Session at the 108th College Art Association of America Annual Conference
Jessica M. Jacobs, Columbia College Chicago and Lisa Elzey Mercer, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
The role of the designer is shifting from that of a service provider to an individual with an epistemological understanding of design and their role in the design process. There has been an increased acknowledgement of design’s role, both in practice and in academia, in perpetuating systems of inequity through the “colonization of knowledge, the colonial conditions that inform knowledge production and validation” (Abdulla, 2016). With its focus on empathic design solutions and user research, the widespread adoption of design thinking methods has shifted some power from the designer to the user. Furthering this, some practitioners are developing methodologies that seek to intervene in and disrupt the design thinking process with new methods to foster equity-based design solutions. Designers are shifting their focus from outputs (what gets designed or built) to outcomes (future, people-centered aspirations) for longer-term, resilient, sustainable impact towards desired futures.
We continue to design products, services, and systems that increase inequity, including biased algorithms, automation that leads to planned obsolescence and deskilling, and limitations on access to technology and communication. How might a change in design methods or engagement models alter solutions to be more equitable? We are interested in hearing from individuals whose scholarship and research is focused on challenging the traditional Westerns ways of knowing (Wilson, 1999) and who are developing and advocating for decolonized systems, traditions, and ways of being and knowing (Biermann, 2011). How might designers add to the discourse of a “global village” where a homogeneous world culture is dominant (Fiss, 2009)?