“Leadership in a Complex World: Taking On Diffused Responsibilities.”

What do some of Asia’s most pressing societal challenges, such as – anthropogenic climate change, managing an ageing population, air pollution, erosion of local culture due to rapid urbanisation – have in common?

These challenges are so large-scale, complex and widespread that the responsibility for tackling them is diffused across all members of society. Too often, individuals experience an inertia to act. We may feel intimidated (‘this is such a huge problem I don’t know where to begin’), become apathetic (‘this problem does not affect me directly so why should I care’) and pass on responsibility to others (‘someone else is probably doing something about it’).

At AUS2018, we view these challenges as a force that unites our generation – the responsibilities for addressing them are OUR shared responsibilities. Conventional narratives of addressing societal problems encourage top-down policy approaches by governments or bottom-up cultivation of good individual habits.

AUS2018 proposes a middle ground – Innovation. Individual(s) must take the first step first to generate innovative ideas that empower communities to effect change. We believe that Innovation inspired by human-centered design has the potential to meet needs that big organisations might overlook and enable individual actions to make a significant impact.

At AUS2018, each overseas leg host city will immerse participants in a pertinent issue area where responsibility has been diffused. Participants will be equipped with tools such as ethnographic fieldwork techniques and design thinking which will enable them to empathise with and ideate solutions that address the needs of their own communities. Participants will then converge at the Singapore leg to synthesise their learning by cross-exchanging ideas, understanding the diffusion of responsibility through a Singaporean case study, and presenting their group actionables at the Idea Springboard Pitch on the final day of the summit.