Our fellowship program primarily engages design students who through projects are introduced to alternative career paths in product design, either working for or with non-profits as contractors, or learning how to be independent designers who employ restorative production systems to their own creations.
The goal is threefold: First to demonstrate how we as designers can divert from standard
industrial-scale product design practice that has adverse impact on environmental and social systems - often through politics, lack of policies or regulation (and ties to the fossil fuel industry), and instead connect designers to people and production systems that address a variety of social and environmental ills.
Secondly we aim to use the energy of the learning experience to push the goals of the non-profit in this mutually beneficial exchange. This also exposes the non-profit world to design demonstrating how design might help forward their mission's goals, leading to potential new opportunities for young, passionate designers.
Lastly, a major tenet of this program, is to introduce students ecological concepts such as 'ecosystem-services' in addition to gaining basic ecologic comprehension. How natural systems function is not common in design-academia. Without this knowledge we cannot begin to address our current production systems.
The above we accomplish through a mix of hands-on work with partnering communities and organizations, and through basic environmental education obtained through research of vegetative systems, social systems, and through the design of every-day products intended for both local and international markets.