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Integrating Sustainability Into Design Education

Posted in Models, Research by Rob Eales on September 9th, 2010

Source: Core 77

From “The designers’ accord educational toolkit: what does it really take to encourage sustainable practice?” by Valerie Casey:

How can we start thinking about sustainability as intrinsic part of good design, instead of an addendum? How can we embrace the potential impact of our craft to design new services, shape organizational behavior, and enable policy change, not just churn out artifacts? How can we assume accountability for what our designs influence, and not just the design itself?

These are the questions many of us have been asking constantly—and answering with only with limited success—for years. I am reminded of the confusion designers have around this topic each time I publicly speak about sustainability—the first comment from the audience during Q+A is always the same: “Tell us what to do!” We are a profession who spends our entire lives generating new ideas, challenging the status quo, and building glorious concepts from nothing, yet remarkably we are paralysed when confronted with the issue of how to meaningfully engage in the most important issue of our time.

One of the best ways we can advance our mission to practice sustainable design is to make sure the next generation of designers will graduate with a value system that reflects the new realities of our profession.

This is the challenge the Designers Accord sought to address when it started 3 years ago. The concept was simple: if designers, educators, and business leaders could openly share knowledge and experience about sustainability, we would collectively (and more quickly) build our intelligence around these issues, and then generate more innovative and world-changing ideas.

We all know that a single solution, technology, or person will not solve the humanitarian and climate change challenges we face. There is no silver bullet, but there is silver buckshot. One of the best ways we can advance our mission to practice sustainable design is to make sure the next generation of designers will graduate with a value system that reflects the new realities of our profession. With this in mind, two weeks ago the Designers Accord launched another means of sharing knowledge with the Toolkit to integrate sustainability into design education.

Read the full article by Valerie Casey on Core 77.

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