CUMULUS Pre-Conference: Emerging Practices: Design Research and Education Conference 2018

Conference Theme: The Technical World and Communities
College of Design and Innovation, Tongji University, Shanghai, China
October 26–27, 2018

Background
Every autumn, at the College of Design and Innovation of Tongji University, we organize a highly interactive design research and education conference titled “Emerging Practices” (EPC). This series began in 2012. Now we are pleased to announce the eighth edition of EPC will be held on October 26–27, 2018.

The upcoming EPC 2018 aims to inspire new discussions about an ongoing discourse—DesignX. Since its very birth, DesignX has been deeply connected with the EPC series. The DesignX discourse was initiated during EPC 2014 by a small group of scholars who were passionate to explore how design can address the complex issues the world faces today. The original ideas about DesignX took the shape of the DesignX Manifesto published in 2014. Its essence is about evidence-based design for complex sociotechnical systems.

Following the publication of the DesignX Manifesto in 2014, the EPC continues to develop understandings enriching the DesignX conversation. Over the past four years, we have expanded the framework of EPC by looking into the following topics that address aspects of DesignX in one way or another:
Developing: Communities – Economics – Education – Research – Exploration, 2014;
Design Activism, 2015;
Design in Complexity, 2016;
The Social World of Complex Sociotechnical Systems, 2017.

In 2014, the DesignX Manifesto outlined the challenges of working for and in complex sociotechnical systems. It signaled the starting point of a long-term inquiry into a framework within which designers might play a meaningful role in improving such systems. In 2015, as the prelude of EPC 2015, the first DesignX workshop explored the possibilities of applying the preliminary DesignX principles in real-world practices. One of the key insights achieved through that workshop was a focal shift from an aspirational proposal to the working approach. We understood that the major challenges presented by DesignX problems do not stem from trying to understand or address the real-world issues, but instead arise during implementation. DesignX problems are not new to the world; instead, designers must figure out new ways of implementation of their solutions. And, they must play an active role in doing so through an interdisciplinary process. Don Norman and Pieter Jan Stappers consolidated this argument in their article “DesignX: Complex Sociotechnical Systems” later published in She Ji. Kyle Behymer and John Flach further discussed their opinions on this subject in an article focusing on sociotechnical systems from the perspective of human-machine collaboration. Inspired by this dialogue, the EPC took up “design in complexity” as the theme for 2016. The more we looked into design challenges arising from social, economic, and technical issues, the better we realized that we need knowledge about complex systems and skills to deal with them.

As a result, since 2017 the EPC has moved its gaze back to the central concern of DesignX—the idea of complex sociotechnical system and its challenge to design. We planned the EPCs in 2017 and 2018 as two episodes that together investigate into such a concern. EPC 2017 focused on society, exploring complex systems by inquiring into social goals, needs, and approaches. This year we will carry the obtained insights forward at EPC 2018 by extending the focus to the technological sphere of DesignX.

Theme of EPC 2018
EPC 2018 will examine complex sociotechnical systems in the context of technology. Its theme is “The Technical World and Communities” (of Complex Sociotechnical Systems). “Community” will be the main topic of the discussion. To feed the conversation with rich contextualized scenarios, we will demonstrate a local case—NICE 2035 Livingline, a communal social innovation initiative at the Siping neighborhood in Shanghai. EPC 2018 aims to inspire a conversation on how technologies can be used to better address the burning issues arising from complex sociotechnical systems and how design could contribute to the process. The conference will present best practices in this area, each grounded on a real-world design challenge and involving prototypes testing to engage relevant parties and provide evidence for development.

Content: While designing complex social systems such as healthcare, transportation, government policy-making and implementation, and environmental protection, designers must consider a myriad of factors, whose interactions are critical to the system’s overall performance. Technology is an important factor on that long an open list. To design the preferable use scenarios of technology it requires the understanding of multi-disciplines such as systems thinking, engineering, cognitive science, computer science, etc., and often working under mutually incompatible constraints. This is the first challenge deeply rooted in the interdisciplinary process of designing for complex sociotechnical systems. In the meanwhile, the reason for a design community to discuss technology is never for technology’s own sake. We are keen on the prospect of creating a harmonious condition for technology to serve the well-being of the humanity better. This is a second challenge that is oftentimes neglected while we enthusiastically embrace the up-to-date advancement of technology. At EPC 2018, we encourage the demonstration of new approaches that are able to account for both challenges.

The Conference will foster the discussion on opportunities for building interdisciplinary interactions and identifying novel processes and practices on how technologies serve in, for, and with communities. Sociotechnical approaches based on the profound appreciation of complex systems will inspire, cultivate, and integrate our communities. The new user-participatory approach is also essential through all process phases, from problem/opportunity identification to post-production. In contrast to the traditional user engagement in the design process where people’s demand acts as a driving factor only at the beginning phase, more open and adaptable system design approaches are necessary to navigate design as a mediating and integrating agency through systems as complex as communities.

Program
The umbrella theme of Tongji Design Week this year is “New Communities.” As a key component of Tongji Design Week, EPC 2018 will invite leading scholars from different societies to share their practices and insights on The Technical World grounded in communities. The conference consists of two parts. The first part is a one-day pre-conference where the invited speakers and experts will explore the conference theme. This session is by invitation. The second part is a one-day conference open to the general audience.

Day 1 Friday Oct.26. 2018 Pre-conference Workshop (close door)
Location: NICE 2035 Livingline
Capacity: Invited experts, keynote speakers and guests, around 20 people
Content: workshop to explore possible projects on the technical world and communities

Schedule:
8:00 Breakfast meeting and tour around the NICE 2035 Livingline
9:30 Introduction to the workshop
10:00 Session 1
12:30 Lunch
13:30 Book launching ceremony and seminar of Club of Rome’s 50 Anniversary
Presenter:
Prof. Ernst von Weizsäcker, Co-Chairman, Club of Rome
Moderator: Prof. Yiheng Cheng, D&I, Tongji University
Guests:
Prof. Chunrong Hua, Tongji University Press
Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Prof. Dajian Zhu, Tongji University
15:00 Session 2
17:00 Closing of the workshop

Day 2 Saturday Oct.27. Open Conference
Location: Main conference venue in downtown
Capacity: Open conference, around 2,000 people

Schedule
8:00 Registration
9:00 Opening address
9:20 Keynote speech 1
Prof. Kent Larson
Director, City Science Lab, MIT Media Lab, USA
9:50 Keynote speech 2
Prof. Ernst von Weizsäcker, Co-Chairman, Club of Rome
10:35 Presentation 1
10:55 Presentation 2
11:15 Presentation 3
11:35 Presentation 4
12:00 Lunch
13:00 Keynote speech 3
Prof. Birger Sevaldson, Oslo School of Architecture and Design, Norway
13:30 Keynote speech 4
Prof. Richard Buchanan, Case Western Reserve University, USA; and D&I, Tongji University
14:00 Presentation 5
14:20 Presentation 6
15:00 Presentation 7
15:20 Presentation 8
15:40 Presentation 9
16:00 Panel discussion
Moderator: Prof. Kostas Terzidis, Director of ShangXiang Lab, D&I, Tongji University
17:00 Concluding remarks
Prof. Yongqi Lou, Dean, College of Design and Innovation (D&I), Tongji University
18:00 Cocktail

We look forward to meeting all of you at EPC 2018. We hope that you will enjoy this great opportunity for interaction of ideas and encounter of brilliant minds.

Conference Information
Dates: October 26–27, 2018
Location: College of Design & Innovation, Tongji University, Shanghai, China
Conference language: English
Conference Registration
Registration information will be released soon.

Contacts
Conference Chair:
Yongqi LOU, Dean, College of Design and Innovation, Tongji University
louyongqi@tongji.edu.cn
Jarmo Suominen, Professor, College of Design and Innovation, Tongji University
jarmo.suominen@aalto.fi
Jin Ma, Managing Editor, SheJi, College of Design and Innovation, Tongji University
majin.sheji@icloud.com

Organized by
College of Design and Innovation, Tongji University
Shanghai, China
as a part of Tongji Design Week

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