Redesign of Society initiative in the works

We are now developing an initiative for transdisciplinary study and research with the theme of “Redesign of Society”. The initiative will start with a study project that will be launched in September 2014 and is open to MA and doctoral students from all universities participating in the national JOO agreement. We are also starting similar activities in collaboration with universities in Japan this year.

What does this theme mean? The idea is to develop a design oriented approach to thinking about at the tremendous changes and challenges in society. We will attempt to understand what kinds of designs and design ecosystems there are in society and what kinds of forces are at work; this is a certain kind of redesign process in society that is taking place whether we participate in it actively or not. At the same time, we will attempt to develop ideas of desirable future society, and consider what would it mean to develop a more proactive design stance towards making such desirable developments possible.

Examples of the topics we will be discussing:

–       the state and future of the global digital environment (intelligence agencies etc. hacking and spying, corporate platform dominance, growing complexity and unsustainability of digital ecosystems)
–       the growing inequality and societal unrest, future of jobs, degradation and depletion of environment and natural resources vs sustainable society, climate change
–       how to evolve the business, financial and economical systems towards greater social responsibility
–       the problems with intellectual property, and the need to preserve and strengthen the cultural and technological commons of humankind
–       critical review and envisioning of future predictions and scenarios (robots, singularity, surveillance,…), creating design propositions and making them visible and tangible for societal debate

The topic is so wide that beyond this list, it is not very meaningful to attempt to outline the agenda further in the context of this small post; the content and diverse foci will be established and refined during the collaborative processes. Instead, only a few words about the ways of working. We will look at the established beliefs and contrast them with the critical voices and movements emerging around the world. We will develop activities that allow us to invite students, researchers, experts, citizens, organizations and communities from all disciplines and fields of life to participate in the processes, over the next several years. Our focus will be critical, pragmatic and transdisciplinary – we will try to develop holistic insights and question and reframe conventional beliefs when necessary. Everyone participating will obviously be able to commit to and develop a subjective understanding of the topics, but we aim to develop a community that shares some common design oriented language, tools and methods for working with the topics, informed by input from disciplinary experts.

We are now hiring a post-doctoral researcher to help me in setting up this initiative, and this post is partly aimed to inform the potential applicants. It is possible that I will edit this post or add more information to the comments during the time the application period for the post is open.

This work will be partly based on the thinking explained in three of my papers, available through these links:

Design for Society in Transformation 2001
Design ecosystems as the landscapes for co-creation 2013
Design Ecosystems and the Design of Everyday Life 2013

(UPDATE 29.5.2014 01:05: these links above are now new, as the earlier ones did not work properly. Please email me at kari-hans.kommonen@aalto.fi if you encounter any problems.)

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