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Designing Change with Willemina Wahlin

February 22, 2021

It's been a tough day today but I'm so excited and motivated to share with you this amazing conversation with our guest today! You know how you can feel your state change and your mood lift, just by thinking about something you're looking forward to? That's what this episode was like for me!

Meet Dr. Willhemina Wahlin. She is a Lecturer in Design and the Acting Associate Head of School for Charles Sturt University’s School of Communication and Creative Industries. She is also the creative director for the New York-based non-profit organization, PROOF: Media for Social Justice, which uses visual storytelling for social justice and human rights advocacy.

Her work focuses on the role that design plays in promoting civic engagement, upstander behavior, and social cohesion. She has designed over 15 traveling exhibitions that have been displayed internationally. Since 2017, she has been a member of Port Macquarie-Hastings Council’s Cultural Steering Group.

'Willie' (as she's known to her friends) grew up moving often due to family and work factors, but she doesn't regret it. In fact she appreciates the opportunity for growth and how this exposed her to social networks, strengthened her emotional intelligence and propelled her to human-centred work that requires soft skills like kindness, empathy and understanding.

This is an insightful conversation about the creative process. Willie underscores some very important roles of education—bringing human skills to the industry, developing soft skills, cross-curriculum projects, and project-based learning. And her philosophy around becoming the 5Cs so as educators we can live to inspire others!

If you can see how understanding the creative process helps you to live a more holistic, impactful ife, then you NEED to take the Lifestyle Design Quiz after listening to this podcast. The Lifestyle Design process will show you how to leverage your strength and your focus for growth and make your next smart move.

Here's the highlights:

  • [03:51] Moved around a lot growing up and got tested on emotional intelligence as kids by these different and often changing social environments. But these social networks became very important and influential to my path and education.

  • [08:03] It's really important that at some point to feel like an outsider and try a bit harder to understand people. That drives empathy. And a lot of what we need these days are soft skills like empathy and multi-perspectivism.

  • [10:11] From a Uni lecturer's perspective, literacy level is a critical point in this country. But critical thinking, which goes hand in hand with empathy, is also very important.

  • [11:19] An important role of educators is the 5 Cs: creativity, critical thinking, creative processes, collaboration, and communication. These are the things that we need to be driving education towards. The things that humans can do that AI can't do.

  • [13:22] We must find ways how to knowledge together. Our role as educators is to push back where we see gaps.

  • [14:14] Cultural Arts: things that bring magic to life and backed with real researches on how it impacts societies. Yet there's movement away from it—defunding, arts programs shutting down.

  • [15:21] Education comes back to values and making room for different values.

  • [17:08] Government-funded institutions like universities ultimately reflect the values of the government and the political landscape around it. So our role is to understand what we can and can't do, where we can innovate and push for those innovations. The focus should be on the social impact.

  • [21:30] Foster a shared space that encourages methods of problem-solving, empathy, and mutual learning. Such space teaches a lot about critique and analytical skills as well. Design is transformed into a way of thinking, problem-solving, and connecting.

  • [24:17] Creativity always sits at the heart of anything. It is born into everybody. We are born with all of the faculties to be creative but it has to be enhanced through training.

  • [25:06] Don't worry about making mistakes. Beautiful things have come out of mistakes. It is part of the intuitive process.

  • [25:47] Encourage kids to be confident to support their ideation process.

  • [28:41] Creative Citizen Project uses the design thinking methodology. Give students the tools and then let them go and let them explore.


"It's important for everyone to feel like an outsider at some stage in their life."

- Willemina Wahlin


Links mentioned in this episode:

>> Design Practice Research

>> Ligatures of Life


>> Lifestyle Design Quiz


You can now enjoy this episode on your favourite podcast site!

Listen on itunes
Watch The Blueprint with slides on YouTube




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