CASE STUDY

CAN WE DESIGN A SCHOOL TO DESIGN A PROJECT ON THE FUTURE OF DESIGN?

 

THE INSTITUTE WITHOUT BOUNDARIES (IWB) &
THE MASSIVE CHANGE PROJECT

 

The real purpose of education is to deliver an experience. The IwB is designed as a collaborative pedagogy that produces entrepreneurial designers capable of constant learning. 

The entrepreneurial learning method is simple: we take on a very difficult project on a very public stage, and we tackle it together as a renaissance team. In a typical learning experience, the teacher doles out one small piece of information after another. The IwB instead works by inspiring. The teacher admits, “I don’t know the answers, we’ll search for them together.” The first project of the IwB was the Massive Change exhibition. Fifteen IwB students spent a full year working with me in my studio and became co-authors of the project.

British historian Arnold Toynbee said, “The twentieth century will be chiefly remembered by future generations not as the era of political conflicts or technical inventions, but as an age in which human society dared to think of the welfare of the whole human race as a practical objective.” 

When I read Toynbee’s quote, I thought, “Well that’s the biggest idea I’ve ever heard, and it’s certainly what I’m committed to. It’s what many people I know are committed to.” The phrase ”practical objective” makes the welfare of the whole human race a design problem, not a utopian vision. 

Designers have the ability to see the world in a different way, to see the future with practical optimism. On every level, they are thinking about how to remake our world. The biggest leap in Massive Change was to be positive and optimistic when the rest of the world was feeling that we’re going to hell in a handbasket.