by Ecosa Founder Tony Brown

Part 1 introduced the notion that recent technological advances–variously referred to as automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics–is transforming the workplace and is expected to have a wide and uneven impact on future careers. When it comes to design education, one way to craft a resilient strategy is to learn from nature about the ways it is constantly adapting to change.

To succeed in an evolving digital economy, today’s worker already must combine traditional skills with the ability to “collaborate, communicate and solve problems – skills developed mainly through social and emotional learning” according to a 2016 World Economic Forum report. (See Jenny Soffel’s blog on Webforum for details.) 

Top 10 Skills Employers Will Look for in 2020
  1. Problem solving
  2. Critical thinking
  3. Creativity
  4. People management
  5. Coordinating with others
  6. Emotional intelligence
  7. Judgment and decision making
  8. Service orientation
  9. Negotiation
  10. Cognitive flexibility

Ecosa’s immersive and experiential program limits its semester-long Ecological Design Certificate enrollment to roughly 15 students. Students collaborate on real-world design projects and are encouraged to be self-directed. The projects are often service oriented, for example, a community redevelopment plan or aquaculture design for a fish farm in a Kenyan village. Students travel to more than a dozen cultural, historical and natural sites and explore sustainability strategies from many expert instructors and from a client’s perspective. Not just a project’s client but the most important client you’ll ever have – Nature.

Designers to the Rescue: Solving Complex 21st Century Problems

Inherently, designers seem to see the world as a more fluid environment where many things rarely fit neatly into labels. Most design work involves many collaborators seeking imaginative, maybe even untested, solutions. Success depends on a holistic outlook, diverse knowledge and the ability to seek out and draw in others–in other words, people skills. The previously mentioned report emphasizes that those of us who will continue work in the future will need to be comfortable with change and uncertainty. Young designers will move ahead based on how ready and willing they are to respond with innovation and courage while applying their skills to a wide variety of tasks.

At Ecosa, students are focused on design as a problem-solving skill that can be applied to our environments, architecture, landscapes, food production, energy, communications–really, to almost any facet of our lives. Design can help shape and direct our future and impact our ways of living and interacting with each other and the world around us.

How to Make this New Kind of Future Work for You

This two-part blog series started out asking how can you get the kind of education that will allow the designer in you to weather the changes from technological advancements in artificial intelligence and automation–some of which we can’t even imagine yet. Here are four suggestions to help you form a resilient strategy for your design career:

  1. Don’t rely on someone else providing a job, learn how to become an entrepreneur.
  2. Create your own niche.
  3. Become a trusted and productive collaborator, because in the future teams of entrepreneurs will work together on a project, disband when it is done and go on to other projects.
  4. Learn from the mistakes you and your team make and apply those lessons to your next project.

Ecological Design Changes the World

Gaining a perspective on ecological design and whole systems thinking will guide your actions and decisions throughout the life of your career. Ecological design helps you consider the ways of nature in all facets of design. Our programs offer real-world experiences that can be applied to real-life projects, providing valuable opportunities for group dynamics, collaboration, leadership, camaraderie, and teamwork – skills that future jobs will likely demand.

Read Part 1 Are You Chasing a Job that Won’t Exist in 10 Years?

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