Critical Dharma for Thinking Minds
Design schools all over the world are failing their students by ignoring the most important challenges they will face as they live through a time of unprecedented disruption and ecological collapse. Let me state plainly — we need a Design School for Planetary Collapse.
All roads to the future must cross broken terrain. Our political institutions are designed to hoard wealth and reward greed, with a myopic focus on the near futurethat ignores the long term trajectories for every community on Earth. I have written about this previously as the global architecture for wealth extraction that made it possible for 62 people to accumulate the same total wealth as 3.7 billion others who are condemned to live in poverty by a vast Poverty Creation System.
Add that a cultural sickness is rapidly making the world unlivable for the majority of people (to say nothing about the millions of other species that our collective activities are currently driving to extinction). Most people don’t yet know that the “climate doomsday” already happened in Sub-Saharan Africa and that the refugee crisis in Syria is a teaser trailer for coming attractions all over the world as the planet continues to build up greenhouse gases in its atmosphere.
These are design problems and they will only be solved with rigorously applied design principles that embrace whole systems and address root causes of systemic behavior.So why is it that most designers are being trained to create gadgets and sell products that only increase the wealth of billionaire investors? When will we realize that all hands on deck for planetary emergency includes designers of all kinds?
I have written extensively about the need for culture design — see here for the toolkit; here for a description of culture design labs; here for a network approach to collaboration; here for insights into the lived experience of culture designers. The clock is ticking and we don’t have any time to waste!
Perhaps it will help if I paint a picture of what a Design School for Planetary Collapse might look like… imagine that you have just graduated high school and are readying yourself for professional training. Or that you have been enrolled in a workshop series to change fields now that the one you were in is falling apart. You will need to know about things like:
At the core, such a school would be a right of passage for achieving the combination of intellectual, emotional, and moral maturity that our present “leaders” clearly lack. Selfishness replaced with a selfless commitment to preserve sacred things and the moral fortitude to do what is right even if it means taking a painful or scary path. The world needs spiritual leaders with design skills to do their part in what is sure to be a time of great turbulence and hardship for billions of fellow people.
It is in this spirt that I invite you to ponder whether you would attend such a school. And if you did, would you dedicate your life to service knowing that economic systems are too broken to guarantee safety or security as you go about such important work? Ponder this seriously. Then prepare yourself for action. For the world is now calling us all to greatness.
Onward, fellow humans!
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