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This article offers a large-scale view of how design fits in the world economy today, and the role of design education in preparing designers for their economic and professional role. The current context of design involves broad-based historical changes including a major redistribution of geopolitical and industrial power from the West to the East. A model of six global economies delineates the challenge and opportunity for design practice and education. While the six economies developed over time, all fit together now and design creates value in different ways across them. Understanding the economic context of design education gives clarity to the educational mission, differentiating it from other forms of education. The author argues that design professionals now require a broad range of analytical, conceptual and creative skills related to the social and economic context of design along with advanced skills in a design specialty. A taxonomic chart of design knowledge delineates the range of skills and knowledge domains involved.