Post-Industrial Design School is an experiential learning lab run by Christina Xu and Gary Chou.
This website is an archive of their collective and independent explorations working with students, creators, and entrepreneurship educators at Orbital and School of Visual Arts MFA in Interaction Design Program from 2012 through 2019.
Christina Xu (@xuhulk) has taught Entrepreneurial Design along with Gary Chou at SVA's MFA in Interaction Design program from 2014 through 2018. She works as a freelance ethnographic researcher studying internet culture and social behavior around technology in the US and China. Her past projects include Letters for Black Lives, Awesome Foundation, and ROFLCon.
Gary Chou (@garychou) is founder of Orbital, a studio for building networks. In addition to co-teaching with Christina, he’s been an advisor to Venture for America and Austin Center for Design. Previously he was General Manager at Union Square Ventures, a venture capital firm based in New York City. He’s held senior product management roles at a number of early stage consumer and enterprise startups.
If you're interested in collaborating, or would like to be notified about updates, please say hello.
There’s never been a more important time to prepare people to confront uncertainty, yet we are under-resourced and unequipped as a society to do so at scale.
It’s not just you.
The turbulence we are feeling is a side-effect of the macro-level shifts we are undergoing as a society—in how information is distributed, in what entities hold power, in how people are organized.
We are just beginning to understand the massive implications of these shifts on society, culture, and the economy, which have the potential to unearth opportunities and dethrone incumbents, but also to create a tremendous amount of uncertainty and precarity.
It will not automatically level the playing field—and may even deepen existing inequalities—unless we put real effort towards doing so.
We believe that education has an important role to play in buffering society through this change in a more equitable manner, though an overhaul is needed: our current educational system spends most of its time preparing people to function within a hierarchy rather than teach them to explore the unknown.
Through the past seven years of teaching and working with students, artists, entrepreneurs, and activists, we have learned that there are two fundamental abilities that help creators thrive in today’s chaos:
The ability to confront and navigate uncertainty: The journey of creation requires sailing off into uncharted territory, with no preset right or wrong answers. Creators must develop practices for making decisions with incomplete data, recognizing the difference between an obstacle and a dead end, and reflecting on their progress honestly.
The ability to sustain and grow relevant networks: Networks of people who can provide a creator with advice, support, information, connections, or capital are critical infrastructure. Creators need to be just as intentional about developing this infrastructure as they are about the work itself.
While some people have more practice with or natural aptitude for these abilities, we know from experience that they can be taught effectively, and that doing so can yield profound results.
We see these abilities as fundamental to an emerging and critical form of education, which draws from pedagogies like design and entrepreneurship education.
We want to see more classrooms, training programs, and incubators teach these fundamental abilities to the people who need them the most.