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Critical Practices as Cultural Critique

Laura Mitchell has published the article “Designing for Dialogue” on Medium. The article features New Media course Critical Practice, co-taught by Eric Paulos and Jill Miller. The course is a hands-on, studio design course where students work at the intersection of technological innovation and socially engaged art. Students integrated a suite of digital fabrication tools with social design methods to create work that engages in cultural critique. Working with innovative technologies and radical, new art practices, this course explored: hybrid art forms, critical design for community engagement, interventions in public spaces, tactical media and disobedient objects. These new making strategies reframe our notions of people, places and participation.

Also featured was Design Methodology “a course that introduces students to the tools and processes behind design — including exercises like framing problems as “how might we” statements, pointing out opportunities for innovation in the process.” Mitchell explores the aftermath of this November’s election and how students in Design Methodology responded to America’s response.

From the article:

“On the morning after the election, post-its appeared in a Jacobs Hall studio. With Americans across the political spectrum awakening to a new reality, the post-its were full of questions that spanned a wide range of topics, from policy to broader questions around tolerance, safety, and community. Each question, however, began with the same phrase: “How might we.
“For students in Design Methodology, the “how might we” exercise, guided by instructors Sara Beckman and Dennis Lieu, provided a framework for building on their questions about public discourse amid a clear sense of national division.
“As students generated questions on post-its, shared themes began to emerge, from voter participation to sociocultural divides. These shared themes helped shape the next step in the process, which the class took on in their next meeting, splitting into teams and brainstorming around a given theme.
“Positioned at the intersection of technological innovation and socially engaged art, Critical Practices focuses on cultural critique, using “new making strategies [to] reframe our notions of people, places, and participation.” Following the election, this focus felt particularly relevant. “This class has a lot of experience thinking about what it means to be a community — how we design communities, how we engage in communities,” says the course’s instructor, Jill Miller.
“Working as hybrid practitioners, the students have spent the semester building a toolkit of vocabularies, methods, and technical skills, weaving together ideas from spaces as diverse as performance art, social design, and the maker movement. Through a series of assignments, labeled “provocations,” they have begun to apply these lessons to creating work meant to prompt new modes of engagement with issues from campus sexual assault to diversity in the media.”

Read the entire article here

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