A new mission: Design for Life

Unlocking social opportunity through social innovation, to regenerate people, place and planet.

We are at the start of the latest chapter in the RSA’s rich history as a social change organisation. Our new mission paper, Design for Life, and its accompanying programme of change, is underpinned by three closely inter-linked elements that are critical to transition towards better futures for people, place and planet:  social impactsocial opportunity and social innovation

Design for Life

This paper sets out our overall mission for the RSA, however, we leave the detailed design and delivery of the pathways to a co-creative process working with Fellows and Partners.

 Our new mission paper, Design for Life:

  • Sets out our framework for seeing the world; as complex, interconnected and nested, across economic, social and ecological systems.
  • Lays out our understanding of the world as it is, and as it could be
  • Frames The RSA’s place and approach in delivering on our bold new mission
  • Proposes our new Design for Life progamme and invites Fellows and supportive organisations to work with us in partnership to co-design the programme pathways.

Our new mission and programme will focus on people and places whose opportunities are currently most constrained, whether at school, at work, in communities, in companies or across systems. In this way, we will seek to unlock social opportunity for those whose potential is greatest.


Unlocking social opportunity is best achieved by providing people and places the agency, skills, opportunities and connections to be innovative, creative and entrepreneurial at all stages of their lives, from early years to adulthood. That is what we mean by social innovation. This creates the driving force towards social impact that contributes to resilient communities, rebalanced places, and a regenerative planet.

We need to move from reactive crisis management, to proactive re-imagining of the future state; from doing less harm, to doing more good; from extracting for short-term gains to replenishing for the long-term and future generations. 

The Design for Life programme proposes a whole lifecycle and cross-system portfolio of social opportunities to unlock potential for social impact. It introduces seven pathways that will define the RSA’s future change programme, these are:

Early years | Pupils | Students | Entrepreneurs | Places | Companies | Systems 

This is a staging post paper. It will set out our overall mission for the RSA, however, we leave the detailed design and delivery of the pathways to a co-creative process working with Fellows and Partners. In time, each of the pathways will have a designated space as part of the RSA’s new digital platform to enable this co-creation.

At this point, we:

  • Welcome comments on the paper to inform this process
  • Welcome expressions of interest in participating in this co-creative process

Download: Design for Life (PDF, 2.2 MB)

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