World Economic Forum: Design and Global Challenges

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Harvard Graduate School of Design Trade Workshop
October 14, 2010

Faculty from Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Kennedy School of Government, Law School, School of Public Health, Business School, and Graduate School of Design who are members of Global Agenda Councils will participate in the panel discussions and workshops. Design students and faculty, as hosts for the program, will be integrated into the discussions as agents of change.

3432: Global Redesign Project | Toshiko Mori

As the host of this event at the GSD, the seminar group will pose questions that deal with the environment, space and design to reformulate and invigorate the discourse with dimensional and systematic thinking at multiple scales: the design process of architects and designers.

Trade Workshop

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Collaborators: Jonathan Bailey, Shelby Doyle, Dongsei Kim, Robert Lawrence, Victor Sanz, Hashim Sarkis, Jonathan Bailey

We opened our discussion today with a video about avocados, cell phones and golden rings. We focused our comments around the concept of trade as a product and a process. We structured our discussion around the following six questions, which like good academics, we answered the questions with more questions:

1. What are the benefits of trade and why does trade cause them?

Trade increases global welfare, promotes an exchange of skills and products, fosters political interaction, creates a platform for dialogue, increases efficiency of production, allows for better access to goods and rights, allows for consumer choice at a world scale.

2. What are the costs of trade and why does trade cause them?

Externalities: specialization breeds interdependence and potential conflict over goods, developing countries may struggle in competition with developed countries, environmental degradation, labor rights, and limited access to economic opportunities based on country of residence.

3. What are the patterns of global trade and why does trade flow in certain directions?

Patterns are shaped both by what is produced and why it is produced. The level of existing development and wealth of a country also influence patterns. Governmental policies and barriers direct the flows and patterns of trade. Is access to trade markets controlled by a new imperialism where large countries use their influence to make demands on smaller countries? How do we ensure that these flows are fair and balanced?

4. Does trade require global institutions and global rules?

Global trade institutions provide structure, protection, norms and a professionalization of the trade processes. Inversely these institutions are slow, complex, and smaller countries struggle for influence. How can we create institutions, which are responsive and flexible? How can we change the power realities of consensus-based trade? How can we create standards that translate globally and use of quality measures and definitions, which do not inhibit trade? What sort of evidence should we be basing these decisions upon? Can trade be controlled through a democratic institution – should it be a consensus-based or a coalition of the willing?

5. How do we balance global benefits from trade with the politics and needs of individual countries?

Should trade legislate beyond its immediate concerns, such as tariffs? Trade represents a well-enforced global system, should other issues use this system to their advantage such as environmental and social concerns? Or do these issues overload the trade system? How can we balance the global benefits of trade with the political and needs of individual countries? Should there be a system of legal recourse when trade policies are unjust?

6. How does the flow of trade shape the way we design our cities and develop our countries?

Trade is at the heart of development and of the spaces of cities? What does the spaces of trade look like in 50 years? Will these spaces be different from the ports, roadways and markets of today? Will trade no long be about objects and products? Instead will we trade education? Information? Intellectual Property? Services? Where will producers and consumers interact? Which materials will we use and which ideas are transferred with these goods?


  • Filed under: Exhibition, Research