I recently had the pleasure of addressing senior graphic design students from Central Connecticut State University, not about design, but what design allows for—the future.
Making Possibility Real
At the core of my lecture was the concept that design (Graphic Design and its other forms) is a practice that has the capacity to convey a future possibility in a way that compels people to act and make that possibility real.
If design helps convert possibility into reality, then what kind of future do these students want for their world? Here are the key themes they discussed.
They want a world where:
- Everyone has access to the same resources and opportunities
- There is empathy for and connection with each other
- We live in partnership with the planet
Nice ideas and all, but…
I impressed upon these students that words are interesting, but words alone don’t change anything. New ideas can be exciting, but are a dime a dozen. 99% of the effort is converting an idea into reality, and committing to do what it takes is the only way to make any real difference.
Are they willing to work for it?
This group of students seemed more interested in making a difference vs. just adding more noise to the world. I believe them, and here is why.
- They are interested in more than just having a job, they want their work to matter. Why is this important? Doing good by creating value where it didn’t exist might begin to outweigh simply taking as much as you can from what already exists.
- They are natural collaborators and are masters of the tools and technology of instant connection. Why does this matter? The challenges of the future are bigger than us, we need to work together in new ways to overcome them.
- They have seen the promises of every large-scale institution fall apart. They are more skeptical of what exists and willing to invent a better option.
How do we make way for them?
- Next time you see a millennial with their face buried in their phone, assume they are connecting with their friends to get something important done. Ask them about what they are solving for, and the tools they use and how to use them.
- When they challenge the way things are, don’t be so quick to call them entitled. Ask them about what they see isn’t working and draw out their ideas for how to change it.
- Remind them that they are the first generation that has access to the world’s information the tools to connect each other and the resources they need to create whatever they want, for free. Ask them what are they going to do with that gift.
Want more from Fathom?
Sign up to receive updates about our articles.