1 Mar
Event time in Zürich, Switzerland (CET)
Wed, 1 Mar 2023
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Designing Interactions with the Earth

When we take in the number and magnitude of threats to the survival of humans as well as countless other species, the future looks grim. As we view the array of disruptions and disasters coming at us in the rush of climate change, we are apt to lose ourselves in resignation and grief. How can we find anything positive to guide us? How might we invoke technology and agency in ways that promote healing of the earth and of ourselves? In this time of daunting challenges, what does successful transformation look like? And how can designers be part of such transformations?

Brenda often reminds design students that “We can’t design from despair.” A corollary is: “hope is an active verb.” In the developments and inventions examined in this talk, we will see how hope is an essential ingredient. That doesn’t mean that everything has to be a success. When design ideas don’t work as we’d imagined, we reflect on our “interesting failures” and learn. And then we move on.

How does the planet feed 8 billion people in the face of the pollution and habitat destruction caused by industrial farming of plants and animals? How might we reframe “conservation” as restoration? How might we attenuate plastic pollution and keep fast fashion out of landfills? How can we address the drivers of deforestation? How might we design and engineer methods for slowing glacial melt and atmospheric heating? There are innovative and promising answers to those questions bubbling up in the minds of designers, scientists, engineers, and transdisciplinary teams all over the world. Brenda’s keynote will review some of those efforts, identify what they have in common, and explore how we might employ those commonalities as heuristics for designing positive interactions with the Earth.

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