South-to-South: Activating Australian-Latin-American Cooperation through Sustainable Design Education
Design-for-Sustainability (DfS) educators from Australian universities belonging to the Learning-Network-in-Sustainability (LeNS) will work with counterpart LeNS nodes in Latin America to jumpstart collaborative relationships in DfS education and research and share expertise and experiences in a two-way knowledge exchange.
Project description *
‘Design-for-Sustainability’ (DfS) promotes products, services, and systems that deliver positive impacts to society, the environment, and the economy. The Learning Network on Sustainability (LeNS) is an association of DfS educators from 125 higher-education institutions in 27 countries, working to diffuse sustainability capacity through innovative curriculum development. By freely sharing learning-resources in an open-source format and ‘copyleft’ ethos, LeNS hopes that the next generation of designers would be equipped with the knowledge-base to aid them in the transition towards more sustainable futures.
The LeNS-Oceania regional node has members from 7 universities in Australia and New-Zealand and seeks DFAT COALAR seed-funding to jumpstart collaborative teaching and research relationships across the LeNS nodes in the Southern-Hemisphere. Led by a highly experienced team, the project draws on a significant volume of in-kind support from partners in South-America and Australia. RMIT’s Dr Fennessy and Dr-Sanín will manage the Australia-based and online project activities, while UNSW’s Dr Ramirez will manage in-country engagements and visit LeNS-nodes in universities in Rio-de-Janeiro, São Paulo, Curitiba, Buenos Aires, Lima and Bogotá on behalf of LeNS-Oceania. The project will spearhead interactions and affiliations, facilitate sharing of DfS expertise, and set in train long-term reciprocal and trans-national educational, cultural and commercial DfS leadership exchanges through three key activities:
- ‘South-to-South’ Educators’ Symposium Series. South-American DfS educators will convene for full-day symposia in host-institutions in each city to share pedagogical and research projects. Dr-Ramirez will co-chair each symposium with a key LeNS partner, while Australian academics will participate via pre-recorded or live streaming video.
- ‘South-to-South’ Student Workshop Series + Interuniversity Design Challenge. Aimed at complementing LeNS-South-America DfS pilot-courses, this series of workshops for senior university students will be delivered by Dr-Ramirez in each host-institution. Participants will be inducted into the inaugural ‘South-to-South’ Interuniversity Design Challenge, to be held in mid-2019. This will develop amongst students deep intercultural understanding through practical DfS activities. This approach to multipolar cooperation is a core modality of LeNS institutions and is evidenced by last year’s shared pilot-courses between Mexico, South-Africa, India, China, England, Netherlands, Finland, and Italy.
- ‘South-to-South’ Collaboration Dialogue Series. Face-to-face and online roundtable meetings will be held between LeNS-Oceania and LeNS-South-America in each city to explore future collaborative opportunities, including co-authored publications, joint industry projects and a two-way exchange of educators and students.
Outcomes of this proposed COALAR-funded ‘South-to-South’ project will be presented at the LeNS global conference in 2019. The built relationships will be maintained via the Interuniversity Design Challenge, envisioned to become an annual educational event and a curricular fixture jointly sponsored by participating universities. This project relates to the Australian Government’s Science and Research Priorities (Environmental Change) and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, underpinned by the practical enabling of new people-to-people connections between Australian and Latin-American universities and design communities. As major stakeholders to their respective intellectual, corporate and cultural development, these university-based collaborators will foster long-term strategic partnerships, focused on interests shared by both LeNS and DFAT-COALAR, namely education, sustainability, multilateral dialogue and the transfer of expertise critical for building closer economic and cultural ties.