The first Cumulus conference hosted in Africa took place this September in lovely Johannesburg at the Greenside Design Center (GDC) and the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA). The ‘Design with the other 90%: Changing the world by design’ conference was a wonderful opportunity to discuss the role of design in social advancement with like-minded designers and educators from across the globe.

Presentations revolved around the role of art and design in sustainable social advancement, particularly in the context of the African Continent. The conference also addressed three subthemes, including (1) Respect and Responsibility: exploring the social responsibilities of designers in their engagements with communities in a variety of social, cultural and political contexts; (2) Socially Responsible Design Education: highlighted the importance, as well of challenges, of design education in furthering sustainable and socially responsible design; (3) Sustainability: focused attention on the economic and environmental aspects of sustainable design.

Following a double-blind peer review process, I was accepted to present the paper “My water, my change: Confronting global water concerns through cross-cultural collaboration” (written with Kelly Murdoch–Kitt) during the conference activities. The research critically engages with the importance of addressing global water concerns through cross-cultural design endeavors.

For many of us, this was our first trip to South Africa and we made sure to visit the Apartheid Museum to honor the history of this dynamic country.