Last month, we held the second part of a Design to Improve Life certification programme for 20 professors from the Universidad del Desarollo (UDD), Santiago de Chile. The collaboration began back in March, where INDEX spent a week in Santiago to train the professors to use the Compass, our main design and innovation tool.
This time, we were back to facilitate the professors through a workshop process where they would draw up plans for implementing the innovation work in their own teaching. To date, the cooperation with UDD has consisted of both physical workshops and remote facilitation from Denmark. We have given them exercises to solve with their students and asked them to describe and reflect on this work individually as well as with their university colleagues and management. This gives the professors a thorough introduction to the methodology and, hopefully, they will experience a progression in their own understanding of the innovation work. They will also become familiar with the didactic irregularities that arise when implementing the methods in their own teaching and curriculum.
Our approach to the UDD project is based on the design-thinking principles – just like all the other work we do at INDEX. UDD needed to rethink their design training and, together, we found that they should be much more focused on design-thinking, centred on interdisciplinary work, co-creation, iterative workflows, prototyping and testing.
WE haVE ALWAYS HAD A STRONG DESIRE TO CREATE CHANGE IN A SUSTAINABLE CONTEXT AND WITH THE SANTIAGO PROJECT WE SAW GREAT POTENTIAL FOR FULFILLING OUR MISSION.
In the past, Chile has been a market leader of, for example, copper mining. In addition, they export large amounts of fruits and vegetables and have had great success with salmon farming. Unfortunately, these industries have also had a negative impact on the environment. In particular, the chemicals and nutrients used in large-scale farming have become a major concern for wildlife as well as the Chile’s water quality.
Within these contexts, it makes sense to focus on educating future designers, economists, engineers etc., to think much more entrepreneurially, while training future generations to see opportunities and ideas that can provide solutions to local challenges. These strategies will also help create new business areas, generate more jobs and stabilise the environmental and social conditions in Chile.
At INDEX, we have always had a strong desire to create change in a sustainable context and with the Santiago project, we saw great potential for fulfilling our mission. Back in March, we met a group of highly motivated professors during UDD’s initial design training. But, there was also a group of professors who were very unfamiliar with the DtIL methodology, especially when came to working in workshop formats with students and being a facilitator rather than a teacher. We then had to work hard to change their view of their own roles – as this is a very important success factor. As facilitators, they had to engage in a relationship with their students where the results and answers aren not known in advance and where the content – driven by the students’ interests, ideas and competences – is the main focus of the workshops.
Looking ahead, the overall goal we have for the Santiago project is to create a DtIL mindset among, first and foremost, the design students. Then all the other students at UDD, then the Chilean labour market, the consumers and, last but certainly not least, the general population. It is a very big dream – we are very aware of this – but, when our goal is to make a difference in the world with sustainability and Design to Improve Life, we are always optimistic.