Welcome to Back to the Land 2.0

The aim of this international course is to introduce an approach to design for sustainable development that addressed a live issue regarding food systems. The course will investigate ways to enhance food culture and security by developing local food systems that connect aesthetic, social, ecological and economic factors. It is run from Konstfack University college of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm Sweden in collaboration with John Thackara and Örebro University, Campus Grythyttan School of Hospitality, Culinary Arts and Meal Science. (see partners)

Design proposals will be developed collaboratively using the social technology and process method Theory U (Scharmer, 2016).  Theory U is a proven approach to design interventions that are intended to transform complex contexts (such as food) towards a resilient state. This work is rooted in an understanding of local context and issues, and is achieved with input from leading national and international experts /research leaders.

The course includes a live workshop, in a rural region of Sweden, in which students, partners, experts and teachers from Sweden and internationally, share their experiences, and adapt models and approaches tested in other contexts.

Before and after the  live workshop week, the course involves distance work through email and the course webpage.

We have organised the course around these three activities: 1)  Preparatory activity, 2) Workshop week on site and 3) Refection:

1,  Preparatory activity has two assignments and is to be done individually. It involves watching videos,  reading key texts on approaches to design within systems based on an understanding of ecological and social assets and the collection and selection of relevant case studies. Participants will prepare a design study in one of their own local food systems and present this in a poster format that can be shared and communicated. The work is done at a distance, course materials are provided digitally and assignments are submitted digitally.

2, Workshop Week involves  meet together for a one week workshop at Hjulsjö village on the  countryside in Sweden. 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 and food waste.

The course  will be structured around the five stages of the Theory U-processa model founded by the Presencing Institute. 

The different stages  involve suspending judgement, embodied meditative and performative activities, poetic reflection, journaling, mapping and other activities that make tangible connections to intangible experiences.

Participants will also carry out communication, affirmative feedback and 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  insight from our  International participants who will be encouraged to propose practices from their own cultures with the potential to be adapted locally.

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.

3, Reflection 

This work is done at a distance following the live workshop assignments are submitted digitally for examination. Student review and critically reflect on the methods learned and /or proposals developed during the workshop week. Each student refines these experiences according to their own perspective, skills and long-term interests for themselves, the participants and for the community. The teaching team will provide 1:1 feedback in writing, and/or by Skype about these reflections.

Course Syllabus  (PDF) english 

Course Syllabus (PDF) Swedish 

Check  the  Menu tab: Assignment  

click on  assignment 1 and read about the Preparatory work including introducing yourself. 

Check the Menu tab:  Transport, Food plan & Handbook

for more information 

Click link to POSTER pdf. Back_to_the_land_2018.02.25EPoster+

END of HOME page




To contact the teaching team email: backtotheland@konstfack.se

Answers to your frequently answered questions will be posted on this Course Website under the FAQ link 2017.05. 30


Åsa Öström is professor in Culinary Arts and Meal Sciences at Campus Grythyttan, Örebro University. She conducts research projects in sensory science concerning the interaction of food and drink as well as consumer preferences. She is currently involved in the national project called:

Smake Sverige = Taste Sweden (smakasverige.jordbruksverket.se) where she works in  a multi-disciplinary team  studying how taste is a multifaceted concept that combines experience with all our senses with how we value these experiences in relation to the context and cultural awareness. Öströms position at Grythyttan is in coordinating research in a multi-disciplinary team as well as teaching sensory studies to cooks, sommelier and create event designers.

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the archive shows material from the course in 2017
























Hjulsjö workshop


This  live week workshop in Hjulsjö village, will be shaped by  the different stages of the Theory U process:

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

The entire workshop week focus on how the stages of Theory U support a co-creation of collective meals whose content, process and form express ecological and sustainable perspectives with a local and national Swedish profile. We will be sharing insight from our International participants who will be encouraged to propose practices from their own cultures with the potential to be adapted locally.

Each day offers a variety of opportunity to meet with course participants, course leaders, local partners and our village neighbours. We begin each day with a gearshift and shared breakfast and end each day in a collective meal making event that have these different themes :

Sharing a Taste experience  that expresses diversity of the students/ leaders,

Food waste meal making with haptic and tactile cooking methods,

Local experts knowledge and experience in:

–   eco gardening 

–   agroforestry


Village Feast, a collective meal for our neighbors and partners where we serve food product from Hjulsjö and the surrounding area.



Arrive at 16:00. Bring your Taster  to the missions kitchen /window bar. There will be tea and coffee with fruit at the window bar to land and relax .  Check out the surroundings and sett  up your tent.                                                                        The Taster starts around 18:00 at the missions house.  You first meet in pairs and explain  what you have made. Then each pair tastes  each others taster  …. Finally everyone tastes everyones taster and start to mingle, eat and drink. Take as small spoon first so there will be “Lagom ” enough to go around.

We then gather in a circle inside the missions house to learn each other names, go through the week program, practical issues and close with a lecture by John Thackara.













 This page will be updated with all collborating members and partners by August 12th  

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  Örebro University, Campus Grythyttan School of Hospitality, Culinary Arts &Meal Science, Annika Göran Rodell is an expert in sustainable leadership and will by facilitating the U-theory process. John Thackara is our international expert that will be with us during the week workshop at Hjulsjö and active in the online assignments.

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 realise a sustainable future. He writes about these stories online, and in books; he uses them in talks for cities, and business; he also organises 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 organises 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 researcher 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. 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 is an lecturer in hospitality, culinary arts and meal science at Campus Grythyttan, Örebro University and expert in sustainable leadership.  She 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 a wide-ranging research interest,  with an  aesthetic foundation. She is also a central member in the HAPTICA research team working on a three-year project in collaboration with Konstfack, funded by the Swedish Research Council.  Annika’s profile in the project is about developing pedagogical methods in order to deepen the sensory sensitivity of the professional hotel and restaurant staff. She is also involved in developing courses in Theory U process. Email: Annika.Goran-Rodell@oru.se / Mob: 070 333 41 48

   VÄRT is sustainable platform that gives workshops on how to  work and learn about vegetarian food waste in order to create tasteful and meaningful meal events and conversations around the topic.  The kitchen in the missions house well be organised around  ways to minimise and optimise food waste.  Corina Akner is the founder of VÄRT and will be supporting us all in the kitchen as well as create a number of meals based on VÄRT philosophy. Corina is a designer with focus on  inclusive design  . She recently established the company VÄRT is a waste rescue project that offers workshops that pivot around preparing amazing food experience from raw food waste materials collected from wholesalers and stores.  https://www.vartsweden.com/


Main local partners are:

This section will be updated with more information about partners august 12th 

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.

  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 need as well as arranging camping facilities and lodging.  They will share their ranching life style with us and work with a group and other members of the hjulsjö community to create the main meal experience for the village fest on friday.

Landliv www.landleveninzweden.nl/

    Magnus  & Märta Westling work together on their conservation cultivation project and Hjulsjö 103 Inn.  Magnus is PhD 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  gastronomic potential of traditional food varieties.  Thier 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/




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