Creating Social Value Blog / Social Innovation

The Intersection of Design Thinking, Climate Action, and Aging

We are continuously inspired by the contributions our Senior Fellows in Social Innovation bring to the world of social impact. Hailing from a diverse set of backgrounds, industries, and trainings, they all share one thing in common: the belief that profit and purpose are not opposing choices.

Dr. Mick Smyer has a gift for breaking down seemingly overwhelming challenges into digestible pieces, and his current work focuses on the intersection of two systemic societal challenges: population aging and climate change. Mick is the former Provost and a Professor of Psychology at Bucknell University, a Civic Innovation Fellow at Stanford University’s d.School, and the Founder of Graying Green, a movement to get older adults engaged in climate change.

He was recently featured in the Results May Vary Podcast and, in a recent blog post for d.School, he looks at the powerful perspective that older adults bring to climate change action, and how human-centered design thinking can be used to amplify the potential impacts of this perspective.

Why older adults? They are living climate memory and keen observers. As one recently retired couple put it: ‘When we were young, teachers talked about change over the next 100 years. It’s already here. We heard about them when we were younger; now we are seeing them when we’re older.’ A retired national park scientist summed it up: ‘We are valuable observers at this point. Farmers know they no longer have bumble bees to pollinate… They don’t have to have data. They just see it.’

To learn more about Mick and his work, visit