Conference article

The designer as agent of community

Thomas Østergaard
VIA University College, Denmark

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Published in: ServDes2018. Service Design Proof of Concept, Proceedings of the ServDes.2018 Conference, 18-20 June, Milano, Italy

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 150:7, p. 76-90

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Published: 2018-07-05

ISBN: 978-91-7685-237-8

ISSN: 1650-3686 (print), 1650-3740 (online)


A “changing paradigm” with a focus on design for social innovation (SI) has emerged over the last decade. (DESIS, 2012) The title of this article refers to a perception of design schools and design students as potential “agents of sustainable change” adding new design-domains to the existing traditional design domains. (Chick, 2012, Emilson, 2010, Manzini, 2008, 2012, 2014). The study finds it is hard for the design-students to establish their “roles” as designers and have a natural “authority” working in complex and time-limited process’. The paper produces recommendations for other educators in terms of preparing, planning and doing a SD for SI course and discusses the critics views on future requirements for Design-educations. (Bason, 2013, Mulgan, 2014, Norman, 2010) The empirical basis for the article is a case used as part of the collaboration between VIA Design; Design for Change (DFC) in 2014-18 and four external partners; Teknologi i Praksis (TiP), the City of Aarhus, BorgerDesign and CareWare (CaT).


service design, design for social innovation, social innovation, design for change, welfare innovation, service design for social innovation


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