Paper presentation @ IDSA International Conference 2015

August 23, 2015 9:00 AM

Peter Scupelli presented a paper he co-authored with Judy Brooks and Arnold Wasserman on “Learn!2050 and Dexign Futures: Lessons Learned Teaching Design Futures” at the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) International Conference 2015 in Seattle.


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 scenarios. In the Introduction to Dexign the Future course students explore futures based themes, design methods, and research techniques. The Dexign the Future course deep-dives into a semester long project set in 2050. In summary, we provide here three contributions: first, an example of a future learning scenario set in 2050; second, a design course sequence that combines Futures Thinking with Design Thinking to create desirable design futures (what futurists refer to as Normative Scenarios); and third, lessons learned that lead to a pedagogy for designing for longtime horizon futures.

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