Internal seminar series for senior, doctoral and junior researchers, Interactive Institute, 2010-2012

A series of internal research seminars was initiated at the Interactive Institute in 2011. Given the geographic distribution of the institute's studios and the organization of work in projects, the purpose of the seminar has been to build rapport, references and discourse across studios and projects. Each seminar is 2-3 hours, based on a theme and reading that has been circulated in advance. Readings are selected to delve into established or emerging theoretical areas, often in other disciplines such as the social sciences, management or organizational studies. In this way, the aim has been to deepen and broaden our common research foundations and also to identify opportunities for our design research in future work. Leadership circulates among different senior researchers, and participants include 8-15 senior researchers, doctoral students and junior researchers from three of the institute's studios. Seminars thus far have included:

'Critical approaches to social practices (of sustainability)' was the theme of the seminar in Oct 2012 led by Ramia Mazé. The seminar discussed ways in which consumption includes individuals or groups that have access to resources such as energy and those that do not, and those with different opportunities or abilities to change. This seminar introduced some gender and postcolonial thinking relevant to design for sustainability and social innovation.

'Stories and communities of practice' was the theme of the seminar in Sept 2012 led by Cecilia Katzeff. The seminar introduced several theories of learning relevant to designing for communities of practice, which were discussed in relation to a previous research project around storytelling within an annual cultural festival.

'Communities of practice' was the theme of the seminar in June 2012 led by Brendon Clark. The seminar gave an overview of the concept 'communities of practice' and key figures and contexts in its development. A case study was introduced in which design was used to both support a community of practice through technological development and to make visible their often marginalized practices.

'Social practices theory' was the theme of the seminar in March 2012 led by Annelise de Jong. The topic is social practices. In the seminar, we discussed the meaning of 'the social', how this is commonly viewed upon in design and in theories from the social sciences. We discussed an article about social practices theory in relation to examples of our work at the Interactive Institute and at TU Delft.

'Design "visioning" futures' was the theme of the seminar in Feb 2012 led by Ramia Mazé. Following on issues raised in the previous seminar around 'transitions' in (sustainable) practices, this seminar introduced some approaches from futures studies and transition management. We discussed roles for design research in "visioning" alternative futures in relation to our own work, including that involving participatory methods and info-visualization.

'Expanding the unit of (sustainable) design and analysis' was the theme of the seminar in Dec 2011 led by Ramia Mazé and Annelise de Jong. Challenging the focus of much product and interaction design focuses on people-product or human-computer interaction, we discuss the approach we have been developing in response. Rather than people-, product- or even -eco-centric starting points, we inquire into larger- and longer- scale units of analysis for studying and designing for 'social practices'.

My role
I initiated the series, by proposing initial content, structure and leadership model to my colleagues Cecilia Katzeff and Annelise de Jong. We have collaborated to continue the series and Brendon Clark has also contributed. The seminars that I have led in the series are also intended as part of a knowledge transfer between my research at the Interactive Institute and at the IIT Institute of Design through the project Designing Social Innovation. Participation is voluntary, but attendance has been consistent and high.

See also

/ Projects / Designing Social Innovation