Call for Participation: Civic Design – On the Theory and Practice of the Social and Political in Design

14. Annual Conference – German Society for Design Theory and Research (DGTF)
Burg Giebichstein University of Art and Design, Halle, Germany
December 1 – 2, 2017
Submission of abstracts: September 10, 2017

Our object of discussion will be the internal and interdisciplinary negotiations of the social and the political in design. We will be addressing both the practical as well as the theoretical and normative approaches to situate and differentiate design’s new relations to politics and society.

We are currently experiencing a new discursive and practical shift toward the political and social dimensions in design. In close interaction to social transformations of the last few decades, the discipline of design is currently seeking to redefine itself in its relationship to socio-political complexity. The plethora of terms such as social design, transition design, transformative design and design for social innovation could be seen as a new “social turn” for design, which now increasingly understands its tasks to include programmatic transformation of societal realities. Design competency is gaining ground in transdisciplinary contexts and is consulted ever more on a practical as well as a discursive level, at the interface between business, civil society and politics, in the proverbial elevator of the bottom-up and the top-down. New questions arise regarding how roles are to be understood, depth of impact and fields of activity for design in sociopolitical transformation processes. And the disciplinary borderlines are being redrawn for design’s political realm of action.

Design has indeed always had its hand in or at least touched upon big social change processes – whether through taking a modernist stance, like the hfg Ulm or the Bauhaus, or its antithesis in disegno radicale or later critical design, but also through applying designerly strategies in the construction of populist folk identities, as with National Socialism. Today, however, a reevaluation seems to be shifting the very object of design: away from the creation of thingly artifacts toward the design of processes in the context of social complexity. Such design must be understood both conceptually and discursively in regards to its dedicated immediacy to change processes, as it is attributed with the capability to contribute to change in conjunction with other actors.

TThis development is not reducible to a broadening of design’s action horizon, rather it extends beyond the discipline itself. For example, policy makers are increasingly taking up design as a promising field for partnerships and methodologies. Complementary, new forms of communities, collectives, civic initiatives and DIY cultures are gaining political significance and are developing new forms of access and participation, drawing attention to design as a planning discipline at the intersection of digital technology, the open source community and cultural & urban studies. Digitization processes initiate and reinforce these developments, e.g. through the diversification of institutions of information, through new avenues of production or through the rising importance of digital platforms for self-organization and opinion forming.
This is the backdrop for the 14th annual DGTF Conference. We wish to more clearly define the fields of action between political decision-making power, civil society and the spheres of everyday life.

Our object of discussion will be the internal and interdisciplinary negotiations of the social and the political in design. We will be addressing both the practical as well as the theoretical and normative approaches to situate and differentiate design’s new relations to politics and society. We will also try to trace the historical developments that have led to this new negotiation in order to form the basis for discussion that synthesizes past theses and goes further.

In probing these dimensions, we will ask the following questions:
– What historical approaches are being referred to, which are we ignoring?
– What models and self-understandings do we assume, how can we contextualize these roles?
– What impact can we have on this context, what contributions can we make, where are the pitfalls?
– How far dare we go in understanding these new developments as “design” and at what point are we talking about something else entirely?

We pursue these issues in moderated panels, short lectures and parallel workshops/roundtables, as well as with an accompanying exhibition. Our three curated panels will
1. look at the origins – by asking what approaches do we refer to when discussing social and political design,

2. situate where the status quo lies in the tension between current design approaches in the area of political initiatives and at the level of established institutions, and

3. inquire into the role of digitization processes for the evolution of a “civic design.”
In addition to the panels, we extend the invitation to contributions that conform to the following formats:
Short lectures (10 minutes): Lectures may present current practical project examples as well as discursive approaches connected to the conference theme on design practice and research and which fall within the scope of social or political design.

Roundtables and workshops (90 minutes each): We welcome suggestions for parallel roundtables and workshops for the second half of the last conference day. We are equally open to recommendations for moderation and forms that foster further discussion and brings together themes presented. Roundtables should be an open forum for views on teaching, research and practice. For workshops we invite you to submit ideas with hands-on experiments from the field of civil tech and physical computing.

Exhibition contributions: For the accompanying exhibition, posters, prototypes, videos, objects or other items may be submitted that fit the context of the conference. The entries can be commentaries, approaches to problem solving or documentations of the research and design process. Your submissions should not exceed 500 words and must be submitted as a PDF file to mail@dgtf.de. The extended deadline for submissions is 10.09.2017. The selection will be made by the conference committee in cooperation with external evaluators. The notification will be sent by 30.09.2017. The “Civic Design” conference will take place on the 1st and 2nd of December 2017. The Burg Giebichenstein, University of Art and Design Halle will host the event. The conference committee consists of Bianca Herlo, Andreas Unteidig and Matthias Görlich. Please contact Malte Bergmann, head of the DGTF secretariat and coordinator of this year’s meeting, with your questions. The conference “Civic Design” is endoresed by the “Cumulus Association of Universities and Colleges of Art, Design and Media”.

Please note the important dates:
10. September : Submission of abstracts
30. September: Notification of acceptance

http://www.dgtf.de/tagungen/cfp

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