Educating Youth to Design Solutions for Social Issues
When it comes to utilizing design or creative thinking to shape our society, few avenues are more direct or have more potential than reaching out and fostering a commitment to social responsibility within our schools and our children. An interesting newcomer to this form of education is Design Ignites Change, an initiative created by Worldstudio Projects and Adobe’s Youth Voices, which promotes and encourages high school students to use design thinking to solve real world problems. Fostered through a mentoring program which pairs creative professionals or university organizations with area high schools, the projects address a range of issues from diversity and hunger, to homelessness and gun violence. Each project is highlighted on the initiative’s website, and selected groups will receive financial grant awards in the form of student tuition or project funding. Design Ignites Change is also an interesting way of introducing creative fields as a career path for young people, and instills early the myriad possibilities to use it to approach social issues.
Youth outreach is also an integral part of the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP), a Brooklyn-based organization started in 1997 dedicated to making educational projects about places and how they change. We recently sat down with exiting Executive Director, Rosten Woo, a design historian and advocate for the demystifying of public policy. CUP approaches education from a number of directions, matching artists, designers, videographers, and urban planners, with community- or issue-based organizations, and youth groups. Masters of matching the right trifecta (artist/cause/school), CUP enables the production of research and design projects that engage students and effectively serve the community.
“Our work grows from a belief that the power of imagination is central to the practice of democracy, and that the work of governing must engage the dreams and visions of citizens. CUP believes in the legibility of the world around us. What can we learn by investigation? By learning how to investigate, we train ourselves to change what we see. “
By not just speaking at, but working with youth groups, projects like these hope to spark a lifelong interest in creatively serving the public good.