Only a handful of institutions offer formal programs in engineering and design for global development. (We’ve mapped out many of those programs on our Professional Development page.) Though they are few, or maybe because of that fact, they have an outsized effect on the future of the field. A look at how they take on that responsibility today could reveal the future work that will make a difference in the lives of the world’s poor. And ranging even further into prediction, thinking about tomorrow’s educational systems themselves could give us a crystal ball of educated guesses.
Impact Design Hub launched a series that has taken on both kinds exploration in its first two installments.
The future of design education
Common threads run throughout the 12 pithy statements. There are several mentions of the shift in how we pay for things and manage them, from top-down, government-financed big development programs of the last century to the rise of crowd-funding, social enterprise and non-profits. Design education in the future will have to contend with those changing rules.
“Students will need to become developers – identifying the funding and resources to realize their own projects,” Rachel Minnery, Director of Built Environment Policy at the American Institute of Architects, writes.
As developers, the world’s future designers may have to navigate the two worlds, bridging the old model with the new.
“While top-down tended to alienate communities, street-up often excludes the institutions that provide legitimacy, capital, and expertise for large, sustained projects. By 2025, a new impact design curriculum will address this tension, writes Chris Kasabach, Executive Director of the Watson Foundation.
At the same time, students will have to know how to break out of the silos of their respective disciplines.
“The boundaries between design disciplines, and between students and working professionals will dissolve, leading to integrative learning systems. Through this combination of business knowledge and interdisciplinary flexibility, designers will find themselves in a unique position to facilitate and build self-managing organizations in an entrepreneurial way, writes Jacob Mathew, CEO of Industree Foundation and Industree Skills Transform Pvt Ltd.
Back to the present
Then IDH brings the series back to the present with a thoughtful look at the new African Design Center. Its founder, Christian Benimana, explains what is African about the education and hints at its potential.
“ADC isn’t about creating something that’s generically ‘African’; this is a movement to instill change in and from Africa, not just in the built environment but in how we see Africa and who deserves what in Africa. We want to change Africa and make it better, not make something ‘African’ – and hopefully the world will learn from that.”