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PHD-DESIGN  March 2008

PHD-DESIGN March 2008

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Subject:

Sustainability Initiatives

From:

Ken Friedman <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Ken Friedman <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 22 Mar 2008 15:39:25 +0100

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Friends,

The current thread on sustainability initiatives at universities and 
design schools caught my eye. It seems to me that more is taking 
place than may be visible. There are three reasons for this.

First, we don't all seem to know about what others are doing -- or 
what they have achieved.

Second, many design programs addressing sustainability take place in 
schools and faculties of engineering, informatics, computing, or even 
medicine. For example, Eli Blevis works at a School of Informatics, 
while University of Melbourne's VEIL (Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab) 
project is located within the Australian Centre for Science, 
Innovation and Society.

Third, many projects are inter-disciplinary. They take place 
"outside" design schools and programs altogether, yet we participate 
as full partners with other actors.

One useful innovation would surely be an inventory that allows us to 
find out what is going on, where, and how.

Two broad initiatives deserve a note.

One is the Changing the Change conference

http://emma.polimi.it/emma/showEvent.do?idEvent=23

Ezio Manzini, Jorge Frascara, and others have structured a conference 
around a few crucial factors. The key recognition is that most of us 
know the problems that we face -- but we have not found a way to 
generate the social and cultural change we need if we are to address 
these problems. Changing the Change is about HOW we change as well as 
about WHAT we need to do.

What I find inspiring and realistic about Changing the Change is the 
understanding that we must reshape our cultures and ourselves to 
reshape our future. To bring change about, we must change the way we 
change. A visit to the web site will interest anyone concerned with 
these topics.

The other key initiative is The Designers Accord.

http://www.designersaccord.org/

This program allows participating organizations to make a real 
contribution by engaging in clear, direct actions for local 
improvement that add up to large-scale social change. The Accord is 
an initiative developed by Valerie Casey of IDEO to encourage design 
firms and designers in a simple, actionable sustainability program by 
educating clients, improving design processes, reducing wasteful 
resource use, and eliminating harmful outputs.

Many design firms -- and now, manufacturers -- have adopted the 
Accord. When I became dean at Swinburne Design, we also adopted The 
Designers Accord. When we did, I was startled to learn that Swinburne 
Design is the first design school in the world to adopt the accord, 
and the first organization of any kind in Australia to do so. We are 
now working to enroll others in this important project. Again, this 
site is worth a visit.

Before closing, I'll share what we are doing at Swinburne Design to 
become more sustainable and what we are doing to promote 
sustainability. In defining out strategic goals for the years leading 
up to 2015, we chose three key issues as a frame of reference: 
sustainability, research, and globalization. (Like it or not, 
globalization is a frame -- the HOW of how we globalize is what makes 
the difference.)

Unlike our colleagues in Brisbane, we do not have a specific master's 
program. Nevertheless, we continually develop units on 
sustainability, embedding them in the curriculum. Industrial Design, 
Interior Design, and Product Design incorporate sustainability in 
design studios, using sustainable design methods such as life cycle 
assessment. We also offer undergraduate and postgraduate units on 
systems and service design for social, economic, and environmental 
sustainability as a university-wide elective.

Over the next year, we expect to make several senior appointments 
focusing on different aspects of sustainability. One area where our 
new staff will play a key role is in helping us to reshape our 
master's degree programs. As we do, you can expect to see units and 
perhaps a complete program. As dean, I am concerned with fundamental 
change for long-term improvement, so this means that I work with 
colleagues and staff to build things carefully and durably. One 
aspect of sustainability is ensuring that the programs we are 
themselves serious and sustainable, and I want to ensure that what we 
build lasts. I am fortunate to have the full support of the entire 
university in this -- the Chancellery and my fellow deans are all 
working together  with us on these issues. We will succeed, not 
simply as a design faculty, but as a university.

Swinburne Design actively supports other university programs. This 
includes participating in The National Centre for Sustainability and 
playing a role in Swinburne University's participation in the 
Sustainability Covenant of the Victoria Environmental Protection 
Agency. Swinburne is committed to learning, teaching, and research 
for sustainability while building a sustainable workplace.

We have one important challenge that is both a great opportunity and 
a serious responsibility. We are planning a new building for our 
urban campus. We need a building that meets a complex range of needs 
to function as a major urban campus center while working sustainably 
and contributing to a better neighborhood. We have been bench-marking 
excellent design schools to see what the best have done in late 20th 
century buildings. Professor Roger Simpson of our faculty is working 
with experts from around the world to learn what a 21st century 
design faculty building should be. It will take us half a decade to 
get it built, and when we do, we want to build it well.

One thing we have learned in our bench-mark studies it is that many 
design schools and universities are concerned with these issues, in 
curriculum, in studio work, in research, and in how they do the job 
of running a school. I think an serious inventory would reveal many 
good programs in place and under development around the world.

We're committed to pursuing these issues at every level. We have much 
to learn, and we have something to share.

Lars Albinsson added a nice tag to his note, a quote from Alan Kay: 
"The best way to predict the future is to invent it."

I'm happy to add that these thoughts are not simply my ideas. They 
are a statement of policy for Swinburne Design, and they reflect a 
comprehensive commitment to sustainability at Swinburne University of 
Technology. We're doing our share to invent the future, and I think 
that's true of others here.

-- 

Ken Friedman
Professor

Dean, Swinburne Design
Swinburne University of Technology
Melbourne, Australia

email: [log in to unmask]
email: [log in to unmask]

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