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Saturday, June 10 • 1:30pm - 3:00pm
Ethical Designer Workshop

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As design educators, we believe that design can play an essential role in addressing social issues. However, designers need to be aware of the positive and negative impacts that design has on society. We propose that to have a socially conscious practice designers must be critical and reflective, understand their personal moral values and goals, and be aware of design’s potential beyond a commercial and capitalistic practice. We believe that in the classroom design educators can prepare, encourage, and develop students to have a social design practice that can be cultivated over time (Addy & Gerson, 2019).

There are several activities, projects, and processes that we have developed to encourage reflective practice in the classroom. The Ethical Designer Workshop and accompanying activities is an approach that we use to introduce students to ethical and socially conscious design practices. The workshop was originally formulated in response to Ken Garland’s 1964 First Things First Manifesto (Garland, 1964) and Meredith Davis’ AIGA Design Futures Trend #4: Core Values Matter (Davis, 2018). Following the structure and sentiment of Garland’s manifesto, the Ethical Designer Workshop creates a collaborative space for a group of design students to develop a manifesto. The manifesto expresses the ideas, core values, and pledges of students, as individuals and a collective group, that they consider important to uphold as designers.

We have facilitated this workshop at three universities, in six classes, with over 100 participants combined, and have received valuable feedback in the form of workshop outcomes and written reflections. Some of the most valuable insights are the conversations on how manifestos are a useful medium to make broad, idealistic statements and share our stance, but fall short of sharing how to implement these ideals in practice. Informed by the participants’ feedback, we have continued to develop the workshop to include both the idealistic and the practical by adding a section where participants work together to gather resources. Resources range from examples of projects, jobs, organizations, and research that are related to the practice of social design.

The intended participants of our workshop are designers and design educators who are interested in implementing strategies or structures for ethical design practice in their classrooms and workplaces. The workshop will provide a space for participants to engage in critical making through reflective practice and equip them with tools and approaches they can leverage to develop socially conscious and reflective designers and practices. While we’ve received valuable feedback from our students, we are looking to disseminate these strategies to educators, professionals, and practitioners to receive feedback that will help us to continue building upon the workshop and related activities.

The workshop participants will:
  • Explore personal and collective ethics and values
  • Engage in discussion and negotiation with other designers on ethics and values
  • Analyze the ethical implications of real world projects
  • Practice crafting statements that help them understand the importance of choosing words to communicate intended meaning
  • Develop a manifesto that can be used as a reflective guide for their practice
  • Add to a shared collective resource hub
Participants will not need to bring any materials.

Addy, S., & Gerson, V. (2019, July 1). Reflective Tools and Ethics in Design. And So, North Carolina State University. Retrieved November 1, 2022, from https://academics.design.ncsu.edu/andso/2019/05/20/reflective-tools-and-ethics-in-design/
Davis, M. (2018). Core Values Matter. AIGA. Retrieved November 1, 2022, from https://www.aiga.org/sites/default/files/2021-02/Core%20Values%20Matter.pdf
Garland, K. (1964). The First Things First Manifesto. First things first: Design is history. Retrieved November 1, 2022, from http://www.designishistory.com/1960/first-things-first/
Poynor, R. (2021, August 20). The Evolving Legacy of Ken Garland's First Things First Manifesto. Eye on Design. Retrieved November 1, 2022, from https://eyeondesign.aiga.org/why-ken-garlands-first-things-first-manifesto-keeps-getting-updated/


Victoria Rabelo Gerson

Lecturer, University of Florida

Shadrick Addy

The Ohio State University

Saturday June 10, 2023 1:30pm - 3:00pm EDT
PS 308 (Design Center)