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2020-21 Briefs Launch

We have launched our 2020-21 design briefs! Eight real-world challenges rooted in big societal problems, open to higher education students and recent graduates around the world.  


At the RSA we believe in a world where everyone is able to create a better future. 2020 has brought into sharp relief some of the major challenges we face, from climate change to Covid-19 to continued racial injustice and structural inequality. But it’s also been a year of growing activism, social movements, hope and desire among many to set out on a different path. 

What do we need to prioritise as we navigate the path forwards? How might we build a more sustainable, equitable and resilient world? What is the future we choose for ourselves and for our descendants? These are the types of questions that inspire the RSA Student Design Awards (SDA).    

The enormity of the issues we face is daunting. But there is a renewed urgency and openness to tackle them. Amidst the disruption, this year has demonstrated that we, our institutions, communities, and businesses retain an impressive ability to experiment and adapt. Previously, in ‘normal times’, the pace and intensity of change and innovation we’ve seen in our neighbourhoods, workplaces and governments would have been deemed too risky, too disruptive or too resource intensive. And yet, we’ve seen that it is possible. Both imagination and experimentation are playing major roles in helping us to adapt and tap into our innate resilience.    

There is a real opportunity to experiment in ways that radically shift thinking, overturn flawed assumptions and promote systemic change on a global scale. Through our briefs we invite you to be ambitious and look to new horizons; to take up Christiana Figueres’ call to action (featured in our Moving Pictures brief) and seize the chance we now have to choose a healthier future for us and our planet. Since 1924, RSA Student Design Awards participants have risen to the challenges of their times.  

In this spirit of ambition, imagination and urgency, how might we provide access to quality health services for underserved communities? How could we harness social media to bridge societal divides? How might we ensure that everyone is guaranteed their human right to clean air? How can we encourage people and communities to think and act for the long term? 

These are just some of the 2020-21 RSA SDA briefs, and we’re calling on you to unravel these issues and explore new possibilities. We can’t wait to see what’s in store this year!  


Natalie Ortiz                                               

Senior Designer, RSA