Future of Education Conference Paper

April 25, 2024 3:17 PM

Peter Scupelli is presenting a paper titled “Design Education Alternative Futures: Climate Disaster, Artificial Intelligence, and DEIBJ?” at the 14th Future of Education International Conference in Florence, Italy on June 19-21.


How engaged should design education be with the unfolding Climate Disaster, Artificial Intelligence, and DEIBJ (diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and justice)? Is the next generation of designers prepared to lead the zero-carbon transition? Second, what role might Artificial Intelligence (AI) play in design education? Thirdly, what does engaging with topics such as design for the pluriverse, decolonizing design, and DEIBJ practically involve? I explore a 2x2x2 cube of possibilities with three axes: Climate Disaster engagement, technological change, and DEIBJ—eight alternative futures result. Future 1 is the “business as usual” design education. (e.g., no meaningful engagement with AI or Climate disasters). Future 2 is the “high-tech status quo” (e.g., engagement with technology such as AI but not Climate Disaster). Future 3 is “Sustainable Luddite” design (e.g., Engagement with Climate Disaster but ignoring AI and technology). Future 4 is “AI for Climate Emergency,” using advanced technologies to engage with the zero-carbon transition and social innovation. Futures 5-8 emerge, adding the DEIBJ to the four futures mentioned. In this paper, I describe a survey conducted with faculty, staff, and students at the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University. The first set of questions probed the personal outlook on the future ten years out and the perceived agency on such futures. The second set of questions asked about interest and engagement with emerging topics. The third set of questions asked about the comfort and frequency of teaching emerging issues. Close to two-thirds of all participants thought they could impact the future in ten years (half of which thought the future would be worse, and the other half better). Close to one-third of participants said the future was worsening and that they could not improve things. Most of the faculty said they were comfortable teaching emerging topics. Regarding frequency of teaching, it was surprising to note, that SDGs and zero-carbon lifestyle transitions were in the “rarely “and “sometimes” taught range. DEIBJ frequency was between “sometimes” and “a good bit.” In contrast, decolonizing design and design for the pluriverse were in the “sometimes” range, suggesting that university and college leadership motivate faculty teaching frequency.

Keywordsdesign education, climate change, AI (artificial intelligence), DEIBJ (diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, justice)
References[1] Alexander, B. (2023) Universities on fire: higher education in the climate crisis. Johns Hopkins University Press.
[2] Faludi, J., Acaroglu, L., Gardien, P., Rapela, A., Sumter, D., & Cooper, C. (2023). Sustainability in the Future of Design Education. She Ji The Journal of Design Economics and Innovation, 9, 157–178. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sheji.2023.04.004
[3] Staley, D. (2019) Alternative universities: speculative design for innovation in higher education. Johns Hopkins University Press.
[4] Noel, L.-A., Ruiz, A., Van Amstel, F., Udoewa, V., Verma, N., Botchway, N., Lodaya, A., & Agrawal, S. (2023). Pluriversal Futures for Design Education. She Ji The Journal of Design Economics and Innovation, 9, 179–196. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sheji.2023.04.002
[5] IPCCC (2024) https://www.ipcc.ch/reports/    

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