Overview of Events

Mission Statement
The Design Learning Network offers learners of all ages opportunities to embrace
design as a “pedagogical” approach to teaching and learning best practices – our goal
is for learners to become confident and creative problem-solvers, take ownership of
their learning, and make good choices


K-12 teachers and students, college design students, entrepreneurs, and design professionals joined co-facilitators Doris Wells-Papanek, Director of the Design Learning Network, Alison Crane, Teacher Lead from Blue Valley North High School, and Jessica Fertig, Kansas City Design Week Liaison at this first-of-its-kind Jobs in the Year 2050 Challenge on Saturday, March 1, 2014. 

Worldwide preparations for the Jobs in the Year 2050 Challenge took place at the University of Lincoln on February 11-13, 2014. This first of its kind event invited a creative network of industry-leading designers, artists, educators, and design students from the UK, the USA, Spain, and China to collaborate with over 500 K-12 students from around the world. 

K-12 teachers and students tackled over fifty-four problems worth solving within their classroom, school, neighborhood, or community – the goal was to create innovative outcomes that result in positive impact.

Over five-hundred K-12 teachers and students alongside college design students engaged in creating a Design Day Event, Design Project, or Design Awareness Campaign – the goal was to generate a contextual story with content supported by a beginning, middle, and end.

Eleven self-motivated and dedicated college design students created nine design integration plans after investigating a study question and partnering with a learning organization – the goal was to offer fodder to two design high schools as they refined their curriculum models.


STEM Challenge Workshop: Eighty K-12 teachers, museum educators, and college educators engaged in “The Life of a Honeybee in the Year 2050” – framed by content experts to then gain firsthand experience with the design learning process as collaborative teams in the United States at Columbia College Chicago and at the University of Lincoln in the United Kingdom on August 24, 2013.

Each day $7 million worth of cell phones are lost or stolen around the globe. On April 19, 2013, Design Learning Challenge Workshop participants of IDSA's Midwest Conference explored why cell phones are at risk of being lost or stolen to then designed targeted, sustainable, and innovative solutions that will lead to a sizable reduction in the phenomena. 

Sixty K-12 teachers gathered from all parts of the Northeast to engage in the design learning process and to explore, experience, and apply what they learned during the workshop in real time.

High school students today are hungry and ready to learn. However, upon graduation, many young adults are often expected to direct their life without requisite knowledge and skills. During an intensive workshop held at the 2012 IDSA Midwest Design Dialogue Conference in Chicago, a group of at-risk high school students from Waukegan, IL were invited to participate in a pre-conference workshop with design practitioners and college students.

Sixty gifted and creative high school freshman from the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts engaged in the design learning process as they prepared for an architectural Charrette focused on the design of new classroom spaces.


This year's symposium will take place on Sept 19-21 in Boston, Massachusetts. K-16 educators of art, design, the humanities, STEM subjects, as well as administrators, visionaries, and industry leaders who have a passion for engaging students in innovation-based challenges are welcome to attend. Enrollment is limited to ensure optimal learning interactions and network engagements. Registration will be posted soon.

On Saturday, November 10, 2012, a working group of fifty like-minded, yet diverse participants considered the following critical question: What level of impact might design as pedagogy for teaching and learning have on 21st century student learning? Held at the Henry Ford Academy, participants focused on the integration of creativity, problem solving, and innovation.