Why I chose to study Design for Change
I chose ECA because it was one of the only places in the UK offering a programme like Design for Change, where I could mix my social science background with creative practices. The programme acknowledges the need to truly be transdisciplinary and offers you the opportunity to develop theoretical and practical skills that are relevant for the current global challenges.
ECA was also appealing because of the opportunity to study modules from other courses and learn alongside peers from different disciplines. The campus itself also provided a great location from which to get to know Edinburgh.
My time at ECA
One of the things I enjoyed the most during my time at ECA, was the opportunity to develop my skills in a variety of fields. On the one hand I was learning how to do 3D animation and on the other I was conducting primary research to improve the university's greenspaces policy.
I also had the opportunity to do a work-based dissertation with the Scottish Food Coalition, and both the programme staff and my employer were flexible and supportive, allowing me to develop a project guided by my interests. This project was the design of a Decolonial Workshop Toolkit based on building community awareness and engagement with the food system and how to make it more socially and environmentally sustainable.
I also found the opportunity to walk around ECA and meet people from different departments as well as attend events like the Custom Design show and a Zine workshop incredibly inspiring.
My experiences since graduating
Doing a work-based dissertation allowed me to leave ECA feeling confident that the skills I learned could be put to use in the field I wanted to work in. I saw myself using my creative and workshop development skills to support community participation in designing better food systems through a decolonial perspective. In both of the projects I am involved in, Dignity in Practice and the Fork to Farm Dialogues, I have had the opportunity to do exactly this.
Additionally, I am currently working with people from around the world to bring together farmers and policy-makers so that they can work together to tackle climate change. One of the stops of this project is COP26, an event that I would have never imagined I would be actively involved with!
One of my biggest achievements since leaving ECA has been to introduce and actively push for a decolonial approach to our work which I have now seen feed into our projects.
My time at ECA gave me the opportunity to bring together food, creative practices and decoloniality in a safe and nurturing space. This enabled me to confidently put what I had learned into practice in my current work.
My advice to new and current students
Try everything, however random it seems. ECA offers the brilliant opportunity to choose modules from a wide array of fields - use this to learn about something you’re curious about, even if it seems to be outside of your field. I would also recommend that you keep aware of the different events going on in different departments, it is a great way to be inspired, learn new skills and meet people!
For someone graduating, I would say that more and more creative practices are being recognised as crucial for positive social and environmental change and that they’ve just graduated with a tool that can really help tackle global challenges.