AGENT MAKERS - The un-masking of environmental agency through design for speculative social innovation.

LEVICK-PARKIN, Melanie, STIRLING, Eve, HANSON, Maria and BATEMAN, Roger (2017). AGENT MAKERS - The un-masking of environmental agency through design for speculative social innovation. In: Making and Unmaking the Environment : Design History Society Annual Conference, University of Oslo, 7–9 September 2017. (Unpublished)

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Living in the Anthropocene, with its accelerating human agency impacting on the planet, we have to open our eyes to the ever increasing signs that the relationship between design(ers) and nature is more often than not disastrous. And although designers hold a great deal of power to influence our relationship with our environment, it is questionable whether young designers feel like they themselves have any of this power or are aware that their training equips them with agency beyond the artifactual context. This research explores whether and how speculative, future oriented design briefs can make design students aware of their agency in social and environmental contexts beyond the micro-environment of their immediate design discipline or disciplinary industrial context. The project focused on ‘Design Futuring the City’, an international cohort of MA Students from a cross-disciplinary design programme were asked to imagine futures for their home cities, developed from a wide range of futurologist predictions. Part of the students exploration was to give consideration whether their visions of this future were utopian or dystopian and to develop an understanding of how design ‘futures’ and ‘defutures’ (Fry 2015) at the same time. Fry (2015) proposes that the true potential of design education, - ‘of disclosing world making and un-making’ (ibid p.19) remains unrealized and as such, western education is insufficient. Although this critique is about the lack of design education in a broader sense, we would also propose that even within art & design education, traditional ontological entrapments mean that it can be difficult to transcend designs temporal pre-occupation with futuring the immediate, with neither a sense of a deeper past nor deeper future. We believe Design pedagogy, whether within or outside the art school, has a pivotal role to play in the making and un-making of design histories beyond dominant ontologies and a duty to contribute to more resilient social and environmental futures. Key words – Agency, Design Pedagogy, Speculative Design, Design Ontology

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information:
Uncontrolled Keywords: Agency, Design Pedagogy, Speculative Design, Design Ontology
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Cultural Communication and Computing Research Institute > Art and Design Research Centre
Departments: Faculty of Science, Technology and Arts > Art and Design
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Depositing User: Melanie Levick-Parkin
Date Deposited: 05 Jan 2018 12:11
Last Modified: 27 Jan 2018 20:32

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