Developing participation in social design: prototyping projects, programmes and policies

Lead Research Organisation: University of Brighton
Department Name: School of Art, Design and Media


The 'Social Design Futures: HEIs and the AHRC' report (Armstrong et al 2014) demonstrated that in order to take social design research forward in meaningful and sustainable ways, programmes needed to be undertaken that expanded and developed its constituencies. It also pointed out that new forms of collaboration and communication of research across disciplinary boundaries, but also beyond HEIs, needed to be modelled. This proposal presents a follow-up phase in order to maintain and develop the momentum built through the Mapping Social Design project.

Planned Impact

The project explores the challenges that lie ahead in operationalising the recommendations that are set out in the Social Design Futures report while expanding and consolidating its networks. It provides a bridge between the issues it raises and future HEI and non-HEI engagement. Its timing is important in that its outcomes come shortly before the AHRC's proposed pilot work-package for D3.

The research will engage with a growing UK and international community of practice in design and other disciplines in the arts and humanities, social sciences and STEM subjects.


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Title Co-Producing Social Futures Through Design Research 
Description This animation (dur 5:58) argues for 'two stage' cross-disciplinary research for social impact can be enhanced through design research. This animation first shows some of the challenges of doing cross-disciplinary research with partners, and then argues that design research helps solve these by mediating between actualities (how things are) and potentialities (how things could be). It does this through: enabling people with different perspectives and stakes in an issue to collaborate; materialising issues and publics; creating ambiguous spaces for discussion and collaboration; and producing hybrid outputs in a range of formats and media. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact The animation was published online in November 2016. Evidence of impact is limited but twitter activity with links to the animation suggests that practitioners working in design, user experience and healthcare improvement and making the case for design (e.g. Danish Design Centre) find it of value. 
Description We have developed cross-disciplinary, design-oriented research in relation to societal issues. In short we call this 'Mode 3' research that involves the use of prototyping along with contextual research to imagine potential changes to services and policies.
Exploitation Route We envisage that this produces a workable model for bringing together HEI and non-HEI specialists.
Sectors Creative Economy,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

Description The five projects that took place within this programme all collaborated with non-academic entities. These included the Leeds Creative Timebank, the Glasgow Festival of Ideas, several co-housing groups, the Manchester Coder Dojo and the South Manchester Woodcraft Folk, the All-Party Parliamentary Design and Innovation Group (APDIG) and Age UK.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Creative Economy,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic,Policy & public services