Learn!2050 and Design Futures

LESSONS LEARNED TEACHING DESIGN FUTURES

Arnold Wasserman, Peter Scupelli, & Judy Brooks
Collective Invention | Carnegie Mellon University

1.     Introduction

This paper explores how we might redesign education to face the challenges and opportunities of a sustainable future. Increasingly, designers operate within ever-broader contexts (e.g., technological, social, political, environmental, global). Design for sustainable futures requires the ability to envision longtime horizon strategic scenarios driven by forces likely to shape change in broader contexts. Traditional pedagogy poorly equips designers to integrate long-range strategic thinking with current human-centered design methods.

We present two interlocking projects: LEARN! 2050 and Dexign the Future. Please note the term dexign was introduced to indicate an experimental type of design. The LEARN! 2050 scenario describes design pathways from today to a new learning landscape in the year 2050. Dexign the Future, a course integrating Futures Thinking with Design Thinking, was introduced in the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University in fall 2013 to a mix of third year undergraduate and graduate design students.

Students learned to engage strategic longtime horizon scenarios from a generative design perspective.

Lessons learned led to a three-semester sequence teaching design methods for longtime horizons aimed at transitioning towards sustainable societies. The sequence includes: Dexign Futures Seminar, Introduction to Dexign the Future, and Dexign the Future. The Dexign Futures Seminar is an online module that teaches students to critique and deconstruct existing futures...read more.