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89105 Design Activism

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2020 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Design, Architecture and Building: Design
Credit points: 6 cp

Subject level:

Postgraduate

Result type: Grade and marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.

Description

This subject looks at the increasingly active role that design is playing within contemporary contexts of social critique and change. Students are introduced to the history of social activism in design, and to the particular contexts within which design activism is currently being pursued. Philosophical critiques of a human-centred conception of authorship and agency have important repercussions for the thinking of designers on their role as activists. This subject positions contemporary activism within post-humanist understandings of agency. Discussions and theoretical engagement foster critical understanding of the complex interaction of human and non-human, material and immaterial, memory, expectation, hope and experience within the unfolding social and political histories of designed things.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

On successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:

1. Engage with central themes and arguments that have informed contemporary design activism.
2. Develop a philosophical and theoretical understanding of post humanist critiques of agency.
3. Develop logical and persuasive arguments that engage with philosophical, theoretical and creative texts.
4. Have a practical understanding of design activist approaches, processes, methods and tools.
5. Be able to demonstrate a reflective and ethical approach to design practice.
6. Use text, visual and design based media to communicate, share and develop ideas drawn from relevant texts.
7. Be able to realise a clear verbal presentation.
8. Demonstrate an ability to work with collaboratively with others in an interdisciplinary context.

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes to the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes:

  • Value for the designer's role as a responsible global citizen, including alertness to the impact of design on environmental ecologies and issues of social justice (A.1)
  • A commitment to ethical acknowledgement of sources and the work of others (A.2)
  • Professional attitude to clarity, accuracy and effectiveness of communication (C.1)
  • Capacity to work flexibly within a team and make a positive contribution to team dynamics (C.2)
  • Ability to adapt communication style to context (C.3)
  • Capacity for perceptive concept development (I.1)
  • Ability to critically appraise, develop or redirect design ideas (I.2)
  • Ability to re-imagine human practices and human-technology relations (I.3)
  • Ability to develop well-supported arguments and rationales (R.1)
  • Ability to analyse and synthesise complex ideas (R.2)
  • A disposition to adopt practices and approaches that embed critical reflection (R.3)

Contribution to the development of graduate attributes

C-1 Professional attitude to clarity and accuracy of communication

C-2 Capacity to work flexibly within a team and make a positive contribution to team dynamics

C-3 Effective visual communication skills, appropriate to context

C-4 Effective oral presentation skills, appropriate to audience contexts

A-1 Value for the designer’s role as a responsible global citizen

A-2 A commitment to ethical acknowledgment of sources and the work of others

P-2 An ability to translate acquired design skills into new contexts

R-1 Ability to develop well-supported arguments and rationales

R-2 Ability to analyse and synthesise complex ideas

R-3 A disposition to adopt practices and approaches that embed critical reflection

R-4 Ability to adopt appropriate research methods within different contexts

I-1 Capacity for perceptive concept development

I-2 Ability to critically appraise, develop or redirect design ideas

I-3 Ability to re-imagine human practices and human-technology relations

Teaching and learning strategies

Face-to-face classes will incorporate a range of teaching and learning strategies including short presentations, videos, simulations, discussion of readings and case studies and student group work. These will be complemented by independent student reading and participation in online discussion.

Content (topics)

Themes and arguments relevant to design activism include:

Post-humanist theories of agency

Vital materialism

Ontological design and redirective practice

Postmodern ecologies

Last capitalism

Post consumer society

Ecology of the image

Over consumption

Under consumption Speculative design

Collaboration, Co creation and practices of sharing

Assessment

Assessment task 1: Case study

Objective(s):

This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 6, 7 and 8

This task also addresses the following course intended learning outcomes that are linked with a code to indicate one of the five CAPRI graduate attribute categories (e.g. C.1, A.3, P.4, etc.):

.4, A.1, C.2 and C.3

Type: Presentation
Groupwork: Group, group and individually assessed
Weight: 25%
Criteria:

1. Ability to relate the case study to the designer’s role as a responsible global citizen

2. Effective visual communication skills

3. Effective oral presentation skills

4. Capacity to work flexibly within a team and make a positive contribution to team dynamics

Assessment task 2: Design Communication

Objective(s):

This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

2, 6, 7 and 8

This task also addresses the following course intended learning outcomes that are linked with a code to indicate one of the five CAPRI graduate attribute categories (e.g. C.1, A.3, P.4, etc.):

.4, C.2, C.3 and R.2

Type: Design/drawing/plan/sketch
Groupwork: Group, group and individually assessed
Weight: 25%
Criteria:

1. Ability to analyse and synthesise complex ideas

2. Ability to use text, visual and design based media to communicate, share and develop ideas drawn from relevant texts

3. Be able to realise a clear verbal presentation

4. Demonstrate an ability to work with collaboratively with others in an interdisciplinary context

Assessment task 3: Proposal for Design Activism and Individual Reflection

Objective(s):

This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

3, 4, 5, 6 and 8

This task also addresses the following course intended learning outcomes that are linked with a code to indicate one of the five CAPRI graduate attribute categories (e.g. C.1, A.3, P.4, etc.):

.2, .4, A.1, A.2, C.1, C.2, C.3, I.1, I.2, I.3, R.1 and R.3

Type: Presentation
Groupwork: Group, group and individually assessed
Weight: 50%
Criteria:

Task 3 Part 1 - Groupwork (25%)

1. Ability to translate acquired design skills into new contexts

2. Ability to adopt appropriate research methods within different contexts

3. Ability to re-imagine human practices and human-technology relations

4. Capacity for perceptive concept development

5. Ability to critically appraise, develop or redirect design ideas

6. Ability to use text, visual and design based media to communicate, share and develop ideas drawn from relevant texts

7. Ability to work with collaboratively with others in an interdisciplinary context

.................................

Task 3 Part 2 - Individual (25%)

1. Ability to develop logical and persuasive arguments that engage with philosophical, theoretical and creative texts.

2. Demonstrated understanding of the designer’s role as a responsible global citizen.

3. Ethical attitude to reporting on work to which others have contributed.

4. Ability to reflect critically and thoughtfully on work.

5. Clarity and accuracy of written communication

Required texts

Set readings and other resources will be made available on UTS Online. To access eReadings please go to the UTS Library website unless otherwise specified.

References

Bauman, Z. 2008, Does ethics have a chance in the world of consumers, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.

_______ 2007, Consuming life, Polity Press, Cambridge, Maldon, MA.

_______ 2007, Liquid times: living in an age of uncertainty, Cambridge, MA.

Bennett, J. 2010, Vibrant Matter: a political ecology of things, Durham and London, Duke University Press.

Botsman, R. and Rogers, R. 2010, What’s mine is yours: the rise of collaborative consumption, Harper Business, New York.

Cranmer, J. and Zappaterra, Y. 2004, Conscientious objectives: Designing for an ethical message, Roto Vision, Mies, Switzerland.

Carter, P. 2004, Material Thinking: the theory and practice of creative research, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne.

Felshin, N. 1995, But is it art? The spirit of art activism, Bay Press, Seattle, WA.

Fry, T. 2011, Design as Politics, Berg, New York.

_______ 2008, Design Futuring: Sustainability, ethics and new practice, Berg Publishers, Oxford.

Fuad-Luke, A.2009, Design Activism: Beautiful strangeness for a sustainable world, Earthscan, London.

_______ [2002] 2004, The Eco-design handbook, Thames and Hudson, London.

Hand, M. 2012, Ubiquitous Photography: Digital Media and Society, Polity Press, London.

Heller, S. and Vienne, V. (eds), 2003, Citizen Designer: Perspectives on design responsibility, Allworth Press, New York.

Heller, S. and Kushner, T. 2005, The design of dissent: Socially and politically driven graphics, Rockport Publishers Inc, MA.

Jackson, T. 2008, Prosperity without growth: Economics for a finite planet, Earchscan, London.

Julier, G. 2008, The Culture of Design, Sage Publications, London.

Lasn, K. 2006, Design anarchy: Adbusters media foundation, Vancouver, British Columbia.

Mau, B. 2003, Massive Change, Phaidon, London.

Sennett, R. 2012, Together: The Rituals, pleasures and politics of cooperation, Yale University Press, New Haven and London.

Thackara, J. 2005, In the Bubble: Designing in a complex world, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.

Thorpe, A. 2008, ‘Design as activism’, A conceptual tool’, in Changing the Change: Design visions, proposals and tools, Changing the Change conference, Turin, Italy, June 2008knUmberto Allemandi and Co, www.allemandi.com/cp/ctc/book.php?id=115&p=1.