A quick search of the word “design” reveals hundreds of different definitions. Likewise, there are many different designers – different disciplines, different attitudes, different goals, different agendas, different ways of working, different ways of doing research, different outputs, and different values. Perhaps, however, the connection between all of these diverse activities is the iterative development of products, services, systems, experiences, spaces, and other stuff in order to improve the human experience. In other words, using the power of human creativity to improve humanity.
Today, with its application across a wide range of different disciplines and fields, design is being used to help address significant, complex, and global issues ranging from antimicrobial resistance to mobility, from healthy ageing to migration. And with its inherent agility and applicability, design helps shape the technological advances which are transforming the world around us.
In recent years, design research has witnessed a “social turn” where researchers have looked to make change in social contexts as opposed to wholly commercial ends. This “social turn” has encompassed a range of activities and interventions that constitute a more “socially-driven” form of design, which suggests that researchers and practitioners from non-design disciplines are central to realising change in social situations.
The Design Research for Change (DR4C) symposium will examine this “social turn” in design in detail and explore how design is increasingly involved in social, cultural, economic, environmental and political change. The DR4C Symposium will highlight the significant roles that design researchers play in some of the most challenging issues we face, both in the UK and globally, such as creating new products with reduced environmental impact, design research that enhances policy-making through greater citizen involvement, gaming interventions that prioritise the rights of girls and women to live a life free from violence, and design research that helps address recidivism by reframing prison industries as holistic “creative hubs”.
The audience for this symposium is wide and will not only include design researchers, design practitioners, and design academics BUT will be of significant interest to researchers in other areas including (but not limited to) education, healthcare, government, biotechnology, engineering, management, computing, and business. Given the reach and interdisciplinary nature of many forms of contemporary design research it is anticipated that this symposium will be of interest to practitioners and researchers in a wide range of disciplines.