Designing Human Technologies

Design is increasingly becoming a part of the university curriculum and research agenda. The keynote presents and discusses Designing Human Technologies – an initiative aiming at establishing a design oriented main subject area alongside traditional main subject areas such as Natural Science, the Humanities, and Social Science. The initiative broadens the perspective of IS and recognizes reflections on aesthetics, ethics, values, connections to politics, and strategies for enabling a better future as legitimate parts of the research agenda.
Designing Human Technologies is a design-oriented Strategic Research Initiative supporting Roskilde University’s new Humanities and Technology bachelor programme (‘HumTek’), and its three dimensions: Design, Humanities, and Technology. The research initiative involves 70 researchers from different departments and research groups at Roskilde University through a shared interdisciplinary research and educational collaboration. As a creative research initiative it focuses on change and innovative thinking. The innovativeness is a result of the strongly interdisciplinary perspective which is at the heart of Designing Human Technologies.
Designing Human Technologies is a design-oriented research field, the purpose of which is to be constructive (to make designs) and solution-oriented in close dialogue with citizens and users (who identify a need or a problem). The university’s special contribution toward fulfilling this purpose is (1) to provide an analysis of the relevant issue, (2) to design solutions for particular issues through, for example, action research and (3) to reflect on how designs are used and incorporated in human lives. We have a basic human principle that users, target groups, and other central stakeholders must participate in the design and the design process, in ethical and society-related concerns, and in evaluating how designs fulfill needs and solve problems. Designing Human Technologies subscribes to a broad technology concept including information and communication, mobile, environmental/sustainable and energy technologies and technologies relating to performances and experiences, urban design, climate adaptation, etc.
The research takes a process-oriented and participatory approach and involves interaction between different user interests and designs. It is based on empirical, typical case- and action research-oriented studies undertaken in partnerships with public institutions and private-sector enterprises. A key activity has been engaging in collectively discussing and reflecting upon our different design project experiences. The keynote discusses the shared collective experiences from a total of 46 researchers’ reflections on 33 different design projects.

Presentation: PDF

Jesper Simonsen is Professor of Participatory Design and Director at Designing Human Technologies at Roskilde University. Since 1991 he has conducted research in collaboration with industry on Participatory Design developing theories and methods for IT design in an organizational context. His publications include Participatory IT Design: Designing for Business and Workplace Realities (MIT Press, 2004), Design Research: Synergies from Interdisciplinary Perspectives (Routledge, 2010), Routledge International Handbook of Participatory Design (Routledge, 2012), and Situated Design Methods (MIT Press, 2014).