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E-M:/ Students to Develop Solutions to Global Water Crisis in First Annual "Aspen Design Challenge"

Students to Develop Solutions to Global Water Crisis in First Annual "Aspen Design Challenge"

AIGA, Circle of Blue and INDEX launch "Designing Water's Future"

NEW YORK, COPENHAGEN and TRAVERSE CITY - August 18, 2008 - AIGA, the professional association for design, today issued an ambitious call to the next generation of creative thinkers in its first annual Aspen Challenge, "Designing Water's Future." In association with INDEX: of Copenhagen and Traverse City-based Circle of Blue, the international contest challenges cross-disciplinary student teams to develop design solutions that explore new ways of understanding and responding to the global water crisis.

The rules and guidelines for the challenge were distributed to thousands of faculty and students at more than 250 universities from Beijing to Boston, and are available to all with the launch of the Aspen Design Challenge website.

"The global water crisis is a universally threatening and immensely complex problem," said J. Carl Ganter, director and co-founder of Circle of Blue, the international network of leading journalists, scientists and communications designers that reports and presents the information necessary to respond to the global freshwater crisis. "The causes are many — climate change, population growth, over-use — and the ramifications are felt in all areas from environment to security to economic development. This is where we need design students to step in. Design is the intermediary between information and understanding. Students will have the fresh perspective we need." 

Water crisis
More than five million people die each year due to a lack of safe drinking water, and the UN estimates that 5.5 billion people will lack adequate access to freshwater in the next 20 years. Water scarcity has emerged as a serious threat to peoples across the world, including those in traditionally water-rich regions such as the Great Lakes. Called "the new oil" for the 21st century, water affects everything.

Details of “Designing Water’s Future” were previewed by Brian Collins, one of the originators of the program and chairman of COLLINS:, the New York-based transformation design firm, during a commencement speech he delivered Saturday at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.

The initiative grew out of session led by Collins and Ganter during the January 2008 World Economic Forum conference in Davos, Switzerland.

"The water crisis needs creativity and care—and it needs it now," Collins said. "Designers can inspire audiences to take action and inform people who may be separated by geography, education or immediate need. Our goal is to enlist a new generation of design thinkers to find smarter ways to communicate this problem, and drive local action and solutions.” 

Students and faculty from around the world will develop ideas this fall and submit proposals by December 2008. Already there are commitments from schools in Australia, China, Denmark, Qatar and the United States. An international jury of accomplished leaders in the design and environmental fields will select contest finalists in February 2009. 

The student projects will be presented at significant international forums such as the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009. The most promising project will receive The INDEX:|AIGA Aspen Design Challenge Prize in August in Copenhagen.

Full details are online at
Circle of Blue: Aspen Design Challenge