Global Positive Design Initiative (GPDI)

The last 10 years, we have witnessed a growing interest in “positive design” – design that aims to promote or support the wellbeing of individuals or communities. Positive design, with its intimate relation to happiness, has the promise of establishing a culture of humane innovation, which understands technology as a possibility to improve life directly rather than as a mere tool to solve problems. The Global Positive Design Initiative (GPDI), a shared initiative of design schools, aims to provide access to knowledge, tools, and techniques for Positive Design for all design students across the globe.

The Establishment of GPDI

On 24th Sep 2019, in Xi’an, China, representatives from the six founding members signed the agreement of Global Positive Design Initiative (GPDI) and had the first GPDI board meeting on 25th Sep 2019. The founding members of GPDI are:

  • – Delft University of Technology (The Netherlands)
  • – Northwestern Polytechnical University (China)
  • – Aalto University (Finland)
  • – Beijing Normal University (China)
  • – Design School Kolding (Denmark)
  • – Universidad de Los Andes (Colombia)
  • – University of Siegen (Germany)
  • – Cornell University (USA)

General Mission

The GPDI promotes and supports the capabilities of design students to design for human flourishing. This includes (1) the promotion of a general awareness of the subjective well-being of students and teachers, and (2) developing and disseminating education material for teaching Positive Design knowledge and methodology. In addition, it includes developing teaching and learning environments that support flourishing of all actors involved.

Key Values

Positive Design …

creates possibilities Positive Design envisions and realizes the conditions in which all human beings can achieve their potential. Rather than merely reducing problems, it offers opportunities to improve their wellbeing.
fosters human flourishing Positive Design uplifts people. It enables and inspires people to develop their talents, to increase their freedom, to deepen their relationships, and to contribute to their communities.
enables meaningful activities Positive Design supports and enable people to engage in meaningful activities that express their unique and autonomous values as well as the social nature of human life.
supports designers Positive Design considers the well-being of designers and all other actors in the design (education) process. It develop systemic conditions that supports the flourishing of design students’ and teachers.
 accepts responsibility Positive Design explores its own normative goal for human and societal aspirations and action. It takes responsibility for its short- and long-term impact on individuals as well as on communities and society.


The GPDI promotes and supports the following primary activities:

  • – Develop an online platform (Positive Design Repository) to make visible and accessible Positive Design knowledge, educational material, design tools, and best practices.
  • – Promote collaborations by creating a network of partners, involving academia, design industry, and industry that develops and markets (product and service) design.
  • – Develop courses and other educational material to teach design students to design for well-being. Translate material to avoid language-generated difficulties.
  • – Improve learning conditions in design schools to support the flourishing of students and teachers.

In addition, GPDI promotes the following secondary activities:

  • – Conduct and stimulate scientific research that aims to increase our understanding of the (possible) effects of design on human well-being and flourishing.
  • – Engage in design-oriented research projects (such as case studies) that explore the possibilities of well-being-driven design.
  • – Stimulate similar (research) initiatives and general discussion by organizing events such as seminars, workshops, and (sessions in) conferences.