Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Design for Change Finland

by Anna Keune and Pavan Ramkumar

Design for Change (DfC) is a worldwide school contest that originated from Kiran Bir Sethi's Design for Giving project, in Ahmedabad, India in 2007. Here you can find out more about the global movement: http://www.designforchangecontest.com

DfC is calling children to work for one week on solutions for a local problem they are most drawn towards. The contest aims to give children the opportunity to think critically about their everyday life, form working groups, come up with a plan of action, and act upon it. The global movement has great potential to awaken the talents and awareness of children to participate in shaping their world, by offering a simplified four-step design process toolkit of "feel, imagine, do and share" to children. DfC sends the message that learning can happen through hands-on design practices, and interconnectedness of knowledge domains. During the DFC contest, the teacher's role changes. The teacher becomes a facilitator and learns together with the students.

The DfC contest is specifically targeted to the school environment. With this it is expanding the possibilities that school offers to children by stretching the boundaries from within.

Currently, 22 countries are participating in the global movement including Finland. We set up DfC Finland with 4 volunteers, in the spring of 2010. We performed the four step process with children in Helsinki. The children chose their own content and worked on a campaign to stop Finland from supporting cluster-bombs in war territories, and a pro-cycling blog. You can view a video summarizing the workshop in Helsinki here:

We also conducted an interview with the teacher, who offered us the opportunity to work with the children. You can listen to the experiences of the teacher from Finland here:

Recently, DfC Finland launched an open call for volunteers to help take Design for Change Finland to more schools or youth groups around Finland. School teachers from Oulu and Lapeenranta have expressed interest to participate with their classes.

Last Saturday, we conducted a workshop with Unicef, in which the teachers and students of the Unicef school in Helsinki got to try out part of the DfC process and get inspired. The topic was to develop the Unicef school network in Finland.

On November 20th, the global child rights day, the TEDxYouth will be organized at the Aalto Design Factory in Helsinki. Design for Change Finland will be offering a workshop for children there.

Design for Change, as it originated from India is representative of a trend in how and where innovative ideas originate and spread, sometimes called reverse innovation. It picks up on universal challenges and offers an example of a solution from India to all other parts of the world. Anyone in the world can gain from learning how to become more socially engaged, and collaborate with others based on their own interests.

If you are curious and moved to contribute, do reach the DfC Finland volunteers at