I have a background in the Arts. I studied art and dance, and in my professional life I both perform myself, and I orchestrate events. I am a creative. When I enrolled on this course I was at a turning point. I wanted to weave sustainability into everything I did – how I live, how I eat, what I wear, where I go – everything, including how I make my living. In truth, when I saw this course advertised I felt like it had been written especially for me, and I wasn’t disappointed. I love the way the course is laid out. I love the way the learnings are delivered, and the nice mix between hands-on and interactive, all of the time working with informed and knowledgeable instructors, deeply set in the academic and practical role of design thinking in sustainability.

The Graduate Diploma in Design Thinking for Sustainability is now accepting applications for September 2023. 90% and 100% funded places available to eligible candidates.

The course served as a catalyst for me. I had enrolled with the seed of an idea, the core essence of which is that simple things can, over time, make a big difference. The power of simple actions. I was particularly looking at St. Patrick’s Day and the idea of expressing our national pride through sustainable actions – so rather than wearing something green to celebrate the day, doing something green to celebrate the day.

On the graduate diploma, Friday morning sessions were called ‘the Greenhouse Project.’ We were invited to set aside a few hours to develop ideas we were playing with and wanted to build into something real. It was a lovely and open session working together in small groups, and I decided to bring up my St. Patrick’s Day idea, which I had kickstarted the year before, but wanted to build into something more.

My teammates jumped onboard and through the process of design thinking, the Green Roots Project was born. We began with a simple question ‘How will you go Green?’ We highlight the myriad ways we can promote sustainability while we celebrate our national feast days, and deliver tailor made campaigns and solutions.

Two years later, five of us, teammates who met through these Friday morning sessions, continue to work together on The Green Roots Project. 

Our ‘Grow Your Own Green Cloak’ campaign for schools has received funding through the Irish government’s Education for Sustainable Development 2030 (ESD 2030).

We are a diverse group – multigenerational, multi-cultural, and from various different disciplines, something that I think is fundamental if we are going to tackle the challenges, and embrace the opportunities that lie ahead of us. And while we may have met, eventually, because we are all on the sustainability route, we certainly would not have met within this open and creative space where people are coming together and sharing their ideas.

We use design thinking for every project we work on. Each school we work with has different characteristics and we work closely with teachers to build prototypes that are tailored to their needs. We’re currently working with a number of schools, community groups, businesses, and individuals, and every time we meet with a new contact, it’s a process of figuring out where they are, what they want to do, and what’s important to them. Then we develop the project together based on this collaboration.

I learned through this course that you might not land on the solution immediately, and you have to be okay with that. You might think you have found the solution, and you might work and work and work towards it and then realise that actually, this isn’t the one, so you need to go back to the drawing board, look at your original information again, get up and try again. Design thinking really leans into that kind of ‘try again’ mindset. You only have to get up one more time. Every time you fall down, you just have to get up one more time.

When we talk about sustainability, things can seem bleak, particularly when we think about the science and what feel like insurmountable challenges. And then you have design thinking and you’re like, what if we took the problems out of the way? How can we work around this? How can we design something together? The course opened things up in terms of possibilities.

I would say to anyone who is considering this course, ‘do it!’ Do it with an open mind and bring all of your energy to it, and allow yourself to have the experience where you will meet some amazing people, and bring your ideas to life. This course gave me the opportunity to remain true to the person I am and the work I was already doing, and propel forward my belief that simple actions have real power. And, it was a lot of fun.