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  • Adam Thorpe

    Obviously there are many ways to deliver a DESIS project. The differences in delivery are in some part due to availability of resources and assets including; time, money, relationships (with communities/actors outside the HEI), experience and competencies of students, experience and competencies of tutors, aims and ambitions of the project (and actors involved), and expectations and experience of other actors e.g. local government partners and community collaborators.

    Student initiated
    The toolkit for DESIS projects of 2009, offered a structured methodology for students to identify promising initiatives where design could amplify their success/sustainability. This approach to the DESIS project clearly positions design students as facilitators of existing social innovations, seeking opportunities for design interventions to help existing social innovations to succeed and thrive.

    Community initiated
    There are other instances where communities approach designers to request assistance with existing social innovations. In these instances it is important that the design student is able to work with communities to conduct research to help articulate community needs and goals and devise some projects that respond to these needs and goals as briefs for design intervention, forming a design project from a social situation. It is important that designers are brought into this process early on so as to collaborate in the discovery and definition of needs and challenges and the creation of briefs for design intervention. In instances where the designer is not involved in the initial stages of projects there is a diminished learning experience for student designers and, in some instances, a lack of understanding amongst non-design actors about what design can do to facilitate social innovation. UAL DESIS Labs ‘Green Camden project’ includes examples of community initiated projects.

    Staff initiated
    These projects involve the academic staff in creating opportunities for design students to collaborate with community groups and local government. When dealing with inexperienced students and projects with a limited (6 -12 week) time line it is useful for staff/HEI to have an existing and ongoing relationship with the collaborating group. This is so as to build trust and capacity for effective use of design within the collaborating organisation as well as to identify the most appropriate ways of engaging the student cohort in collaborative design processes. The social capital and social innovation capacity building, between/within the HEI and local collaborating organisations, is referred to by the Young Foundation as ‘slow prototyping’. Sheffield Live Projects is a great example of what can be achieved when an HEI makes an ongoing commitment to community collaboration projects over time.

    • This reply was modified 10 years, 12 months ago by Adam Thorpe.
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