Workshop: Leapfrogging Sustainable Development: Exploring the strategic futures of production and policy through cosmo-local and commons-based design. By Jose Ramos, 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
  1. Peer Production
  2. The Commons
  3. Cosmo-local production
  • Understand cosmo-localism as both
  1. A seed form that can be applied and scaled from social enterprise
  2. 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).

About the presenter

José Maria Ramos is interim research coordinator for the P2P Foundation, director of the boutique foresight consultancy Action Foresight, is Senior Consulting Editor for the Journal of Futures Studies, and is Senior Adjunct Professor at the University of the Sunshine Coast. He has taught and lectured on futures studies, public policy and social innovation at the National University of Singapore (Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy), Swinburne University of Technology (Australia), Leuphana University (Germany), the University of the Sunshine Coast (Australia) and Victoria University (Australia). He has over 50 publications in journals, magazines and books spanning economic, cultural and political change, futures studies, public policy and social innovation. He has also co-founded numerous civil society organizations, a social forum, a maker lab, an advocacy group for commons governance, and a peer to peer leadership development group for mutant futurists. He holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature, a Masters degree in Strategic Foresight, and a Ph.D. in critical globalisation studies. He has a passion for the coupling of foresight and action, which has included both theoretical work through published articles, consulting work for federal, state and municipal governments, as well as citizen experiments in methodological innovation. He is originally from California of Mexican ancestry. Born in Oakland, he grew up in a very multi-cultural suburb of Los Angeles. After living in Japan and Taiwan, where he studied Japanese and Mandarin, he moved to Melbourne Australia to be with his wife, De Chantal. They have two children, son Ethan and daughter Rafaela. His other great passion is in considering who we are as planetary beings, which includes his ethnographic study of alternative globalizations, writings on planetary stigmergy, and research on cosmo-localization. This line of work connects him to the truth that we are all brothers and sisters inter-dependent with our planet and each other for our survival and wellbeing – our shared commons.

Workshop Schedule

Module Activities DAY 1

Day one (morning)

Deep dive into p2p / cosmo-local ideas and examples.

15+ case studies and examples from around the world

Content: Farm Hack, Le A’terlier Paysans and FarmBot, Open Motors, AbilityMade and OpenROV, Fold-it and the Open Insulin Project, Hexayurt and Wikihouse, Precious Plastic, Fabcity and Ghent city as commons, Hack the Water Crisis (Stop Reset Go), Holochain, Field Ready


Day one (afternoon)

Presentation of principles of cosmo-local production and commons based development.


  • The theory of the p2p economy.
  • Foundational concepts.
  • The theory of commons governance.
  • Foundational concepts.

Lectures followed by discussion and Q&A.

Open discussion on participant reflections.

Dive into some of issues and challenges people are grappling with. Break into groups and begin to explore the nature of the problems and issues that they are facing.


Day two (morning) Re-articulation of the key ideas and then groups jump into practical and applied group work.

Content: The anticipatory experimentation method (AEM) steps 1-2

Identify the “used future” and develop a preferred future


Day two (afternoon)

Developing the proposal, articulating ideas to solve the local issues and problems, and developing ideas for real world experimentation.


  • The anticipatory experimentation method (AEM)

steps 3-4

  • Ideating solutions and real-world experiments

Presentations and discussing next steps as a network

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

More information

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
  • Cosmo-localism and the Anthropocene

1 Comment Futures of Production Through Cosmo-Local and Commons-Based Design

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.