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Owen Foster, IDSA

Director of Innovation, UT Chattanooga

Quirky and conversational, Owen Foster's journey started as a farm boy in the cotton fields of Alabama, where he began dreaming of how to help the world around him become a better place. Those dreams and life lessons instilled in him on the farm still fuel that passion even today. Owen is a storyteller and shows others that the most powerful way of connecting to people is by relating to them. He believes that every experience is an opportunity to learn something new and that the measure of success is about applying yourself to everything you do.

Owen's background is diverse with experience in architecture, landscape, environmental, and industrial design. He has worked on an extensive array of projects ranging from small consumer products to complete green environments for several municipalities around the world to speaking at global summits.

Though successful in those endeavors, becoming an educator and mentor is his calling. His passion for teaching led him to professorships at Auburn University and the University of Louisiana-Lafayette in the field of industrial design. Recently he held the positions of Industrial Design Group Department chair (industrial design, design management, service design, design for sustainability, the business of design, interaction design, and marine design) and professor at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). Now, as the Director of Innovation in the Honors College at UT Chattanooga, Owen’s goal is to energize students by helping them see the endless possibilities of the creative mindset.

In his most recent venture, Owen is a co-founder, director, and overall ‘Troublemaker’ of Aether Global Learning and SHiFT Design Camp. With an amazing team, he looks to create freethinking empathetic practitioners who will passionately lead their local and global communities through logical discourse, impeccable craft, and sound strategic direction. Owen wants to provide a world-class educational experience through platforms for discovery, creation, and reflection for the global community of makers, thinkers, changers, givers, and leaders.

“Imagine a world in which an entire generation feels prepared and empowered to take on any challenge. Let's teach one another, learn from one another, and come together to create something amazing.”

Education Symposium

Education Symposium Emcee

Sept 13-14, 2022

Main Stage

Day 2 & 3

Emcees help guide the audience through each presentation and main stage session. They'll help to navigate transitions between speakers and conduct live Q^A discussions after each presentation.

Panel Discussion | Not There Yet: The Launch of a Global Conversation

With the rise of reverse mentorship and the influence of the Millennial Generation through Generation Alpha voices, why are organizations still endorsing speakers and collaborators who say the same thing over and over? Why do we keep listening to sales pitches, projects that are obviously greenwashing, or the same old design thinking for the win?

In 2020, the World Design Organization launched a pilot program called the Young Designers Circle. Twenty young designers from around the world came together to bring a new voice to the organization, create projects, deliver impact toward the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and collaborate globally and locally. This group of international future design leaders, now in their second cohort, is ready to establish a brave place, to raise their voice, and say, "Hey, you keep saying we have wonderful ideas, but we are not there yet. As designers, we do not have the influence we should and could have.”

This honest dialogue will address the aim of providing a brave space for young designers and why older generations should listen. Companies and universities should empower their younger voices to speak up and challenge the status quo, because we are constructing the future in which our generation will live. We will announce a global conversation series to have your young designers participate in promoting their voices and impacting the global communities in which we live.

• Meghan Preiss: WDO Board Member and Managing Business Designer, Detroit, MI
• Muhammad Khan: User Experience Researcher, Ottawa, Canada
• Santiago Avella-Perdomo: Student at SCAD | UX Design, Savannah, GA




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