The future of Sustainable Design Education

We were recently at 100% Sustainable at Earls Court, and saw an inspiring presentation of the DEEDS (Design Education and Sustainability) project, which was introduced by Alistair Fuad-Luke. Set up to promote sustainable design (SD) education to educators and professional designers, Fuad-Luke explained they are developing on-line tools for teaching and learning which include a glossary of SD terms, methodologies which can be shared and a space for contributors to develop 'pods', which are open-source, web-based case studies of inspiring SD stories. The aim is to get teachers and designers contributing and feeding back into the project so that SD can become fully integrated into design education and into the design industry in the EU.

Anne Thorpe, who wrote the The Designers Atlas of Sustainability, has posted her thoughts on the future of SD education on her blog Design Activism. Thorpe talks of the need for SD education to become broader in how it views eco or green design and to suggest to students more diverse models of design practise which may include working for social enterprises or public agencies.

Thorpe also believes that the latest trend is around 'social innovation' and that we are going to see a shift toward exploring how design can facilitate relationships and social capital, rather than just designing objects. But the question for education is what kind of training do designers need to understand and enhance social innovation? These are questions which SD educators are just starting to ask now, and here at the TED project we have been asking the question of how the textile deisgner can be a social 'activist'.

Talking of 'design activism', Alistair Fuad Luke, who is the author of the well known The Eco Design Handbook, also mentioned that he is currently writing a book on this theme - seems to be the new buzz term within design.