social innovation & director of Doors of Perception. For more than thirty years John Thackara has traveled the world in his search of stories about the practical steps taken by communities to realize a sustainable future. He writes about these stories online, and in books; he uses them in talks for cities, and business; he also organizes festivals and events that bring the subjects of these stories together. John will be working with an economic them in relation to food systems. We recommend reading his book: How To Thrive In The Next Economy and his previous book was the best-selling In the Bubble: Designing In A Complex World. John organizes conferences and festivals in which designers and social innovators share knowledge.

Link to John’s   twitter

  Cheryl Akner Koler (course leader) is a sculptor, design educator, and Professor in Theoretical and Applied Aesthetics at Konstfack since 2001. She teaches a sculptural gestalt approach that involves embodied studies, aesthetic abstractions, and product semiotic.  She held a 4-year guest professorship at Campus Gryhyttan, School of hospitality, culinary arts, and meal science at Örebro University where she worked with the culinary artist in developing their profile in aesthetics and haptics. Cheryl is also the main project leader of the HAPTICA project; a 3-year research project funded by the Swedish Research Council.  Some aims of the HAPTICA project are: 1) Offering insight into the complexity of human haptic perception through following artistic researchers in how haptics can drive the aesthetic gestalt process. 2) Exploring ways to bridge haptic pathways through our hands with haptic experiences of smell and taste through our nose and mouth. Cheryl’s homepageHAPTICA website Email: Cheryl.Akner.Koler@konstfack.se and Mob: +46702798376

Örebro University, Campus Grythyttan School of Hospitality, Culinary Arts &Meal Science, The unique academic, multi-disciplinary profile brings together professional and academically merited culinary artists with long experience in the aesthetic gestalt process as well as researchers from the learning & life sciences.  We collaborate with

  Annika Göran Rodell a lecturer in hospitality, culinary arts, and meal science at Campus Grythyttan, Örebro University, an expert in sustainable leadership and founder of sångshyttan art. She is involved in developing course structure that follows the Theory U process.   Annika is a performance artist with years of experience in orchestrating creative events and conferences. Her multidisciplinary background with studies in meal experience knowledge and hospitality, expressive arts therapy, pedagogy, and leadership contributes to wide-ranging research interest,  with an aesthetic foundation. She is also a central member of the HAPTICA research team working on a three-year project in collaboration with Konstfack, funded by the Swedish Research Council.  Email: Annika.Goran-Rodell@oru.se / Mob: 070 333 41 48

  VÄRT is a sustainable food lab/design studio that runs team-building events, workshops, education, lectures.  For the past 4 years, we have been a strong force in Gothenburg exploring methods that are a little unconventional where we use food waste as a tool to understand circular economy and sustainability. Corina Akner is the founder of VÄRT and will be supporting us in food labs based on VÄRT design approach and haptic experiences. Corina is a designer with a focus on inclusive designVÄRT https://www.vartsweden.com/

Anna Maria Orrù work is embedded in biomimicry and nature-inspired design. Everywhere in her practice, she looks to provide solutions to tackle the climate emergency. Based in Sweden and Italy, she holds a PhD in Architecture & Artistic Research from Chalmers University of Technology (Wild Poethics – exploring relational and embodied practices in urban-making’  2017). She is a guest associate professor at Konstfack in the Design program and lectures/ teaches at numerous Swedish Universities that include KTH and Chalmers as well as international universities and companies. As co-founder of Nordic Biomimicry, she directs the center that dedicates itself to collaborate with nature as a mentor, measure and method. In her practice, she is a mediator of sustainability, both by situating herself between academia, research, and companies and as an editor of an art-book press called Vegetable Lamb Press. To further underpin her service to ’nature’, she is a beekeeper and takes care of a biodynamic vineyard and olive grove.


Main local partners are:

  Ellen Mulderij & Rudy Hobbenschot run their family sheep ranch in the heart of Hjulsjö.  They have been key partners in generously supporting the Back to the Land 2.0 summer course. They have been our main support in working with the hjulsjö community, making it possible to adapt the missions house to our needs as well as arranging camping facilities and lodging.  They will share their ranching lifestyle with us and work with a group and other members of the hjulsjö community to create the main meal experience for the village feast on Friday.

Landliv www.landleveninzweden.nl/

    Magnus  & Märta Westling work together on their conservation cultivation project and Hjulsjö 103 cafe.  Magnus is Ph.D. student at Örebro University, Campus Grythyttan School of Hospitality, Culinary Arts &Meal Science. Magnus will share his eco gardening knowledge with us and lead a group in exploring the taste and haptic experience of Swedish heritage food, starting with a humbly grey pea. His  PhD-project is to develop gastronomic design combined with using sensory evaluation on the basis of cultivated diversity in order to evaluate traditional varieties functioning in culinary practices and meals. Both Magnus and Märta seek to investigate the gastronomic potential of traditional food varieties.  Their approach enables us to learn about environmental sustainability, meal culture, craftsmanship, traditions, and biodiversity in food production and consumption from the discussion table to the dining table. Link https://www.hjulsjo103.se/

Christina Schaffer   has one foot in academia, with a background in Systems Ecology, and has 18 years of experience of inter- and transdisciplinary environmental studies, and is now a part time teacher on sustainable development and urban agriculture at Stockholm University. She has also a practical background in organic farming and entrepreneurship. Lives part time in Kopparberg (close to Hjulsjö) practicing small scale farming for self subsistence purpose which includes growing of fruits, nuts and vegetables, sheep farming and bee hiving mixed with a lot of harvesting from the surrounding forest. She is inparticular interested in applied agroecology and has created a forest garden as a part of a national pilot research project at Örebro University. This became a platform for her own PhD project which includes the exploration of the possibilities for edible forest gardens in urban areas. She is one of the initiators of the urban agriculture community in Stockholm, with experience from starting up several gardens. She is also interested in science communication and has been involved in exhibitions such as “Manna” on our food systems dependency on natural ecosystems, “Tipping Points” at Kulturhuset , Stockholm, and she has designed the urban garden “Odla Staden” ongoing at Naturhistoriska riksmuseet, Stockholm.

Thank you for introducing yourselves (assignment 1a) to one another and to the teaching team. NOTE: If your information is missing on this page: follow