Theme: Modalities of Mutual Learning for Global Sustainable Development

Aim for the Baraza

  • To share ideas on appropriate mutual education opportunities and modes of operation to promote mutual learning regarding design for sustainable development that will be particularly relevant to African-based participants.
  • To inform the planning for the DESIGN 2022 Online Workshop with the same theme organized by the AFRICA-DESIGN team: 
  • To identify and prioritize future initiatives across institutions and societies.

Sub-themes for the Baraza

  • Mutual learning opportunities. 
  • Modalities of mutual learning opportunities.
  • Education for Global Sustainable Development. 

Conduct of the Baraza

The Baraza was held online via Zoom meeting and was moderated by:

  • Jon Wade (UC San Diego)  
  • Jesse Austin Breneman (University of Michigan) 


  • Introductions (10 min)
  • Motivation and Aim (5 min)
  • Small Group Discussion (20 min)
  • Report Out (10 min)
  • Small Group Discussion (20 min)
  • Report Out (10 min)
  • Actions Items & Closing Remarks (10 min) 

Small Group Discussions 

During the two small group discussions sessions participants were divided into two breakout rooms each covering the same topic question simultaneously. Below find summaries of the discussions for the two topic questions from the different rooms. 

Topic Question 1: What mutual education opportunities on design for sustainable development would be of most relevance to your institution or community?

Breakout Room 1

Joint research opportunities can help combine the strengths of different people from all kinds of areas. This can help produce patents and products that would otherwise not be possible. One aspect that can be implemented is Challenge-Driven Education which focuses on helping students understand complex questions, learning from each other through projects and courses that deal with large challenges. To do this, active and action-oriented goals can be discussed through events like competitions, bootcamps, and hackathons. These events can help by including prototyping and entrepreneurship in the learning process where mentors can share their experiences all the way from ideation to end product. 

Teaching the basics of design to students who do not have an engineering background, including people who are not from university, tapping into the wider community as well as innovators who are passionate and skilled who can use this knowledge to further build on their work. The global classroom perspective and training can be used to train students on tools for design and sustainable development. They then can become trainers of trainers, and pass on the knowledge. Further, senior students can pass knowledge they are proficient in to younger students. 

In some African countries, physics or science is not a strong suit. Universities can help engage with high school students through small sessions on design. We must be able to come up with learning experiences that can simplify complicated topics and make them accessible to younger students and the wider community. Sustainability and design are not commonly taught, especially from a younger age, and changing this needs to be on the societal level. Since teachers are an influential and close academic point of contact, they can be trained to teach these topics in a more impactful manner. 

To reach out to the wider community, youth leaders or community leaders can be agents of change in their immediate community, and create problem-solvers in their society. Students can be approached with the intention of finding problems in their society they want to solve, work on these, take part in a final presentation, and even help with the design of the solution. 


Breakout Room 2 

A great opportunity to promote mutual learning through education could be through case studies done by multidisciplinary global teams. This is attributed to the importance of having diversity in perspectives. This could take the form of a competition. It could also take the form of a marketplace for ideas where people from different backgrounds join/form teams and when the numbers are reached they are assigned to a supervisor and they collaborate on themes of their choice. How to ensure efficiency and functionality in the global classroom teams is a possible research question i.e how to make it work.

To ensure the knowledge base is on the same level for all participants it would be important to provide education material in the beginning. Suggested time frames for  the course included a year or semester long course. Having a range of activities incorporated in the course would also be great. To increase students participation and engagement it would be beneficial to bring it in as part of a course or a whole semester,  where you select a specific area where you want to collaborate in. This can be modified, as it is not easy to get a whole new course approved.

To promote these collaboration opportunities, training and supporting, course facilitators would positively impact the progress as those trained can train others. Industry players can also  be invited to come and see the project exhibitions and even potentially offer an internship and collaboration opportunities.


Topic Question 2 : What are the potential benefits, challenges, partnerships needed, and next steps for the identified modalities? What defines success?

Break out Room 1

Benefits noted are that extending the reach of teaching design and sustainable modules to individuals outside of academia, including but not limited to,  innovators in the community, agents of change, those with an interest, and those not formally educated is a way to share knowledge. In addition, short courses or workshops over a period of days could lead to more actionable and concrete steps forward. Certificates of recognition and/or participation are of importance to students/ individuals attending to assist them in their future endeavors, education or employment as an add on to their CV, indicating valid evidence of the knowledge acquired or project completed through the course. 

Challenges included not enough recognition for universities that undertake the duty to help educate the community and surrounding schools. Furthermore, reaching out through government schools could have a long lead time due to procedures and bureaucracy. To increase recognition, the challenges included may determine areas of mutual interest to work on, and measure its impact in society. What is the pre-work required for short courses, and is there a common module from multiple classes that can be used, and participants come in with base knowledge before the workshop, and then have some deliverables. 

Partnerships identified included schools (with STEM departments), communities, professors that have a similar interest in specific subjects willing to hold the courses or workshops. Small teams with professors from different continents can work tougher to create an educational module in their specialized subject, which can be tested with short contact hours to begin with. Once the prototype course is more popular, can invite more students, and try to make it inclusive and mutual before expanding. 


Identified modalities included having short courses, workshops or a bootcamp on sustainable design, spanning over a few days to be able to teach participants theoretically and allowing time for practical activities to be able to apply the teachings. Proposing sustainability, design topics or Challenge Driven Education to primary or high schools that have STEM clubs to introduce these concepts earlier on education via teachers or directly to students. A challenge here is making tools accessible to everyone, or finding tools that are simple and easy to learn by everyone regardless of their background. Training for interested people on how to use such tools, as well as how to be a facilitator or trainer for a challenge driven course can bridge the gap.


Break out Room 2

Potential benefits of having teams consisting of people from different regions and backgrounds from the global classroom is that the interaction encourages mutual learning and it's also an opportunity  to contribute to solving the Sustainable Development Goals. This learning extends to applications in other spheres of life, and not only educational perspectives.  

One of the challenges experienced in promoting such spaces was institutional bureaucracy, to work around this it was suggested that one invites the institution's influential people e.g. Dean of Studies to their sessions. This would aid in convincing financial and resource allocation. It was also suggested to start small and not always think global but start local and with zero budget models which can be done through collaboration with people you already know. It would also be great to start with workshops like this, that would get more faculty involved. Another challenge is making sure the activities are actually executed and delivered to the broader community within the decided timeframe, and not delayed since most people are busy. Another recommendation was to give credits to students who participate in these projects. We should also remember to have metrics to measure the success of our work.

Summary of Recommendations

  • Mutual education opportunities on design for sustainable development most relevant to participants and their institutions/ communities:
  • Joint research opportunities and case studies done by multidisciplinary global teams to combine various strengths and diversity. 
  • Challenge Driven Education to help understand complex questions and learning from each other through projects.
  • Competitions, bootcamps, and hackathons for active and action-oriented goals. 
  • Teaching design basics to students without an engineering background to have more reach into the community, innovators and for those with no university education.
  • Senior students teaching younger students. 
  • Teaching younger students about sustainability and design at the earliest stage possible in their education and engaging STEM clubs. 
  • Engaging students with the problems they want to solve in their communities.
  • Having a marketplace for ideas where people from different backgrounds join/form teams and are assigned to a supervisor, collaborating on themes of their choosing. 
  • A global classroom where participants spend a period of time learning a specific course before attending the workshop where activities will take place.  

Benefits of Identified Modalities: 

  • Extending the teaching of sustainability and design to communities, innovators, individuals not linked to an institution or with no formal degree.
  • Short courses or workshops over several days could inspire more action.
  • Certificates of participation or recognition are a value add for participants. 
  • Attendance of participants from various countries or backgrounds encourages heightened mutual learning and contribution to solving the SDGs.

Next Steps:

  • Informing the planning for the DESIGN 2022 Online Workshop with the same theme organized by the    AFRICA-DESIGN team
  • Introducing some of these ideas and actioning them at the DESIGN2022 Conference, AFRICA-DESIGN workshop, in partnership with INCOSE and ASME.

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