Making poverty history: alerting industrial design students to the Millennium Development Goals

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The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were adopted by the United Nations as a blueprint for building a better world in the 21st century, with the main strategy being poverty eradication by 2015. To this end, third year Industrial Design students at the University of New South Wales were challenged to investigate issues and explore creative solutions to address hunger, achieve universal primary education, empower women, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat killer diseases, and ensure environmental sustainability. Students chose to remotely design for peoples in Africa, India and Southeast Asia, working on such projects as simplified educational equipment, drinking water safety, malaria and HIV, and minimizing childbirth risks. As part of the preliminary research they interviewed international aid volunteers and relief workers who have had firsthand experiences with working with indigent communities in those countries. The MDG studio project has been helpful in introducing design students to social responsibility and cultural sensitivity, and confronts the typical designers’ approach of targeting primarily end-users in advanced markets. This activity follows a growing trend among proactive design groups to regard the vast majority of the world’s population in the “bottom of the pyramid” as a huge market that is under-served and disadvantaged by design.
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Ramirez, Mariano Jr
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