News –

The trouble with specialists

Our goals are interconnected but our specialists aren’t

The modern world is built on the separate foundations of multiple specialists, but the challenges we face are deeply interconnected.

The underlying causes of ill health are social, economic, environmental and cultural, but our healthcare profession is restricted from applying solutions outside of their domain, which means that the tools in their toolkit are clinical care, drugs and medical technologies. 

In 1987, the Brundtland Report, argued that the causes of our multiple ecological crises are poverty and wealth. Poverty causes local degradation as people seek to survive by attacking the land they live on, while the wealthy create global degradation by exceeding planetary limits through excessive consumption and waste. 

Environmentalists have sought to solve these global problems through education, outreach and technological innovation. But 35 years on, we have passed through two of the nine planetary boundaries and are in a zone of uncertainty in two others. Meanwhile, the living planet report estimates that we have lost 70% of our wildlife populations in just under 50 years as we continue to clear forests, consume beyond the limits and pollute on a global scale.

We’d like to think that these interconnected problems are understood by scientific, healthcare and educational specialists, but we’re afraid to say that our organisational and political silos don’t provide space or resources to tackle these problems together.

If you’re an interdisciplinary thinker who is interested in using design to tackle these issues collaboratively, do get in touch.