Imagine a world whose design talent focused on solving its most pressing issues, rather than its most lucrative ones.
Better World by Design is a social impact design conference run by students at Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design. It takes an interdisciplinary approach to design, featuring work from diverse disciplines such as architecture, graphic design, and service design. Its flagship three-day annual event convenes a global community for keynote talks, hands-on design workshops, site tours throughout Providence, and nighttime shindigs.
My interest in social impact design began with a visit to the Design for the Other 90% exhibition at the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum. Once I saw that design could help address our collective issues rather than contribute to them, there was no turning back. I created Better World by Design as a venue for exploring the field of social impact design and meeting practitioners in the industry, many of whom I idolized and some of whom became long-term mentors. By the time I graduated, Better World by Design grew to over 1,000 attendees, making it the world's largest student-run design conference. The conference continues under fresh student leadership each year.
For professional attendees, Better World was the perfect dinner party for cultivating the emerging contemporary field of social impact design. For students, it revealed possible paths for meaningful study and practice. For me, it set the stage for all of my work to come.