Socially Responsible Design: Breadline Shoes for Children in India
Editor: Boks W; Ion, W; McMahon, C and Parkinson B
Author: Schaber, Friedemann
Section: SUSTAINABLE DESIGN
Active learning happens to us when we participate in projects meaningful to us and engage with the real world.  Correspondingly, this paper explores the role of Design students in industry and
research collaboration ultimately benefitting the poor. This paper presents a case study, a live client project initially aimed at free shoes to be offered to children in India as part of getting them to school regularly; drawing from comparative research expertise residing within the author’s university on the footwear supply chain, waste management, knowledge transfer and the global market, and pedagogic research on engaging students in co-learning. The case study reviews an ongoing undergraduate project with students in the United Kingdom, which has been taking place in conjunction with the British School of Leather Technology and a footwear manufacturer based in Chennai, India. In response to real needs, the students are encouraged in negotiating research across disciplines, shadowing podiatrists within clinical practice, and in creating prototypes of shoe and sandal parts. While students learn to develop their own designs into feasible samples, they were also encouraged to apply the relevant design and production methods, with consideration of appropriate technologies suitable for manufacturing in an Indian community or ‘cottage-industry’ context. Finally, the paper discusses the roles of students, researchers and educators in the project and the benefits derived from an association with multiple partners in the teaching of socially responsible Design. It will be shown that design learning at the University itself changes with new collaborations across cultures and integrated projects that are supporting kinaesthetic learning styles. A new generation of students will be equipped with skill sets to realise appropriate and practical solutions that can move people out of poverty in a sustainable manner.