Tuesday, January 27, 2009

DCC2009 Foundation: Focus on Sustainability

What is Design in the age of Global Warming?

DCC2009 Foundation: Focus on Sustainability
Prof M P Ranjan

Image: Foundation class of 2008 batch at the start of DCC2009 this morning in the new extended classroom.

The year has passed and once again we start with a new group of students in the NID Foundation programme who are looking at the Design Concepts and Concerns Course with interest and apprehension. We talked about this today in class and passed the mike around to hear from the students what they had heard from the NID grapevine about the course in the, good and bad, and the discussion was lukewarm. That is till we came to the current topics of interest, in the news, around the world and in India and about their awareness of these events and happenings and its importance to design education and action.

The ice was however broken when we talked about Slumdog Millionare, the movie and its effects being discussed in the media and in blogs about films and the Academy Award nominations. Heated debate followed and it gave us a window to show that on all issues we could hold different positions and some of these could be deep seated and others could be swung in one way or another based on the new data that was presented as well as the quality of the arguments offered in the debates that followed.

Image: DCC2009 class black board discussing “What is Design?” in the age of global warming and setting a stage for the theme of Sustainability.

The blackboard that emerged as Rashmi captured the words that emerged from various efforts of the students to try and define design show the slant that we have chosen to give this particular module. Students would be engaged in ‘visual sense making” as described by G K VanPatter in his NextD conversations and the focus of the course would be on the theme of Sustainability which we had started working on earlier this year for the World Economic Forum at the Design Charette in New Delhi followed by the NID workshop on Sustainability that culminated in the preparation of five posters on the theme which have been sent to Davos for the event on 29th January 2009 which we shall watch with interest. We talked about Victor Papanek and his visit to NID in 1979 as well as the India Report by Charles and Ray Eames in 1958 that makes this the 50th year of its writing. This gives us an opportunity to look back and look forward at India and its need for design in the context of the global financial meltdown as well as the global warming that makes the sustainability debate all the more important for all of us. The other words on the black board are self explanatory or can be cross checked on wikipedia and by google search..

Students have been asked to write their own version of the blackboard discussion and we hope to share some of the more interesting ones here on this blog tomorrow. We closed the day long session with the distribution of the two papers that I had prepared about this course, the first in 2002 for the Design Issues journal called the “Avalanche Effect” (download the paper as 55 kb pdf here) which was unfortunately not carried in the India issue that was published later and the second called “Creating the Unknowable” (download the paper as 50 kb pdf here) which did get accepted in the peer reviewed conference EAD2006 in Bremen, Germany in March 2005. We showed the Davos posters to the students briefly and we will discuss these in greater detail as the course progresses into the theme of sustainability in the days ahead. We propose to form groups tomorrow which will look at what the students already know from their lifetime experience about the topics assigned to them and the chosen topics are very political indeed, at least at the level of popular slogans in Indian politics – Roti, Kapada, Makkan, Bijili, and Rozgar – which stands for Food, Clothing, Housing, Energy and Employment in Hindi.

Image: A sneak preview of the five posters on sustainability which were sent to Davos was shared with the DCC2009 class.

Let us see how this course develops as we go forward from here. Promises to be exciting indeed.
Prof M P Ranjan

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