Perspectives on Participatory Design_Panel 2
Perspectives on Participatory Design
A 2-part panel series on how we teach collaboration in design and with whom.
Participatory approaches to design practice stem from the belief that those who are most affected by design thinking should have a say in the design process. But how do we teach participation? How do we establish terms of engagement? How do we democratize our design teaching processes when, too often, conversations in academia focus on what we are teaching rather than how we are teaching it? Outcome-oriented syllabi leave our goals and objectives aligned, but our methodologies siloed. Design studios promote resolved spatial solutions over learned spatial practices. This panel asks, how do we set the stage for human centered design thinking? What if instead of seeking resolution we sought difficult dialogue? Instead of reviewing final projects we reviewed infrastructural processes. Instead of idealistically asking "what if " and "why" we spoke realistically about "how" and "with whom."
This 2-part panel series on participatory design aims to shed light on concrete examples, teaching exercises, and assignment prompts that foster collaboration between various participants. Acknowledging the complex dynamics and imbalances of power inherent in working across cultures and contexts, and understanding that participatory design can be complicit in perpetuating the very power structures it seeks to dismantle, we ask, how do we structure projects to address the needs, considerations, and experiences of all participants? How, do we teach our students to empathize rather than to assume, to compromise rather than to compete, and to listen rather than to project?
Our first panel, "Perspectives on Participatory Design I" spread awareness about the rich legacy of community-driven design within the Department of Interior Design. The second panel, slated for mid-April, will build upon this discussion, and allow us to look beyond our discipline, to participatory practices within other departments and schools across our institute. Our hope is that we can learn from the many modalities, relationships, and infrastructures around participation, and walk away with concrete examples that allow us, collectively, to consider what comes next, how we get there, and what actionable steps we want to take to incorporate informed participatory design practices into future coursework.
Erling Bjögvinsson, Pelle Ehn, Per-Anders Hillgren. “Design Things and Design Thinking: Contemporary Participatory Design
Challenges.” in DesignIssues: Volume 28, Number 3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 2012
 Hajira Qazi. “Power and Participation: A Guidebook to Shift Unequal Power Dynamics in Participatory Design Practice.” Carnegie Mellon 2008.