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02/2: Empowering Critical Design Literacy
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Encountering development in social design education
North Carolina State University, United States of America
Design for social good is an area of design in which designers focus on social problems. One way of teaching this type of content is through classes with an international component that mimics an international development project, where students work as a consulting team for an organization in a developing country. However, this type of class sometimes replicates problematic structures in international development such as neocolonialism, the perception that knowledge comes from the Global North. This paper details a workshop that was created to disrupt the negative narratives in this kind of global social design project, such as the design saviour narrative, by introducing elements from critical pedagogy such as critical reflection, examining bias and positionality, introducing ethnographic techniques, and intentionally flipping the power dynamics of the collaboration. Over a two-weekend workshop, students at an American university collaborated with students at a university in the Caribbean. Instead of going through the entire design process, this short class focused on the tension and unfamiliar roles that the students played when the students from the Global South were tasked with identifying issues of their colleagues and other participants from the Global North. The American students expressed their discomfort at being 'studied' at several points during the two-session design workshop. This paper aims to help other educators create learning experiences where students examine their positionality, privilege, and biases, while also creating a space for them to practice humility and reflect on power dynamics in international design work in a very intentional way.
Exploring practices of critical design literacy. A comparative study of two lower secondary school design project
Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway
We have destabilized nature by design. The Anthropocene epoch requires a fundamental redirection of the purpose of design and design education. This empirical review explores two design projects—Repair and Ecovillage—at the level of lower secondary education in Norway. The review examines ways in which pupils are challenged to question, rethink and transform unsustainable practices of everyday living. A metho¬dological framework consisting of four narratives is used to identify design skills and discuss the potential empowerment of critical design literacy. In the Repair project, pupils’ question practices of the fashion industry and responsible consumption while they design kits for mending clothes. The Ecovillage project challenges pupils to explore how architecture can lower carbon footprint and enable shared-living. The Repair project empowers the pupils to transform un-sustainable practices present in the roles of consumers. The Ecovillage project asks pupils to claim a role as redirective designers and discern the possibilities of architecture to nudge change in our modes of being in this world.
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