Monday, 23rd May 2022

Hosted by The Design Society


Report Written By: Dunja Stevanovic,  Michelle Wanyang’ and Niharika Dayaneni


Executive Summary

AFRICA-DESIGN was featured at the 17th International Design Conference that was hosted virtually from the 23rd to the 26th of May, 2022 through an online workshop. The workshop contributed to AFRICA-DESIGN’s initiative that seeks to build a network of design researchers, educators, and practitioners based in African countries and beyond, with particular emphasis on design for sustainable development; with a priority of linking them with colleagues in the worldwide design community. The workshop was planned with a basis of the perception of mutual learning opportunities in the challenges that we all share by aiming to provide an environment for active, collaborative learning during the workshop.

This year's workshop presentations included content on Global Classroom, Training of Trainers and Design Tools showcasing how they can help members to design, innovate, and create work efficiently.  The workshop was a buildup of previous Baraza’s - community-driven series of regular events where members of the design community take the leading role  to  plan out and hold a baraza (Swahili word for a public meeting place) in their own style. This report summarises the happenings of the workshop outlining key activities and findings.

Key findings included that there is a lot of interest, commitment, work and projects around design for sustainable development that have been, are being or will be done in Africa. In terms of collaboration and partnerships, a gap still exists and more can be done  regarding collaboration after engagement forums such as AFRICA-DESIGN workshops and Barazas. In addition, young Africans are interested and willing to engage and ideate on Sustainable Development  in Africa.

The next steps for the AFRICA-DESIGN initiative include the creation of the African Chapter as part of The Design Society, this being a key priority for the current Steering Committee of AFRICA-DESIGN, as well as continuing to plan the hosting of Barazas and possibly having educational follow up activities on the presented design tools.

Key Findings and Recommendations 


  • As seen and noted from previous workshops and Baraza’s, there is a lot of interest, commitment, work and projects around design for sustainable development  that have been, are being or will be done in Africa. This is evident through continuous participation  in AFRICA-DESIGN organised events.
  • Building up on the need for a platform where interested parties can  regularly ‘meet’, converse and engage on specific  projects that are in line with their interests to promote collaboration.The creation of the AFRICA-DESIGN Baraza  and its consecutive events was highly appreciated and welcomed. 
  • In terms of collaboration and partnerships, a gap still exists and more can be done  regarding collaboration after engagement forums such as AFRICA-DESIGN  workshops and barazas. 
  • Research and active engagement with necessary stakeholders needs to be done to find out how to alleviate the challenges that hinder collaboration, learning and networking in the design for sustainable development space.
  • Design researchers and participants from academia are encouraged to engage the top leadership in their respective universities as a way of encouraging their universities' participation and contribution to  design related activities. 
  • In light of promoting participation of members from African countries, there is a need to make the stated events more affordable and accessible to participants all around the globe for diversified and inclusive output that  is very welcomed  in the academic and research  fields. It is also encouraged to explore different ways of doing this to promote utmost participation with a suggestion of  introducing cost sharing.
  • That said, in order to attract, ensure continuity and promote peer to peer learning in the design and research field, provision of student friendly prices or partial  fee waivers to the above-mentioned events would greatly improve accessibility and attract more undergraduate students to the design and research field.  
  • Young Africans are interested and willing to engage and ideate on Sustainable Development  in Africa.


Major Challenges 

  • The Design2022 Conference was hosted on the Hopin platform. The virtual nature of the conference alienated the expenses that would normally be a key hindrance for  participants to attend such a workshop if it were hosted physically. However, many of the participants were not familiar with the platform, adding on to the internet connectivity challenges as well as technical challenges associated with the platform. 
  • It would be insightful to take participants through a training on how to use the platform before the actual event  day to reduce the time spent getting acquainted with the platform thus potentially reducing a lot of the technical challenges.
  • Due to the nature of a virtual workshop, poor connectivity and lack of a stable internet connection  was a challenge for some participants.
  • During the discussions, notably some collaboration would take time to be realized due to  COVID-19 affecting the same in many ways. 
  • The difference in time zones was also a challenge affecting participation. 
  • Despite receiving registration fee waivers, some participants were still not able to attend the workshop due to connectivity issues and unforeseen circumstances. 
  • As is the case in a lot of virtual workshops, participants all wished there was more time to continue with the conversations and discussions.


Next Steps 


  • The summary of the workshop will be made available on the AFRICA-DESIGN website.
  • The creation of the Africa Chapter for The Design Society is a keen priority for the current Steering Committee of AFRICA-DESIGN and persons interested in contributing to the Chapter are encouraged to contact any of the members of the steering committee to register their interest.
  • After the workshop, the AFRICA-DESIGN team plans to continue hosting barazas and possibly having educational follow up activities on the presented design tools.
  • Participants are encouraged to join the AFRICA-DESIGN LinkedIn group and page as we look forward to more activities and events leading up to the creation of the Africa Chapter in The Design Society.




AFRICA-DESIGN was featured at the 17th International Design Conference that was hosted virtually from the 23rd to the 26th of May, 2022 through an online workshop. The AFRICA-DESIGN initiative seeks to build a network of design researchers, educators, and practitioners based in African countries and beyond, with particular emphasis on design for sustainable development; and to link them with colleagues in the worldwide design community. The initiative builds on the perception of mutual learning opportunities in the challenges that we all share. The AFRICA-DESIGN workshop at DESIGN 2022 served as a platform for the continuation of the initiative's work by aiming to provide an environment for active, collaborative learning during the workshop.




In its planning, the workshop focused mainly on a particular finding of previous workshops at ICED 2019, DESIGN 2020, and ICED 2021: the need for mutual learning activities on design for sustainable development across countries and regions. As an example, previous workshop discussions led to the launch of Baraza’s community-driven series of regular events where members of the design community take the leading role  to  plan out and hold a baraza (Swahili word for a public meeting place) in their own style. Three Baraza's have been hosted since November 2021 with their reports being made available on the AFRICA-DESIGN website. Other modalities of mutual learning have been discussed  and continue to be explored including workshops, short courses, on-site local events, knowledge repositories, and leveraging multi-society activities where the Design Society is a partner. The emphasis is on active learning  and collaboration across all participants in such events.

The objectives of the workshop were to:

  1. To brainstorm and discuss  different modalities of mutual learning,whilst considering how to make use of community resources and evolving technologies to support the same.It was also important to encourage participants to initiate collaboration for the different modalities.
  • The concept of Global Classrooms
  • Consequences on teaching-how to train teachers  

     2.   To share information and knowledge  about different design tools supporting sustainable development.

     3.   Encourage the development of actionable plans and where global teams that can undertake specific learning events are identified. 


Format of the Workshop and Chronological Summary of the Workshop: 

What happened in each workshop session, highlighting key results.


13:15 Welcome and Introductions

Introduction by Dr. Shibwabo

Welcoming and introductory remarks were held by Dr. Shibwabo who welcomed participants to the workshop, introduced the AFRICA-DESIGN team and the work we do. The participants also attempted an icebreaker game where they guessed capital cities of African countries.


13:30  Session 1: Global Classroom

Session Presenters: Susanne Nilsson (KTH), Margareta Norell Bergendahl (KTH), Dunja Stevanovic (Botho University), Michelle Wanyang’ (Strathmore University)  


Session Recap 

The first session of the workshop focused on “Global Classroom” and was presented by Margareta Norell Bergendahl on behalf of Susanne Nilsson. The concept of Global Classroom in the workshop was explained in the context of courses that foster cross-disciplinary collaboration, allowing students and teachers from around the world to participate in collective assignments and learning experiences.

Whilst sustainability challenges manifest locally, they are linked to other regions, nations and the global society. To be able to mitigate these challenges and provide solutions, coordinated and collaborative efforts are required from the global community. Collaboration of this level would require specific competences, knowledge, skills, tools and attitudes, thus demanding new ways of teaching. In addition, the capabilities of students must be broadened to be able to work across national, geographical and cultural boundaries, identifying sustainability challenges and developing the relevant solutions for them. 

An example of the Global Classroom during the presentation included a course which runs online for one-week with Master’s students from Asia, Europe and Africa from various disciplines. During this course student's address locally defined societal challenges in a township in Cape Town, South Africa addressing them through entrepreneurial, innovation and design activities. There are student pre-course assignments which include introduction videos and becoming familiar with the uploaded material such as articles and videos from the specific townships. The design of the course includes various aspects such as relating the local challenge to a global one, theory work, ‘field work’, reflections on learning and finally presenting the solution. 

During this course the students learn:

  • to identify and develop frugal product and service innovation in resource complex settings essential entrepreneurial activities in resource complex settings
  • how systems complexity and dynamics across different scales of a system impact how

societal challenges are perceived and addressed

Another example presented by Dunja Stevanovic and Michelle Wanyang’  included Openlab, a Challenge Driven Innovation course where design thinking methods are used to address real societal challenges. The students from four partner universities (KTH, Stockholm University, Södertörn University and Karolinska Institutet) are eligible to apply for the course (Challenges for Emerging Cities). Upon admission, students are divided into interdisciplinary teams, and assigned a specific challenge provided by the Stockholm Municipality. 

The structure of Openlab intends to develop innovative solutions to address real life societal challenges in a creative and accelerated manner. The challenges are presented by the main stakeholder and interviews are held to understand the problem and possible causes. The needs and experiences of real users guide the process,  to which the solutions would make a real difference to people’s lives. The main areas of challenges are sustainable urban development, future healthcare, education and the ageing population (Specific to the status quo of Stockholm Municipality). The 

teams are made of individuals with a range of ages, various professional and personal backgrounds. A team contract is established for a good working relationship, strengths, weaknesses, task sharing and communication processes. Individual and group brainstorming, idea clustering, thinking outside the confines of norms, exploring surroundings are some of the several ways used to find the most workable solution throughout the process. Teams address and re-frame challenges through the Design Thinking methods (Design Thinking, SCRUM) through which several iterations take place to figure out a number of solutions before using design methods to select one solution to present to the main challenge giver.  

Questions discussed in the breakout rooms:

  • What experiences do you have of designing or being part of a global classroom?
  • If you would offer a global classroom, what would be the content and design of it?
  • Whom would you like to invite? 
  • What parameters would you use to know your global classroom course was a success?

Breakout Room Discussion Summary

Participants in Breakout Room 1 discussed that there could be two metrics used to design the global classroom, such as who is in the classroom, and is it online or in person? The objectives can be different and set out in the beginning of the course, and it was mentioned that these objectives can be changed as the course progresses for improvement purposes. Questions of the effectiveness in the mode of delivery, and in what situation the global classroom could be effective showed that there is a possibility that this depends on the participants and age groups involved. For example, younger students need instruction as productivity depends on this. 

In Breakout Room 2, participants shared examples which included a University of Michigan design class with ten students from Botho University and ten from Makerere University in 2020, which were then graded by faculty at each institution. Connectivity was a challenge but there were good interactions regarding collaboration.  Botho University / Strathmore University also had collaborative course projects.  The course metrics included student evaluations, a percentage of real-life project implementation and solutions being used.  The challenges consisted of conflict between end user outcomes and academic outcomes,  virtual interactions made it harder to gauge student strengths and weaknesses, and required more patience. A benefit was group dynamic differences.

In Breakout Room 3, discussions of being involved in a global classroom were varied as some participants had experience, while others did not. Those who had been involved in a global classroom setting previously, showed that whilst individuals can come from anywhere in the world, they communicated common ideas, even through diversity and that these challenges even if specific to one particular area could be applied on a global level as similarities could be found. Further to this, the parameters that could be used to gauge the success of the global classroom included the different backgrounds socially and/or scientifically of participants. Teachers and students were equally involved and wrote down different expectations and goals at the beginning of the course then checked these at the end of the course to reflect, seeing what different needs or expectations were met.


14:20 Break


14:30 Session 2: Training of Trainers

Session Presenters: Dr. Shibwabo (Strathmore University) and Anders Rosen (KTH- Global Development Hub)

Session Summary 

The Global Development Hub (GDH) is a partnership for mutual capacity building for sustainable societal transformations through education, innovation, and research. The global society is not sustainable. In rich countries, natural resources are being over-consumed, with a heavy impact on the environment. Wealth, power and justice is unequally distributed around the world. Challenge Driven Education is one aspect of GDH where an impact-oriented project-based learning approach is used, where multi-perspective student teams collaborate with various stakeholders in projects that address societal challenges related to the UN SDGs. It consists of two parallel processes, the first being formal education with learning outcomes and the other innovation with project outcomes that help students become change agents in their society. To support teachers with implementing this, there are multiple modules to train teachers. Each module requires about 10 hours of work, addressed towards high school teachers. Alongside these modules, they work on a course development assignment where these changes can be applied to their courses. For example, they can choose to do so by adding a sustainability aspect, or by bringing in external stakeholders. Module 1 consists of principles and motivations for challenge driven education, and the competences to change society in a better direction. Module 2 considers actual building of the learning approach, such as learning objectives, students working in teams in open-ended projects, and other issues that can come up in this kind of learning. Module 3 consists of methodologies to identify societal challenges, and drive the solution to these problems. Module 4 consists of how to identify appropriate challenges for students to work with, and engaging external stakeholders. Module 5 helps teachers to be confident and comfortable with teaching in a dynamic and a facilitating way, which differs from the traditional teaching aspects. Module 6 allows the teachers to share the course projects they have been working with.

An example of a challenge driven course at KTH is the MF2089 Challenge Driven Innovation for Sustainable Development with 22.5 credits. One project consisted of hospitality acquired infections, where many people, about 7% of people who go to hospitals to be cured actually acquire new infections. The multidisciplinary student team interviewed both staff and patients in the hospital, and came up with an automated bed cleaning system that relieved nurses of extra workload, and decreased spread of infections. 

Another example of a challenge driven course is at Strathmore University, Kenya, where students handled a challenge from the Nairobi community: ‘How can the livelihood of street vendors be improved?’. They were required to store produce in a way that it did not get wet and spoiled. The solution from students was a portable refrigerator that was based on an adaptation of rural techniques that used water and charcoal. 



  • Do you find the teacher training modules relevant? Is there something missing?
  • Has any similar training been used in your own university/contexts?
  • What opportunities and barriers do you see in conducting this kind of teacher training in your own university/context?
  • Which aspects are important to guarantee successful engagement of external stakeholders in student projects?

Breakout Room Discussion Summary

In Breakout Room 2, participants mentioned how there were similar programs in their university, but there is still room for improvement with regards to facilitating it better. As most of the teachers taught within their respective fields, this did not allow for diversity or interaction between different departments or subjects, making it hard to implement interdisciplinary projects. However, most teachers are enthusiastic to try new ways of teaching, which should be utilised. The engagement in these projects would depend on the attitude of students and teachers, since usually the stakeholders who provide the challenges are excited to share and solve the challenges. 

Breakout Room 3 discussed the barriers and the opportunities to this kind of program. The opportunities included how people think out of the box and come up with new ideas that can be scaled in the future. If the training is done well, the knowledge can also be passed on to other teachers, leading to a ripple effect. Teachers can teach other teachers, and students pass on the knowledge among themselves as well, causing mutual learning. The barriers mainly included flexibility and attitude, as it can be hard to get teachers to commit a large amount of their time, but it can be done so with the right incentive. The attitude of how the students and teachers approach this matters, so they can be in sync. If any of them do not see the value in this, the whole project might not be of any value at all. The aspects which are important to have better engagement of external stakeholders is that the approach is of mutual interest, so they feel concerned and engaged in it. The other is to have continuation after the project has ended, allowing the student to feel like it's a real project that has had an impact. It also helps to continue the project if one section does not teach in the next year or so. Time management when dealing with stakeholders, knowing how they solve issues, and knowing how to allocate each activity. 


15:20 Break 


15:30 Session 3 Design Tools 

Session Presenters: Mr. Ronald van de Pol- MathWorks, Prof. Jesse Austin-Breneman- ASME, Engineering for Change (E4C), Dr. Thayla Zomer- DTU, Ready2Loop and Dr. Navid Manai- Granta EduPack

Session Recap

This session invites guest speakers to present their design tools, and how they can help members to design, innovate, and create work efficiently. 

Mathworks, by Mr. Ronald van de Pol

Mathworks is a mathematical software for engineers and scientists. Design tools such as Mathworks and SIMULINK are used to design a wide variety of everyday products, and for breakthroughs transforming how we live, learn and work. There are many topics listed where these tools are helpful, such as mechatronics, systems engineering, model based engineering, AI, autonomous vehicles, neural networks, and robotics optimization. Mathworks is a programming environment that can be used for algorithms, development, data analysis, visualisation and numeric computation. 

Simulink is a graphical environment that is used for designing, simulating, and testing systems. These environments come with many add-on features to cater to specific tasks. To make these environments more available to academics, students, and researchers, a campus-wide license is offered that covers all products, and makes it possible to use them anywhere- online, at home, or at campus. Currently, this license makes these tools available to over 2500 universities, and over 10 million STEM students worldwide. 

In research, these tools are supported by science gateways, which can be used to collaborate on projects, share data, and learn. If the university has accelerators or incubators to support startups, they can get licenses to work with these tools as well. Besides software licenses, there are a large range of free offers to help support education and help make a link with the industry. 

To teach people how to use these environments in their work, MathWorks provides teaching resources like complete sets of curriculum materials, virtual labs, and modular exercises. There is support for capstone projects, and to get practical experience in industry. There are also awards for researchers, and competitions such as PARC Robotics, and hackathons, or generic competitions like the Formula Student. There are also certifications to validate a user’s skill in these tools.


ASME (American Society for Mechanical Engineers), Engineering for Change, by Prof. Jesse Austin-Breneman

There are two types of resources offered by Engineering of Change. One, is research reports on different trends, such as the State of EGD in different continents that can help nearby people or organisations to find people working in similar sectors. The second is the 50 breakthroughs, which is a list of critical scientific and technological advances that are needed to progress towards sustainable global development. These can be used by students or organisations looking for prompts to work on. Finally, there is a solutions library, to find solutions for the project you are working on, to collaborate with or learn from. With the E4C Fellowships, there is an extensive network of engineering to help people with the expertise you need or want to work with. Webinars are offered to gain expertise and connect with stakeholders. ASME ISHOW is a competition and incubator for social enterprises, and provides support through connections and funding. 


ready2LOOP, Dr. Thayla Zomer

This tool is for companies to make a self assessment on their readiness to transition to a circular economy. It is completely free, allowing the company to check the aspects the company needs to change, and address the gaps remaining towards the transition. The companies can create a profile and fill out a questionnaire, and get a score report. They also have access to multiple tools to help them on the transition. Over 500 companies from different sectors and parts of the world have signed up to make this transition. The platform has expanded from industry to cover other parts of the value chain. This tool is backed by scientific evidence, and validation from different workshops. There is also a paper that explains this process and methodology. The eight dimensions involved in this tool are strategy and business model, products and services, operations, smart products, support and maintenance, takeback and end of use, along with policy, and market. The assessment is based on a five point scale. Through collaboration with many companies, accelerators were developed to validate the tool’s assumptions. 


Granta EduPack, Dr. Navid Manai

sAnsys can support teaching sustainability to engineering students through the Granta EduPack. After research on the teaching of sustainability in engineering programs, insights led to knowing that practical projects requiring a range of technical skills give a good context for introducing sustainability thinking, and embedding sustainability issues into existing courses works better than creating standalone courses for sustainability. The EduPack is made to address these two points. Used by over 1400 institutions worldwide, it provides students with an encyclopedia of materials and process data. This helps with the visualisation, filtering, and  estimation tools, along with over 200 education resources to supplement teaching. The databases are divided into different levels, such as introductory or advanced, with different ranges of data and properties available in them. Most importantly, environmental attributes are included in the material records, including end of life, processing, and the environmental impacts of these. Comparison and categorisation of these materials can be done in a visual way, through graphs. The EcoAudit tool can be used to estimate the environmental impact of a product, through a streamlined life cycle analysis, and get a detailed report on each stage in the life cycle. A methodology used for eco design projects is by using the EcoAudit tool to see which stage of life has the highest impact, and compare different processes and solutions to find a solution to create a product with lower embodied value, or create better material decisions. 


16:00 Vote of Thanks/ Closing Remarks 

The closing remarks were made by Panos Papalambros who also introduced the proposal to create an African Chapter and encouraged participants who may be interested in this to contact him or any of the members of AFRICA-DESIGN in response to this. We also had a fruitful feedback session with participants sharing what they enjoyed during the session as well as lessons learnt through “I liked….and I wish …..”

16:15 Workshop ended



1. The Design Society

2. DESIGN2022 Workshop Organisers  

3. Our Amazing Presenters (in order of presentation) 

  • Dr. Bernard Shibwabo (Strathmore University) 
  • Susanne Nilsson (KTH),
  • Margareta Norell Bergendahl (KTH),
  • Dunja Stevanovic (Botho University), 
  • Michelle Wanyang’ (Strathmore University) 
  • Anders Rosen (KTH- Global Development Hub)
  • Ronald van de Pol (MathWorks) 
  • Prof. Jesse Austin-Breneman (ASME, Engineering for Change - E4C)
  • Dr. Thayla Zomer (DTU, Ready2Loop)
  • Dr. Navid Manai (Granta EduPack

4. Everyone that took time out to join and participate in the workshop.

5. Workshop Organisers-The AFRICA-DESIGN Steering Committee



Workshop Organisers:


Margareta Norell Bergendahl - KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden.

Susanne Nilsson - KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden.

Panos Papalambros - University of Michigan (UM), United States.

Bernard Shibwabo - Strathmore University (SU), Nairobi, Kenya.



Dunja Stevanovic - Botho University (BU), Gaborone Botswana and KTH Royal Institute of Technology.

Michelle Wanyang’ - Strathmore University (SU), Nairobi, Kenya and KTH Royal Institute of Technology.

Niharika Dayaneni - KTH Royal Institute of Technology.


Participating Institutions:

We acknowledge that this list may not be conclusive.* 

  1. American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) 
  2. Botho University
  3. ETH Zürich
  4. Granta EduPack
  5. KTH Royal Institute of Technology 
  6. Limkokwing University of Creative Technology 
  7. MathWorks 
  8. University  of Johannesburg
  9. Strathmore University
  10. Technical University of Denmark
  11. University of Botswana
  12. University of Michigan

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