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Evaluating Design for Social Innovation

A case study for culturally grounded evaluation

Design always matters, but designing for impact changes lives. For impact to be felt in diverse cultural contexts, we need to understand how cultures need and value design. Design for Social Innovation (DSI) is an approach for working on complex social and environmental challenges. It uses design principles to explore different ways of understanding and responding to those challenges.

Our work helps ensure that projects are of the greatest value to the communities that they are undertaken with, and that researchers are better able to communicate the impact of their projects.

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Professor Laurene Vaughan is Dean of the School of Design at RMIT. She is internationally recognised as a leader in interdisciplinary and applied design research and pedagogy. Professor Laurene Vaughan has a diverse research and teaching practice covering the areas of design, communication, fashion and embedded research in diverse industry sectors. Laurene currently also contributes to the University research community through being a Research Leader in the RMIT Design Research Institute.

#Failurists

Creative Interdisciplinary Methods

Interests in creative, impactful research methods are growing; best practices of such methods are often discussed both in and out of academic research. The #FAILURISTS Collective initiates interdisciplinary explorations around one of the least talked about subject this in space: Failure. 

We explore various tropes around failure – failure not just as a creative opportunity for re-calibrating methods, research questions and external expectations, but also as a way of knowing the world, and; most importantly, failure as a vehicle for critiquing larger issues around the challenges of the academic and political landscape.

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Larissa Hjorth
Distinguished Professor and Director, Design and Creative Practice
School: Enabling Capability Platforms

RMIT staff profile
larissa.hjorth@rmit.edu.au

Larissa Hjorth is a digital ethnographer, artist, Distinguished Professor and director of the Design & Creative Practice ECP platform at RMIT University. With Professor Heather Horst, she co-founded the Digital Ethnography Research Centre (DERC). Previously, Hjorth was Deputy Dean, Research & Innovation, in the School of Media & Communication (2013−2016). Hjorth served on the inaugural Australian Research Council (ARC) Engagement & Impact Pilot study assessment panel for humanities and creative practice.

Hjorth studies the socio-cultural dimensions of mobile media and play practices in the Asia-Pacific region with an emphasis on interdisciplinary, collaborative and cross-cultural approaches. She has published a dozen co-authored books, edited over a dozen Handbooks/​Companions and has over 40 journal articles. 

More recently, Hjorth’s work has become concerned with how we can bring creative, social and design solutions to the growing ageing populations and, in turn, how we might consider scenarios of what it means to die well. She is also studying how our more-than-human” companions can teach us about new media in everyday life. Hjorth’s last book, Haunting Hands (Oxford Uni Press) looked at how mobile media is being deployed in situations of grief and trauma, her previous book explored how art practice can teach us new acumen into the climate change debate.

Hjorth’s books include Haunting Hands (with Cumiskey 2017), Screen Ecologies (with Pink, Sharp & Williams 2016), Digital Ethnography (Pink et al. 2016) Mobile Media in the Asia-Pacific (2009), Games & Gaming (2010), Online@AsiaPacific (with Arnold 2013), Understanding Social Media (with Hinton 2013), and Gaming in Locative, Social and Mobile Media (with Richardson 2014).


Jaz Hee-jeong Choi
Vice-Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellow
School: Design & Social Context

Personal website
jaz.hee-jeong.choi@rmit.edu.au

Dr Jaz Hee-jeong Choi is a Vice-Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellow at the Digital Ethnography Research Centre at RMIT. Previously, she was a Founding Member and the Director of the QUT Urban Informatics Research Lab, a transdisciplinary research group exploring and designing at the intersection of people, places, and technologies. She also founded the SIGCHI FoodCHI Network. 

She is an advocate for transdisciplinary research, carefully balancing creativity and criticality. Her approach to urban sustainability recognises play’ as the core of transformative interactions in cities as complex techno-social networks. She builds on this to explore how various forms of digital and playful experiences are designed and evolve in different cultural contexts. Her current research explores designing with and for care for liveable and equitable urban futures across three inter-related domains: wellbeing and ageing; impactful research methods, and; co-creative urban transformation. 

She has collaborated with leading international researchers, published in books and journals across various disciplines, and given invited talks at major international conferences including the inaugural Global Social Economy Forum in 2013 and the opening keynote at the 2010 UNESCO Creative Cities Conference.

Mixed Reality Environments

Machine Learning Applications for Design and the Built Environment

While artificial intelligence (AI) generates real value in many fields, it has seen few design applications. This activity intends to build partnerships with AI experts to implement state of the art machine learning frameworks and cloud computing infrastructure for applications within the design and construction industries. The anticipated outcome are manifold: to position RMIT as a leader in the development of creative applications of AI; to enhance RMIT’s innovation capability by combining the spatial reasoning expertise of architects with cutting edge machine learning capabilities; to develop new and far reaching design applications that may include automated 3d model synthesis, search and classification.

This project aims to develop a platform enabling creatives, consultants and contractors to collaborate within mixed reality environments and test the impact of this platform through speculative and applied design build projects.

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Cameron Newnham
Associate Lecturer, Industry Fellow
School: Architecture and Urban Design

Personal website
cameron.newnham@rmit.edu.au

Cameron Newnham explores how technology and architecture can intersect to extend the art of the possible. Using augmented reality and a deep understanding of architectural practice Cameron is striving to identify how technology can transform architecture and construction, speeding the delivery of complex buildings, and injecting new levels of craftsmanship into the built environment.


Gwyllim Jahn
Lecturer
School: Architecture and Urban Design

RMIT staff profile
gwyllim.jahn@rmit.edu.au

Gwyllim Jahn is a Lecturer in the School of Architecture & Urban Design at RMIT in Melbourne where he is currently completing his PhD. His design practice has been internationally awarded and exhibited and is concerned with complex geometry and behavioural design systems, mixed reality environments, autonomous robotic fabrication and creative applications of machine learning.

Being Wiradjuri Together

Co-designing self determination

What does it mean to be non-Indigenous and design with, and in response to, Indigenous peoples and knowledge? How can design be of substantial, long-lasting benefit to Indigenous people?

Being Wiradjuri Together is about Wiradjuri people who are self-determining — renewing cultural practices and expressing what it means to be Wiradjuri. This is catalyzed through co-designing with Wiradjuri to create various mechanisms — print, video, social media, digital platform and community events — to connect, share and be Wiradjuri together.

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Peter West
Lecturer, Communication Design
School: Media and Communication

RMIT staff profile
peter.west@rmit.edu.au

Peter West is a Communication Design lecturer and PhD candidate. He has a diverse teaching practice which moves across areas such as communications strategy, art direction and design for social change. He draws upon practical industry experience as both a freelance art director and copy writer within both multinational communications agencies and health related communications strategies within the not for profit sector. 

His research focuses on ways in which Non-Indigenous creative practitioners can better understand their subject position in relation to Indigenous sovereignty. West is as a chief investigator on Sovereign Weaving Project: Practicing Sovereign Relations through Weaving a Treaty’. The project seeks to support Indigenous Nations to practice their sovereignty, through the realisation of a woven treaty as the conclusion of their diplomatic responsibilities.

Designing for social futures

How might we live and die well?

We interrogate how we might embed care in all facets of formal and informal, digital and material context to create new pathways towards inclusive and just futures in this rapidly ageing, socially precarious, and digitally networked era. 

In 2018, we initiated transdisciplinary, cross-sectoral, and co-creative engagements to identify challenges and opportunities for living-and-dying-well-futures beyond traditional medicine and healthcare interventions. The initial engagements included the Designing for Social Futures of Ageing Communities and Places in Japan, and the Rethinking Health: Thick Data for Ageing Well workshop in Barcelona. Building on these, we continue to explore non-disciplinary-bounding tools and methods for research and practice focused on care and wellbeing across the world.

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Jaz Hee-jeong Choi
Vice-Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellow
School: Design & Social Context

Personal website
jaz.hee-jeong.choi@rmit.edu.au

Dr Jaz Hee-jeong Choi is a Vice-Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellow at the Digital Ethnography Research Centre at RMIT. Previously, she was a Founding Member and the Director of the QUT Urban Informatics Research Lab, a transdisciplinary research group exploring and designing at the intersection of people, places, and technologies. She also founded the SIGCHI FoodCHI Network. 

She is an advocate for transdisciplinary research, carefully balancing creativity and criticality. Her approach to urban sustainability recognises play’ as the core of transformative interactions in cities as complex techno-social networks. She builds on this to explore how various forms of digital and playful experiences are designed and evolve in different cultural contexts. Her current research explores designing with and for care for liveable and equitable urban futures across three inter-related domains: wellbeing and ageing; impactful research methods, and; co-creative urban transformation. 

She has collaborated with leading international researchers, published in books and journals across various disciplines, and given invited talks at major international conferences including the inaugural Global Social Economy Forum in 2013 and the opening keynote at the 2010 UNESCO Creative Cities Conference.

FoodCHI 2017

Technologically enabled food futures

How does design and technology impact food futures? FoodCHI (Computer-Human Interaction) brings together experts and innovators across design, digital media, technology, art, sociology, and food. We examine the role of design and technology in shaping of future foodscapes and work with industry to chart robust approaches for technologically enabled food futures. 

Visit the FoodCHI website.

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Rohit Ashok Khot
Postdoctoral Fellow, Digital Design Cluster
School: Games

+61 3 9925 2594
Personal website
rohitashok.khot@rmit.edu.au

Dr Rohit Ashok Khot is the Deputy Director of the Exertion Games Lab; and Vice-Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow at RMIT University, Australia. Rohit’s research embodies interdisciplinary strength and explores the amalgamation of design and technology in a creative way.

Dr Khot’s track record includes 39 scholarly publications in last 7 years, the majority of which appear in highly competitive HCI conferences and journals and include one best paper and one honorable mention (top 5%) award. Dr Khot’s research also appeared on 30+ press articles including a cover story on Mashable Australia, IEEE Spectrum and TV coverage on Channel 9 News and ABC News 24. He has won prestigious awards including IBM PhD fellowship (2014−2015), 2017 RMIT HDR Prize for Research Excellence (2017), RMIT Vice-chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Fellowship (2017−2019) and SIGCHI Development Fund Grant (2017,2018). Dr Khot is also involved in organization and management of the Special Interest Group meetings, workshops and symposiums at leading international conferences specifically around food and play, besides serving on program committees for leading international HCI conferences, including DIS and TEI.

Rohit is passionate about playful Human-Food Interaction (HFI) and has an ambitious goal to alter the common perception that food cannot be healthy and pleasurable at the same time.

#SiteAnalytics

Using data capture technologies to solve environmental and technological challenges

How can different mobile media innovations be usefully applied to understand the complex relationship between people, place and technologies? #SiteAnalytics is using data capture technology to solve environmental and technological challenges. More specifically, we’re using maps, mobile media and apps to generate new understandings about consumer behavior, site visitations and target audience reach and impact. We’re using this information to examine the usefulness of big data and mobile data capture technologies, and to translate this knowledge into practical and relevant solutions for industry.

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Olivia Guntarik
Senior Lecturer, Design and Social Context
School: Media and Communication

+61 3 9925 1911
RMIT staff profile
olivia.guntarik@rmit.edu.au

Dr Olivia Guntarik is interested in the relationship between people, places and technologies. She has co-designed and curated place-based cultural walking trails with Indigenous community groups, using mobile apps as self-guided digital tour guides, and as a way to commemorate sites of historical significance. She has led numerous industry-based research projects that bring together writers, artists, designers and digital experts with geographers, sociologists, ethnographers and educators. She was awarded two distinguished Creative Victoria funding initiatives, co-supported through the Department of Education and Training under the Virtual Creative Professionals in Schools program, to provide schools in rural and regional locations with the highest quality creative and digital learning experiences. Research outcomes included the development of interactive mobile apps and site-specific public installations, providing new ways to document and understand user engagement, participation and impact.

The Exchange at Knowledge Market

Prototyping community engagement in Melbourne’s Docklands Precinct

Knowledge Market is a creative hub for sharing ideas. Since its inception in 2016, it has hosted inspirational mentors and facilitators and fostered many new creative projects and partnerships. The Exchange at Knowledge Market is the next phase in the evolution of this innovation space. 

The Exchange explores the concept of community and new ways of understanding the shared urban environment through a curated series of public workshops, exhibitions, forums and community events. This year-long living lab is a space created by the community for the community. 

Visit the Knowledge Market website.

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Ross Mcleod
Program Manager, Design Innovation and Technology
School: Architecture and Urban Design

+61 3 9925 3493
RMIT staff profile
ross.mcleod@rmit.edu.au

Ross McLeod is Program Manager of Design Innovation and Technology at RMIT University, Melbourne. Over the past twenty years Ross has worked as both a designer and as an academic, completing a wide range of one-off and production furniture designs, interior architecture projects, exhibitions designs and sculptural works both locally and internationally.

As a designer, educator and academic he is committed to the development and realisation of design projects, teaching practices and research activities that extend the boundaries of contemporary design and the sensibilities that surround it. His experience in the fields of product design, furniture design, interior design and architecture have been instrumental in the establishment of a creative practice that spans the design disciplines.

Writers Immersion and Cultural Exchange

Changing the stories we tell and listen to

Perspectives shift and networks expand when writers step out of their comfort zone and into unfamiliar cultural spaces where they can connect and share ideas with other writers. Writers Immersion and Cultural Exchange (WrICE) program contributes to an Asia-Pacific community of writers in a collaborative way, influencing broader societal perspectives and changing the stories we tell and listen to. It provides a framework for intercultural and intergenerational dialogue — the exchange and furthering of knowledge, creativity, skills and cultural perspectives. 

Visit the WrICE website.

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Francesca Rendle-Short
Associate Professor and Associate Dean, Writing and Publishing
School: Media and Communication

+61 3 9925 9052
Personal website
francesca.rendle-short@rmit.edu.au

Francesca Rendle-Short is Associate Dean Writing and Publishing in the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. She is co-founder of the non/​fictionLab research group and co-director of WrICE (Writers Immersion and Cultural Exchange). She has a Doctor of Creative Arts from the University of Wollongong, was a recipient of an International Nonfiction Writers Fellowship to the University of Iowa, and was showcased in the Outstanding Field at Victoria College of the Arts, University of Melbourne.

Francesca Rendle-Short is an award winning novelist, memoirist and essayist. Her books include Bite Your Tongue, Imago, and The Near and The Far; also the forthcoming 100 Love Letters, and No Notes (This is writing). Her artwork is in the collection of the State Library of Queensland.


David Carlin
Professor of Creative Writing, Co-Director of the non/fictionLab, Co-Director WrICE
School: Media and Communication

9225 3934
Personal website
david.carlin@rmit.edu.au

David Carlin is a writer, creative artist and scholar. His books include The Abyssinian Contortionist, Our Father Who Wasn’t There, and (forthcoming) The After-Normal for Rose Metal Press, and 100 Atmospheres: Studies in Scale and Wonder for Open Humanities Press. David’s essays, plays, radio features, exhibitions, documentary and short films have won awards and featured at numerous international festivals. He co-edited a cross-cultural anthology of Asian and Australian writers, The Near and the Far (with Francesca Rendle-Short, Scribe 2016) and Performing Digital (Routledge, 2015), about the Circus Oz Living Archive project he led. Co-President of the NonfictioNOW Conference, the world’s leading conference in literary nonfiction, David is a Professor at RMIT University, Australia, where he co-directs WrICE and non/​fictionLab.

News and updates

18.05.2018

Being Wiradjuri Together – Winner 2018 Good Design Award, Social Impact

An interactive Wiradjuri-RMIT project is among the winners in the social impact category at the 2018 Good Design Awards. Read more

20.06.2018

RMIT Europe Symposium: Rethinking Healthcare for the Future

Exploring how design and technology can transform healthcare for an ageing population. Read more

15.06.2018

Doing Digital Methods – Workshop Summary

In June 2018, the DCP ECP and Ritsumeikan University (RU) jointly hosted a workshop at Ritsumeikan University (Japan) on interdisciplinary and critical creative methods, within mixed reality contexts, when considering social innovative futures. Read more

13.02.2018

EFI Conference 2018

At Engaging for Impact 2018 Conference, RMIT’s eight Enabling Capability Platforms will share their knowledge and demonstrate how their expertise can address the world’s most critical issues. The Social Change ECP and Design and Creative Practice ECP, along with Biomed ECP, have curated The Future of Care stream. Read more

18.05.2018

Facett – Winner 2018 Good Design Award of the Year

The overall winner of the 2018 Good Design Awards, was Blamey Saunders’ Facett hearing aid, which also took out the CSIRO Design Innovation Award and Best in Class for Product Design and Social Impact. The Blamey Saunders hears Facett hearing aid was designed by Professor Peter Blamey, Yaniv Kaufman and RMIT University’s very own Leah Heiss. Read more

20.06.2018

RMIT Europe Workshop: Creative Methods for Social Mapping

This workshop discusses best practices, provocative elements of, and ideas for the future of creative methods for impactful research. Read more

People

Larissa Hjorth
Enabling Capability Platforms

Larissa Hjorth is a digital ethnographer, artist, Distinguished Professor and director of the Design & Creative Practice ECP platform at RMIT University. With Professor Heather Horst, she co-founded the Digital Ethnography Research Centre (DERC). Previously, Hjorth was Deputy Dean, Research & Innovation, in the School of Media & Communication (2013−2016). Hjorth served on the inaugural Australian Research Council (ARC) Engagement & Impact Pilot study assessment panel for humanities and creative practice.

Hjorth studies the socio-cultural dimensions of mobile media and play practices in the Asia-Pacific region with an emphasis on interdisciplinary, collaborative and cross-cultural approaches. She has published a dozen co-authored books, edited over a dozen Handbooks/​Companions and has over 40 journal articles. 

More recently, Hjorth’s work has become concerned with how we can bring creative, social and design solutions to the growing ageing populations and, in turn, how we might consider scenarios of what it means to die well. She is also studying how our more-than-human” companions can teach us about new media in everyday life. Hjorth’s last book, Haunting Hands (Oxford Uni Press) looked at how mobile media is being deployed in situations of grief and trauma, her previous book explored how art practice can teach us new acumen into the climate change debate.

Hjorth’s books include Haunting Hands (with Cumiskey 2017), Screen Ecologies (with Pink, Sharp & Williams 2016), Digital Ethnography (Pink et al. 2016) Mobile Media in the Asia-Pacific (2009), Games & Gaming (2010), Online@AsiaPacific (with Arnold 2013), Understanding Social Media (with Hinton 2013), and Gaming in Locative, Social and Mobile Media (with Richardson 2014).

Marnie Badham
Art

Dr Marnie Badham is a socially-engaged artist-researcher in Canada and Australia. Her participatory methodologies engage communities in questions of place, identity and cultural value. As Vice Chancellor’s Post Doctoral Research Fellow, School of Art, her current research The Social Life of Artist Residencies: engaging with people and places not your own examines themes of hospitality, exchange and dislocation. Marnie lectures in Art in Public Space, publishes her scholarly writing extensively, and practices through residencies, exhibition curation and community-based collaborations. Her 2015 book Making Culture Count: the politics of cultural measurement (Palgrave) extended her doctoral research on democratised forms of evaluation.

Olivia Guntarik
Media and Communication

Dr Olivia Guntarik is interested in the relationship between people, places and technologies. She has co-designed and curated place-based cultural walking trails with Indigenous community groups, using mobile apps as self-guided digital tour guides, and as a way to commemorate sites of historical significance. She has led numerous industry-based research projects that bring together writers, artists, designers and digital experts with geographers, sociologists, ethnographers and educators. She was awarded two distinguished Creative Victoria funding initiatives, co-supported through the Department of Education and Training under the Virtual Creative Professionals in Schools program, to provide schools in rural and regional locations with the highest quality creative and digital learning experiences. Research outcomes included the development of interactive mobile apps and site-specific public installations, providing new ways to document and understand user engagement, participation and impact.

Seth Keen
Media and Communication

Dr Seth Keen is a new media educator, researcher, and designer in the School of Media and Communication. Seth brings together media and co-design practices to engage with contemporary wicked problems. His track record of expertise is in the design of audiovisual media and image-based platforms. He has worked on collaborative projects with academic and industry research partners in the areas of development aid, cultural geography, social services and disaster resilience. Seth is a winner of a prestigious Good Design Australia Award in Social Impact, 2018.

Seth Keen is interested in talking to ARC Linkage collaborators in the areas of Service Design, Computer Science (mobile applications, cloud-based systems) and Bushfire Fuel Management.

Jaz Hee-jeong Choi
Design & Social Context

Dr Jaz Hee-jeong Choi is a Vice-Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellow at the Digital Ethnography Research Centre at RMIT. Previously, she was a Founding Member and the Director of the QUT Urban Informatics Research Lab, a transdisciplinary research group exploring and designing at the intersection of people, places, and technologies. She also founded the SIGCHI FoodCHI Network. 

She is an advocate for transdisciplinary research, carefully balancing creativity and criticality. Her approach to urban sustainability recognises play’ as the core of transformative interactions in cities as complex techno-social networks. She builds on this to explore how various forms of digital and playful experiences are designed and evolve in different cultural contexts. Her current research explores designing with and for care for liveable and equitable urban futures across three inter-related domains: wellbeing and ageing; impactful research methods, and; co-creative urban transformation. 

She has collaborated with leading international researchers, published in books and journals across various disciplines, and given invited talks at major international conferences including the inaugural Global Social Economy Forum in 2013 and the opening keynote at the 2010 UNESCO Creative Cities Conference.