The increasingly complex world that we inhabit today and the significant social problems we face are not isolated nor suited to any particular sector or discipline. Typically, these problems can be characterised as emergent phenomena with non-linear uncertainties. Collectively, moreover, we continue to have a negative impact on some of the most important features of life that we claim to hold most dear – our planet, our society, our spirit, and our health. For example, we have an ecological crisiswhere we continue to deplete our natural capital on a massive scale will inevitably lead to food supply crises and an anticipated doubling of food prices by 2030. We have a social crisis that sees nearly 2.5 billion people on our planet living in abject poverty and a psychological crisis where 3 times as many people die from suicide as die from homicide or in wars. In 2012, an estimated 800,000 people worldwide committed suicide, and 86% of them were under the age of 70. Globally, suicide is the second leading cause of death among those between the ages of 15 and 29. Our health crisis in the UK alone will see over 80% more people aged 65 and over having some form of dementia by the year 2030 compared to 2010 and our mental health crisis in the UK sees mental health disorders occur across all regions and cultures. The most common mental health disorders are anxiety and depression, which, not infrequently, leads to suicide. Lastly, our humanitarian crisis in how we care for one another often leads to vulnerable children and adults being isolated, which results in tragedy and grief. Our social care system is in crisis. It is failing people leaving many feeling isolated, insecure, and vulnerable.
Design, however, has always endeavoured to make the world both human and habitable, as well as to generate a better quality of life through the creation of various products, services, systems, and environments. Design has always been deeply concerned with all parts of contemporary life – economy as well as ecology, travel and communication, technology and innovation, cultures and civilizations, products and services, with sociological, psychological, medical, physical, environmental, and political issues, and with all forms of social organization (Rams et al., 1991). Today, in the face of great social, political, cultural, economical, technological and ecological challenges, Design can be at the forefront of new modes of thinking, planning and doing that generate new ethical foundations for creating broader, fairer, safer, and more inclusive future visions.
On Tuesday 23 May 2017, Paul gave a Faculty of Arts Public Lecture at the University of Wolverhampton. The talk will explored how a “Design for Change” agenda will address the challenges of putting forward new, profound qualities, of creating a broader, fairer, safer, and more inclusive world that provides greater social, political, cultural, economical, technological and ecological balance between human beings and the artificial world that we all inhabit. Design as a driver of change is thus tasked with grasping these significant challenges, creatively and analytically exploring them and envisioning and realising future visions for a planet that we will all be proud to share. More information can be found here.