MY CUMULUS+ Story by Johnson K. Wor and Patrick Sserunjogi

Participated in the Cumulus conference Letters to the Future
November 20-23, 2017 in Bengaluru, India
Hosted by the Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology

‘The events of Cumulus Shishti 2017 in Bengaluru, India, may have ended, but the memories certainly linger on.’ Johnson Wor

MY CUMULUS STORY by Johnson Kwame Wor
Lecturer, Department of Graphic Design Technology
Takoradi Technical University, Ghana

The Cumulus Plus grant which gave me the opportunity to participate in the LETTERS TO THE FUTURE conference held in Bengaluru, India between 20th to 23rd November 2017 has gingered the spirit of teaching and learning of design in me. It has rekindled my motivation and makes me perceive Graphic Design as a tool for development in Ghana.

The conference brought academics from all over the world to conduct what I describe as the ‘festival of Arts and Design’. The atmosphere of friendship and networking; as well as colourful display of intellect, culture and tradition was unparalleled.

The many academic activities such as the parallel and PhD sessions and the exhibitions of students’ works made the event intellectually edifying. The research presentations and the PhD sessions opened my mind to other possible research areas to explore in the future. The exhibitions by the Shrishti students were inspirational, and they will undoubtedly impart my work positively back home.

The visits to the design studios, Art walks and workshops also added some adventure to the conference, and they enabled every participant of the conference to get to familiarise him/herselve with the city of Bengaluru. The Art Walks took us round to see great sculpture pieces, paintings and architectural works made by some great Indian artists. It was refreshing to see what students had done, through various exhibitions of artworks, to bring life and aesthetic appeal to the newly-built Indian underground rail station. This, they called, Art in Transit.

The rich and remarkable display of Indian culture and tradition were manifested through the Solo dance performance by Shabari Rao and a live Folk Music performance by Mahesha Ram and his troupe. These performances resonated very well with me since the symbolisms and meanings associated with them has several similarities to Ghanaian culture and traditions as well. In Ghana, for instance, our traditional music such as Agbadza, Adowa, Kete and Kpalogo, among others come with a lot of meanings and symbolisms. Indeed, the performance by Mahesha Ram and his troupe registered itself as the most interesting part of the event to me as most of the participants, including me, displayed our dancing prowess on the night.

Great keynote speakers were also assembled for the conference. Each of these speakers were worth their sort. They include Shabnam Virmani, Sonam Wangchuck, Neelam Chhiber, Pradyumna Vyas and Prof. Ezio Manzini. I drew ten key points from the presentations made by these personalities. These points are as follows:
In the quest to prepare for the future, designers or artists must seize the moment and add value to life in every aspect of human endeavour, be it music, film, architecture or governance, among others.

Education generally needs re-invention in the sense that it must be tailored to practically solve real problems confronting mankind. There is the need for strong partnership with foreign brands and other social partners in solving basic problems that local folks in each country face without leaving the burden of job creation on governments alone. Design thinking and creativity are key in every profession, and countries which uphold them are sure to witness remarkable developments. Design must be made to permeate or to affect each and every facet of human endeavour. Our cities, cultures, traditions, and lives among others, must be designed. Collaboration is key for growth so design educators or institutions must seek collaboration with one another to serve as a catalyst for growth. Design entrepreneurship is vital, and students must be taught entrepreneurship so that the creative ideas learnt in schools can be brought to bear on the field of work. Tradition is no longer a yardstick in how things are done nowadays; hence designers ought not be limited by tradition in the discharge of their works. Students must be helped to appreciate complexities by navigating them so they can become agents of change. The future demands that we “occupy academia” this implies that academics should not only be seen writing and publishing copious papers, but redesign our syllabi to conform to current needs of mankind and proffer solutions to them.

In a nutshell, the events of Cumulus Shishti 2017 in Bengaluru, India, may have ended, but the memories certainly linger on. The great hospitality of the Indian people, the quite chaotic but adventurous transportation system, the spicy foods and the opportunity to extensively network with other academics would be difficult to forget. I thank Cumulus for the opportunity granted me to be part of this awesome event in India.

MY CUMULUS STORY by Patrick Sserunjogi
Assistant Lecturer, Makerere University, Kampala- Uganda

Letters to the future – having understood the letter as a vehicle for a person’s mind of thoughts and ideas. I take this opportunity to express my thoughts through this letter by thanking Cumulus Plus+ for having given me this opportunity to be part of the Cumulus Srishti 2017 conference in Bengaluru India.

I realized that participating in cumulus conference unlocks many opportunities, and for me as a young academician, this forum has heightened my competencies in design research, as well learning to share the acquired knowledge and best practices with fellow design scholars.
Being a Cumulus Plus+ grantee, I greatly enjoyed the chance to meet design like-minded people from so many countries; researchers, practitioners, educators, design activists and all those interested in incorporating design approaches into their work and policies.

This cordial interaction gave me the opportunity to network, learn from one another, and the chance to explore ideas through the presented papers, walks, and workshops.
I would also like to thank everyone who attended for giving so freely of themselves and making the conference to be outstanding and successful occasion. All of us made new friends and contacts and the acquired knowledge can only contribute to the local and global progression of design.

** ABOUT THE PROGRAMME CUMULUS PLUS+

The aim is to create the opportunity for friendship between people and generate partnership and exchange of knowledge between the different institutions. We try to mobilize people from different part of the world where there is not enough individual and institutional linkages with Cumulus members. Cumulus mobilizes candidates with the grant of max 1.500, – € /per person to come over to conferences under the Cumulus umbrella.

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