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I had the pleasure of attending several sessions of the DRS2016 50th anniversary conference in Brighton this summer. Many of them were linked to the conference theme ‘Future-focused thinking’. In reflecting on the theme, I would argue that design education for the general public has never been more important. The challenges we face in the future will require responsible design-oriented thinking and acting by more than just professional designers and engineers. Global environmental challenges require the general public to act responsibly in their roles as decision makers, purchasers and consumers.