Future-Facing Designers: Empathy and Designing with Sustainability in Mind

Do I understand, intellectually and emotionally…
I hope so.  I’d like to consider myself empathetic and emotionally literate, and sensitive to the opinions and feelings of others.  I guess I’ve always found it useful to have a few layers of understanding of a situation in order to better understand it myself.
…my own feelings, thoughts and motivations – and whether or not I care?
I feel quite engaged with this project, particularly as we’re dealing with the environmental aspects of a Healthy University, and how this affects students as the target audience.  It’s something I’m passionate about away from university, so useful to explore this further.  I care because it’s important to me that we as students have somewhere positive and welcoming to socialise and study.  As Graphic Communicators within the University, I think it’s pertinent that we have this opportunity to be a voice for the student population and create a dialogue between the ‘business’ (University) and the ‘customers’ (Students).  My motivations lie in wanting to help create somewhere that is more student focused,
…the feelings, thoughts and motivations of other people – and whether or not I care about them?
It’s important within the University to be aware that you are an individual, but also one of very many as part of the student population.  Typically I think that the outside world believes us to be selfish and lazy individuals gathering en masse and wasting a lot of money.   I think if we were more engaged with our surroundings and wanted to have our say in how we sculpt the environment around us, would not only help us to function better in our environment, but ensure that we create the feeling of being a socially conscious and aware society within the University.
…how capable I am of embracing, entering into and valuing another person’s feelings, thoughts and motivations – and whether or not I want to?
(e.g. How might I come to see other people’s points-of-view? What might I want to do in response?)
How do we create design for people who don’t care?


Here are four questions for you to answer in your own blog and together as a team, to guide your empathic creativity:
We’re not looking for ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’ answers. No, instead we’re asking for your honest, real, genuine thoughts, your willingness to have a go, and get involved…
1 : How do people actually behave? 
1a : What do you think is influencing their behaviour – what’s going on in their thoughts?
2 : How would I want people to behave?
3 : Why do I want people to behave in a particular way?
4 : How might I learn to empathise with people, in order to create mutually-beneficial design?
Who are ‘stakeholders’?
The original meaning of this term related to how people contributed to an organisation’s existence.
Its meaning has since broadened to include any person who has an interest in a given activity.
Within these definitions, we recognise that there are three kinds of stakeholder:
1 : Primary Stakeholders 
– people who are directly engaged with, a part of, and have an interest in, an organisation’s objectives;
2 : Secondary Stakeholders 
– people outside an organisation who are actively interested in, can affect, and are affected by that organisation’s activities;
3 : Excluded Stakeholders 
– people outside the organisation who have no interest in an organisation’s objectives but whose lives are affected by its activities.
A sustainable definition of ‘stakeholder’
But from our point-of-view, nobody nor anything is excluded. So when we consider how we develop and nurture healthy, inclusive, life-giving sustainability, we now offer an expanded interpretation…
…to include, ‘any person, biodiverse life, ecosystem and environment which is affected directly and systemically by our activities’.
This definition highlights the fact that we are actually all connected with one another and with our wider world, whether or not we are aware of it. 
Our activities do indeed affect somebody and something else, either directly or consequentially.
For this reason we do well do nurture our abilities to empathise.
Future-facing creativity isn’t the same as the creativity of the past. We’re no longer ‘serving’ the demands of industrialisation. No, instead we’re reconnecting with our real (authentic) humanity. Empathy is a foundational need. It underpins our care, our love which lasts for one another and the wider world. 
So, in using this definition, here’s a research question for you as a team, to begin with:
who are the ‘stakeholders’ to be affected by your creativity, here on this Real World Healthy University project?
(…and, in thinking about your future creativity also, who and what will be affected by any project you have yet to design?)

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