Teach-In ‘The 2012 Imperative’ – How designers and the education system can respond to Climate Change

An inspiring day, it's imperative you sign up!

Written by Adam S

The Teach-In was held last week at the V&A and a packed hall of students, faculty and staff  - as well as 22 institutions around the world tuning in to the live Internet broadcast – were there to respond to the critical issues of our time, resource depletion, loss of biodiversity and especially the issue of climate change.

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One of the main aims of the event was to focus on the role of the design community in facing these problems. The design community is well placed to offer solutions as well as educate people towards an ecological literacy, an understanding and awareness of how to work towards a sustainable future.

One of the main problems addressed is the need to communicate the climate science to people; often dry documents, facts and figures fall short on getting the audience engaged. It is up to designers to try to communicate this and engage the masses. Eco Mag No.1 ‘Future Scenarios’ designed by Eco Labs, a network of designers and visual artists committed to addressing environmental problems, is an example of how this can work. The magazine features an array of artists who respond to the different scenarios we face in a hotter climate, based on Mark Lynas’ book Six Degrees.

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Amelia’s Magazine is also publishing an Anthology later this year where we have worked with over 20 Illustrators to picture new and sustainable technologies, you can pre order your copy now. Engaging people through imaginative and visual medium is one way we have looked to help to develop an ecological literacy. Science is never going to be a way in for most people and these two methods are great examples of addressing the problem.

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The Teach-In hosted a range of inspiring speakers, Richard Hawkins a researcher at PIRC, that has developed major reports ‘Climate Safety’ and ‘zerocarbonbritain’, opened with a great slideshow illustrating the problems we face. Emma Dewberry talked on Nurturing Ecology in Universities and highlighted some student work like the streetlights that respond to the moons cycle designed by the Civil Twilight collective.

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The event also gave the audience the chance to get involved with activities and discussions, and it was great to see what ideas we could come up with as a group  in such a short space of time.

After a quick lunch, speakers from the Tactical Technology Collective gave a talk on their work. They offer guides, tools and training to help groups and organisations increase the impact of their campaigning. Obviously very committed, co-founders Stephanie Hankey and Marek Tuszynski offered an insight of some of the projects they have been working on. One they told us about that is particaularly worth mentioning is Information is Beautiful, a site that has a range of amazing illustrated charts and diagrams, go check it out, it has kept me engaged for the past half an hour.

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To end the day John Thackara, director of Door of Perception, gave us a whirlwind tour of his 3-step plan for Universities and the importance of adapting the curriculum to educate about the importance of sustainability. His idea that we should stop making stuff to fix other stuff was also really interesting. He illustrated his point by showing how things like mobile phones and electric or green cars require huge amounts of energy and materials that then render them completely unsustainable.

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Jody Boehnert, event organiser and also an integral part of Eco Labs, finished with a debate and a quick consensus decision making on the 2012 imperative, which can be viewed here. It sets the aims and points out what individuals and the educational institutions can do to tackle climate change.

People left discussing how to implement some of the ideas developed by the Teach-In, in particular, how Universities and workplaces can work towards some of the aims.

The day inspired another group of people that will hopefully continue to implement the imperative and spread the word in any exciting visual and imaginative ways they can think of!

Make sure you join the movement and visit the website and sign up to the 2012 Imperative.

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