What I have gained this semester

Throughout the class I have gained valuable knowledge in dealing with wicked problems in our world. Through the group discussions and readings for this class, I have been exposed to diverse problems that cause me to think and view the world in a different paradigm. In the first reading about the fall of Easter Island, I learned not only how the fall of civilization was due to the limited resources that the Islanders were provided, but the way people used the resources without forethought.  When talking to my group about the fall of Easter Island, we all had different ideas about what caused the Islanders to not realize their detrimental effect on their environment. I argued that most likely there were some Islanders who wanted to conserve the resources and saw what was happening around them, but whether it be because of  rivalries between tribes or leader’s wishes, the ones that wanted a change were silenced. The story of Easter Island is very similar to the current  state of the world.  We have grown into a complex civilization where having electricity and running water is expected, and when something breaks we dispose of it and buy another instead of choosing to repair it. 

It is important for humans to realize that we are not separate from nature. It is common for us to think that we are separate because we do not live outdoors. We live in houses that we built everything that we use we have created and refined from nature and natural resources. I believe that the best way to awaken people and help them realize what is happening to our planet, is to begin by showing them that we are all just things in nature.

During the semester, I have also learned the benefits of mindfulness for personal well-being. Actively meditating everyday is a way to improve social life and relations among each other. In implementing my own mindfulness practices, I have found that it is easier to block everything out and focus on my inner thoughts as well as calm my emotions.  Practicing some form of meditation or mindfulness is something I would recommend to  everyone.

When learning about paradigms and what they are, I looked at my life and realized that I, just like everyone, sees the world through a cognitive filter.  I now know why I see things the way I do, because of my beliefs or values. I believe the reason for some wicked problems being so hard to solve is because every person in the world sees a problem through a different paradigm. Is it possible for people of different beliefs and backgrounds to look at a problem and come to the same understanding?

In learning about free and open markets, I found it easy to know what resources are becoming scarce by looking at the fluctuation of prices. I believe that because companies and industries are driven by how much money they can make, while spending the least in a free and open market. Resources that are in short supply and how a higher price would be used less than other resources that were more abundant and cheaper. Companies would also likely waste less of precious resources. Globalization would give small companies the same opportunity as big companies, enabling smaller companies to grow and explore new ideas across the world without having to establish entities in other countries. Positive globalization would be good and increase the standards of living across the globe while allowing the world to become more sustainable. 

When focusing on the wicked problems in the interior design and fashion industries, I found not everyone has a different way of looking at the problem. In fashion, the word itself implies change, in the reading the author describes fashion as something that isn’t style but soon will no longer be. As a designer it is important to have a mindset of long-lasting products that encourage durability throughout the fashion world. More sustainable practices would develop in the fashion industry if long lasting products were encouraged rather than fast fashion. I found that designing for humility is a very interesting way at addressing the problem. To know that whatever we designed will not be appropriate in the future places as little burden on the planet as possible.

For my infographic project, my group focused on the problem of housing safety in over populated areas of less-developed countries.  Some people say that housing safety and slums could be improved by water quality, but others say air quality is what needs to be addressed. The common current problem is that major health risks are involved in slums. Welding safety is always evolving to be more sustainable and safe. If the housing issue is not resolved soon, the problem will only get worse. Many studies focus on improving health outcomes for urban and rural slums by involving the infrastructure. Population in urban areas of the world is ever-increasing meaning that the conditions of slums are spiraling downward. Studies show that improving slum household infrastructure can lead to the improvement of health in these areas. Some of the most common problems in slums are accessibility to clean water, solid waste collection, electricity, storm weather drainage, accessibility to roads, and home improvements. The other main issue is the association between child immunization and health in these areas. Immunizations are one of the most cost-effective ways to provide public health. Research shows that immunization in slums is especially important because residents are overexposed due to high-density living conditions. These are just some of the issues that interior designers face when addressing housing safety in over-populated areas. 

In all of these topics, embracing balance is key to coming closer to a  solution, whether it be in fashion, interior design or any other kind of design. Working together, as well as helping those in need, will only lead to a more sustainable future. Throughout the semester while talking to friends and family, I have been able to open some of their eyes and show them why it is so important for us to change the way we live. It is my hope It that even after this class, my circle of influence will increase, and I will be able to influence people’s opinion on the importance of sustainability.

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