*Liv Merete Nielsen, Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway
Eva Lutnæs, Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway
Mia Porko-Hudd, Åbo Akademi University, Finland
Úrsula Bravo, Universidad del Desarrollo & Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago Chile
Catalina Cortés, Universidad del Desarrollo, Santiago Chile
Rita Assoreira Almendra, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal
Erik Bohemia, Loughborough University, UK
*contact: livmerete.nielsen@oslomet.no

Design Literacy can be regarded as a catalyst for a move towards a better citizens participation in innovative design processes. By educating the general public to become design literate, there is a chance to support critical innovation and a possible move towards sustainable societies (Stegall, 2006). The challenge is to articulate content, performance and continuity for a critical decision-making process and how this influence critical innovation and design education at large.

The concept ‘Design Literacy’ addresses the complex matter of objectives, content and practices in design processes and education. Research on multiple literacies has evoked considerable debate and redefinition within several areas of educational research (Coiro et al. 2008); the understanding of literacy is no longer bound to the ability to read and write verbal text or numeracy. Design Literacy (Nielsen and Brænne, 2013) are among newly coined literacies. Design Literacy is connected both to the creation and understanding of design innovation in a broad sense. In today’s mostly artificial world, the Design Literacy is regarded as a competence not only for the professional designer, but also for the general public in their position as citizens, consumers, users and decision makers in innovative processes.

Designed artefacts and services influence our lives and values, both from personal and societal perspectives. Designers, decision makers and investors hold different positions in the design process, but they all make choices that will influence new innovations and our future. In order to solve crucial global challenges, designers and investors must cooperate; for this purpose, we argue that design literacy is necessary for all. We argue that the Design Literacies can support practices associated with innovation, democratic participation in design processes, developing and enacting ethical responsibilities, and understanding and supporting sustainable aspects of production and consumption.

The track call for researchers to explore the following points:

  • How development of Design Literacy can support critical innovation and sustainable issues
  • Progressions in scaffolding Design Literacies from a pre-school to a university level
  • The potential of Design Literacy to support collaborative and experimental approaches of projects between: investors/designers, general public/designers, children/designers
  • How design education for the general public can represent both a foundation for professional design education and a prequalification for lay persons’ competence for decision-making and critical innovation
  • How might Design Literacy influence sustainability issues in society?
  • What are the challenges of professional design, when everyone wants to design?

Research addressing above points will be useful to promote critical innovation and to inform policy and educational implementation. The importance lies in the needs to better inform design education itself, to improve the approach of design educators, and to educate reflective citizens, policy makers, entrepreneurships and consumers in perspective of critical innovation.

Selected papers from the Track will form a special issue of the journal FormAkademisk. Chief editor Janne Reitan will lead the selection. – janne.reitan@oslomet.no

Indicative References

Christensen, K. S., Hjorth, M., Iversen, O. S., & Blikstein, P. (2016). Towards a formal assessment of design literacy: Analyzing K-12 students’ stance towards inquiry. Design Studies46, 125–151. doi:10.1016/j.destud.2016.05.002

Coiro, Julie; Knobel, Michele; Lankshear, Colin and Donal J. Leu. (2008). Central issues in new literacies and new literacies research. In Handbook of new literacies research edited by J. Coiro, M. Knobel, C. Lankshear and D. J. Leu. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Green, M. (2014). Transformational design literacies: Children as active place-makers. Children’s Geographies12(2), 189–204. doi:10.1080/14733285.2013.812305

Nielsen, Liv Merete, & Brænne, Karen. (2013). Design literacy for longer-lasting products. Studies in material thinking, 9, 1–9.

Stegall, Nathan. (2006). Designing for Sustainability: A Philosophy for Ecologically Intentional Design. Design Issues, 22(2):56–63. doi:10.1162/desi.2006.22.2.56