ABSTRACT This paper argues for a context-based approach to and strategic use of the methods and processes of design education to meet complex societal challenges, in this particular case those brought by an ageing popu­ lation. The author discusses how this approach to using design education can be delivered to a wider range of disciplines other solely to students of design. The author compares and evaluates, through two case studies, the delivery of similar material to two dissimilar groups of students, one design-related and subjectbased, the second non-design-related and context-based.