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Philosophy

Designing for the Future

At Further Degree, we believe to design ethically, we have to look to the future. Focusing solely on solving today’s needs is a short-sighted use of resources that yields short-term solutions; it’s bad for business and for society. Charting the future trajectory of market needs and the long-term social and environmental impact of our products and offerings is fundamental to our practice.

Written by
Laura Vaughn

At Further Degree, we believe to design ethically, we have to look to the future. Focusing solely on solving today’s needs is a short-sighted use of resources that yields short-term solutions; it’s bad for business and for society. Charting the future trajectory of market needs and the long-term social and environmental impact of our products and offerings is fundamental to our practice.

More than a mindset

In human-centered design work, we recognize that there’s a philosophy behind our thinking that directly affects what we make. We call that philosophy a set of mindsets and work to articulate them to expose and be conscious of the factors driving our work. 

While mindsets like this are key to successfully navigating the design process, they are missing a critical component: accountability. Inspired by the Hippocratic Oath and similar pledges from a few tech companies, we at Further Degree see a need to go beyond mindsets and adopt an oath.

If a mindset is an approach, an oath is the north star.

In a world that is more complex and connected than ever before, everything we put into market carries widespread implications for the future. This means that all businesses, of any size and offering, will shape the future whether they are cognizant of it or not.

Where mindsets define the attitudes we can adopt overtime, oaths define the actions we vow to always be accountable for. A well-crafted oath will identify your priorities and convey the gravity of your decisions. These pledges point to desired outcomes for the greater good.

Oath Inspiration

As we work to develop our own oath at New Futures, we found a few inspiring oaths and resources we wanted to share. 

Design Ethically

This template from Design Ethically breaks down the structure and an example to help you craft your own oath.

The Design Vanguard Pledge

This pledge outlines ten ethical actions for designers to commit to in their work.

Designer’s Oath

The Designer’s Oath is a tool that helps multidisciplinary teams define the ethical guidelines of their engagement. Here is a template they developed to walk through with your team.

*Adapted and updated from a 2020 post under the brand New Futures Lab. New Futures Lab was a design incubator focused on the future of food packaging through explorations in Food Mobility—the equitable and sustainable movement of nutrients through communities, from cultivation to consumption to value-recapture. Sunsetted in 2021, Further Degree was the managing partner of the Lab.

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