Kiran Bir Sethi

Founder of Design for Change & The Riverside School in India




Specific topics

AttitudeEducationPeak performancechange managementcreative thinkingdesign thinkingsocial entrepreneurship

Kiran Bir Sethi is a designer turned into teacher, a director turned into education reformer, and, ultimately, a social entrepreneur. An experienced designer, she comfortably uses the language of design -iteration, prototype, design specifications- to develop not only curricular innovation, but also community-based social programs.

After graduating from the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, India, in 1989, Kiran successfully ran her own graphic design business for over a decade. She entered the world of education in 2001, when she founded The Riverside School in Ahmedabad, India. Now seen as a laboratory for shaping design processes that enable students to have transformative learning experiences, the school was founded to fight the depersonalization of the Indian education system. At The Riverside School, the "I can" philosophy is promoted among the students.

The “I can” philosophy aims to make children aware of the world around them and provide them with the skills that will empower them to take action and create a more sustainable and desirable future. Through this method, students cultivate relationships with the community. With high educational standards, the school ranks among India's top four in performance.
Kiran Bir Sethi is also the founder of aProCh, a 2008 Ashoka Fellow awarded initiative aiming to make our cities more child-friendly. In 2009, she received the Call to Conscience Award from the King Centre of Stanford.

In 2009, Kiran Bir Sethi launched Design for Change DFC, which uses the simple 4-step FIDS design framework (Feel, Imagine, Do, Share) to cultivate the “I can” mentality in all children. The aim of the project is to replace prohibitions with incentives focusing on empathy, ethics, excellence and elevation. Today, Design for Change is the world's largest movement for change by and for children, present in more than 65 countries, affecting more than 2.2 million children and 65,000 teachers. In 2017, it was named one of the 100 best projects in the world.

Over the years, Kiran Bir Sethi, Riverside and Design for change have received numerous awards, including the Rockefeller Foundation Youth Innovation award. In addition, in 2017, Kiran Bir Sethi signed an agreement with the Vatican to introduce DFC in more than 460,000 Catholic schools worldwide.

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