Deep Dive into Civic Media Design

(offered in Q3, 2017/18; Q3, 2018/19; Q1, 2019/2020)

While free and fair elections may be the formal criteria for democracy, public participation in civic life is democracy’s lifeblood. When we come together as a community, care for others, and pursue common interests and goals, our democracy becomes stronger and healthier.

This course provides students an opportunity to dive deeper into some of the ideas behind participatory democracy and community building, and to consider how designers could help foster new, meaningful ways to reimagine civic life. Our focus will be on designing civic media: “the technologies, designs, and practices that produce and reproduce the sense of being in the world with others toward common good” (Gordon & Mihailidis, 2017, p. 2). Civic media may include physical or virtual objects, analogue or digital interactions, platforms or services.

Reading, discussion, and design assignments will address 3 main topics: (1) Formal participation in civic life: how to encourage more diverse groups to participate in existing social, cultural, and political processes and thus to expand and strengthen the community. (2) Collective ownership of civic assets: how to counter social and economic injustice by creating new modes of collective sharing or “commoning”. (3) Imaginative appropriation of existing processes: how to enable the public to interpret and use media based on their own interests and goals.

The course will be led by Dr. Roy Bendor, Assistant Professor in the Industrial Design Department. Readings will be provided.

Course Guide available here.