Human-Centered Design led social change
I came to formally investigate, understand, and use design somewhat late in life - in an Operations support role at the biotech company Amgen, of all places! But I think I was nonetheless a designer back in my days of doing NIH-funded biomedical research (and creating a novel study method) at the University of Pennsylvania; and when I was earning a M.S. in secondary math education at Drexel and doing my student teaching at the High School for Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) in Philadelphia; and when I was beginning to develop a partnership with my then 2-year old semi-wild Quarter Horse mare in North Dakota; and when I rescued an abused, neglected, abandoned, and terrified Corgi-mix dog off the streets of Philadelphia. I’ve been studying people and animals and ideas for a long time … and trying things … and learning things. I eventually found myself with an unusual opportunity to use whatever observation, empathy, experimenting, and design skills I had developed to help create and lead a successful organizational-change-through-design-thinking initiative at Amgen. This year, and into the foreseeable future, I’m focusing on some particular ideas about the use of human-centered design and design thinking to create more social justice.
My proposed 30-minute talk is about design-led innovation in service of diversity, social justice, and social/cultural progress. And, it’s about beginning the radical re-design of design conference structure. Rather than sharing a story about particular work already accomplished, I’ll seek to provoke new thoughts and conversations about 2 related things:
• changing design conference format (to one that will tap into and inspire communication design innovations)
• a major social justice project idea that begs the leadership of human-centered designers
Design conference format change: in 2017 and beyond, given the fantastic communication technologies available to us, we should no longer assemble busy, highly creative people to share information - we should instead enable/beg/support them to CREATE! Any information that needs to be shared in order to facilitate conference creative activities can be shared before or at the conference as appropriate. Social justice project idea: Bill Strickland and Manchester Bidwell Corp. have created amazing arts based learning and development opportunities for underprivileged and underserved youth in Pittsburgh, and they’re now helping several cities around the world to replicate their model - but they’re doing so at a significant scale. Human-centered designers can help create replications and replication models at the neighborhood level, in order to complement the city-wide efforts already happening - helping the overall network of service and community to grow faster. Through the presentation, I’m hoping to inspire HIVE participants to join me in that mission, and to recruit others to do the same."