Things We’ve Seen at A Better World By Design

A Better World by Design has taken campus by storm this weekend. We decided to experience it for ourselves!

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Thoughts on our morning panel…

We started our morning at a panel entitled “Youth Democracy and Design,” moderated by Jen Hetzel Silbert, the founder and curator of Learning 401, an educational non-profit in Rhode Island.

The panel featured Yesica Guerra, director of Crónicas de Héroes/Hero Reports, Sam Gilman ‘15 co-founder of Common Sense Action, and Sam Chaltain, a national educator and organizational change consultant. While the panelists took a few moments each to talk about the work that they had done in their respective fields to design solutions that provide a better platform for youth voice, participants spent the majority of the session asking questions, suggesting potential areas for intervention, and collaborating with one another to brainstorm.

One of the most interesting take-aways was the idea of understanding the delicate balance between individual freedom and group structure within the school system and how this balance can be deeply impacted by the tension that democracy and capitalism create in our public schools.

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So about those bubbles…

The multi-colored bubbles popping up around campus are the brainchildren of a RISD art collaborative named Pneuhaus, which began as a thesis project for 2014 RISD graduates Matthew Muller and August Lehrecke. Over the summer, they added Hunter Blackwell (RISD ‘14, glass) and Levi Bedall (Ohio State University, Architecture, ‘14).

Their mission, according to their website, is “focused around designing objects and spaces that require an active participation from their audience,” and their latest installation is no exception.

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A Cool Thing You Shouldn’t Miss: A Better World by Design

better worldA Better World by Design, or the only conference clever enough to advertise in the middle of a crosswalk, is back for its seventh year and is cooler than ever. Founded by Brown’s Engineers Without Borders in 2008, A Better World by Design seeks to “bring a global community of innovators to Providence” to create a powerful exchange across fields to “build a better world.”

The three-day conference is packed with lectures, panels, and workshops intended to get you thinking about how passionate individuals and teams can change the way we look at the world through innovative design. Events will take place this weekend, September 19-21, mostly on College Hill and spread across Brown and RISD’s campuses. This year’s theme is “wayfinding” or “a collective design process used to solve social changes,” so expect programs drawing from the fields of “mapping, interactive art, design policy, and DIY biology.”

You’ll have the opportunity to hear a ton of influential speakers and attend programs that cater to nearly every interest. Seriously. This year’s program offers lectures ranging from “hearing colors” to effectively redesigning public policies to lessen social disparities. Needless to say, this conference offers programs that go way beyond our normative definition of design.

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A Cool Thing You Shouldn’t Miss: A Better World by Design

A Better World by Design” is back this weekend for its sixth year of, well, designing a better world. If the title of the conference sounds like a Brown course title/general mantra to you, you’re on the right track: it was started by Brown and RISD students as a lecture series, and has grown into a three-day conference with 75 presenters. The conference “cultivates a global community of socially-conscious and passionate innovators” through workshops, panels and speakers, so it’s basically everything cool (un)packed together. And you barely have to get off the Hill—all of the events are held at Brown and RISD.

Even if you’re not an engineering concentrator, there is something for you at the conference; it stresses that design is everywhere, even in fields that are not stereotypically design-oriented. For instance, one of the featured presenters is Alexander Eaton, who is the CEO of a startup designing a renewable energy technology to convert human waste into organic fertilizer (if you’ve seen the signs in bathroom stalls asking “Where does your poop go?”, get the answer here). Another cool panel is on Whole Foods’ journey into sustainable design, as deliciously overpriced groceries better be eco-friendly. Continue Reading


Designing a Better World, for the fifth year

A Better World By Design? What’s that!? Well, curious party…for anybody who has been to campus, A Better World By Design is just one of the many reasons a bunch of strangers flock to Brown and make just about everything more crowded. But for those involved, the conference is an opportunity “to make the world better through the power of design thinking.”

Many groups at Brown float the words “conversation” and “dialogue” around, but this three-day event takes them very seriously. Events throughout the conference are focused around the use of design, in whatever form it may take, to promote social responsibility on a global scale. Additionally, a representative for the group explains that this year’s conference is more “attendee-driven” than previous ones, with presentations that encourage activity and participation. Targeting both professionals and students, the Better World team hopes to facilitate collaboration and learning between participants, who will take these ideas back to their research, studies, business ventures and other projects.

This year’s most anticipated speaker is the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, Rocco Landesman. He plans to discuss the intersection of arts and sciences, and Better World hopes that the speech will attract both Brown and RISD undergrads who may not otherwise attend. Another anticipated event is the Failure in Five series. In these short presentations, individuals—students, entrepreneurs, and other innovators—discuss a failure and the knowledge they took away from the experience. This seems pretty TED talky…and we know betches loooooove TED talks. Continue Reading


WTF is happening on the Main Green? ABWBD making free posters

No, there isn’t a giant hotbox a la parachute on the Main Green. A Better World by Design, the annual Brown-RISD conference on environmental and social design, is offering free silkscreen prints of their shnazzy logo today until 4 pm.

It’s simple: climb into the giant plastic bag tent, print your own poster, and then register to volunteer if you want.

If you can’t make it and still wanna volunteer, go online here. No free poster for you, but still lots of swag for volunteers.