Wicked Problems: The Class Ended, but the Problems Continue

During this course, I contributed to my learning community by offering points of concern for discussion. For debate articles, I was placed on the yes authors’ side and explained to the others in my group the argument the authors were making concerning sustainability and the economy. During our first reading discussion, I shared with my learning community that the competition between the different clans on Easter Island was a significant factor in the islander’s downfall. For the second reading discussion, I read about how globalization and the free market economy help fuel sustainability. I explained the Environmental Kuznets Curve that the author used to support their argument and the author’s argument concerning property rights. After reading about the concept of fashion in week three, I focused on aesthetic obsolescence in our group discussion, which sparked a conversation about whether designers should design for style or longevity, or if it is possible to do both. During the fourth week, I read the yes author’s argument that the poor are not victims of environmental degradation, but are instead a large cause of ecological degradation. My learning community considered this argument when we discussed large corporations giving to the poor to help the environment because they have the resources to give back. For week five, I read the argument that supported the use of the market to create a more sustainable environment. During my group discussion, I contributed more information on emission taxes to the members who read the opposing article. I wish that we had more time to discuss competition and poverty and the relationship between these two concepts and the environment.

This course has left me with some significant takeaways. First, the design industry needs to move in a more sustainable direction if we want to see any positive environmental change. As expressed at the end of the 11th Hour film, our job is to create entirely new designs for both buildings and apparel that will support a more sustainable culture. Second, once our society’s mindset shifts away from consumerism, we will not be as wasteful. The design industry is a prominent creator of waste, as designers are always coming up with projects and are trying to keep up with the latest trends. If our society moved away from thinking that new is better and having more shows status, there would be less waste accumulated. Third, poverty and environmental quality go hand in hand. There are people in this world who are struggling to stay alive and do not get the privilege of worrying about the environment. Everything these people do is to make whatever money they can off the natural resources they have. This creates an endless cycle of destroying the environment for money, needing more money, destroying the environment further, needing money even more, and repeating the process. With this in mind, it is essential for those who are in the position to help do so by giving to those less fortunate and protecting the environment.

We have discussed many interesting and complex problems throughout this course. One issue that I have taken away from this course that I would like to dive deeper into is energy consumption in buildings. Out of total energy consumption, buildings account for more than a third. The energy that is fueled by burning fossil fuels releases large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The more greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, are present in the atmosphere, the faster global warming becomes. Therefore, the way that designers are currently designing buildings is only contributing to global warming. A solution to this issue would be to find ways to implement cleaner, renewable energy in buildings. One idea mentioned at the end of the 11th Hour film that I found interesting was the idea of recreating structures to process energy similar to trees. Finding new ways to make buildings run self sufficiently off of energy forms like solar power is an important study area for designers. I want to research more into this in the future and see what ideas they currently have and how we could turn these ideas into action. Another area I would like to look at is government policy and how it could create a more sustainable culture. In class, we discussed how as much as we want to believe that people will change their current ways to better the environment, it is improbable that people would do this without requirement. We also touched on how, without government policy, it is unlikely that large corporations will consider the environment when trying to make a profit. I would like to look further into what these policies would entail to shift us to a more sustainable society, and the process it would take to get us there.

Everyone can impact positive change in their circle of influence. It all starts with the mindset one holds. This course has taught me the importance of meditation and the many different ways that you can practice meditation. If I take a moment to meditate and regroup and put my problems into perspective, then I can be more conscious about the decisions I am making and how they will reflect on my circle and me. Meditation is a beneficial tool that helps one to center themselves. My actions also serve as an example to my circle of influence of what I think is right and wrong. If I were to dispose of my trash and recycle properly, my circle might feel that they need to recycle. If I were to thrift my clothes instead of buying new ones, my friends may come with me. If I were to use reusable water bottles instead of single-use plastic water bottles, then the people in my circle would see that the alternative to having something new isn’t bad. The examples that we set influences the people closest to us. Sometimes this is consciously, and sometimes the influence is subconscious. Either way, how we act can have a positive impact on our circle of influence.

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