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.
View the report here.
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.
Creative Ecologies is a collaborative investigation into what makes Australia’s creative landscapes tick. The aim is to understand what it takes to build thriving creative communities and then develop tools to foster their growth.
The goal of the project is to develop a simple way of articulating the complex ways creative ecologies operate. Core to this will be highlighting connections to the wider society and demonstrating value beyond purely economic indicators. The long-term ambition of Creative Ecologies is to expand our understanding and appreciation of creative exertion – and have its central place in Australia’s national character recognised. It will do this by developing and raising awareness of a framework and resource for policymakers, practitioners and advocates. This will be a live, interactive visual map of the nation’s creative ecologies, combining data, case studies and avenues for connection across the sector.
The project began in late 2017 and the arising work and findings including a national survey, one-on-one consultations, interactive workshops were presented at the Engaging For Impact conference in February 2018. Creative Ecologies now has an expanded list of RMIT researchers on board
○Jan van Schaik, Senior Lecturer, School Architecture & Urban Design
○Marnie Badham, Vice Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Art
○Bronwyn Coate, Senior Lecturer, Economics, Finance and Marketing
○Gretchen Coombs, Postdoctoral Fellow, DCP ECP
○Christine Phillips, Senior Lecturer, Architecture & Urban Design
○Professor Jason Potts, Economics, Finance and Marketing
○Noel Waite, Senior Lecturer, Communication Design
○ Professor Ellie Rennie, Digital Ethnography Research Centre
○Professor Mark Sanderson, Computer Science and Information Technology
You can find out more about CREATIVE ECOLOGIES here.
Jan van Schaik
School: Architecture and Urban Design
Jan van Schaik is a practising architect at MvS Architects, a researcher and senior lecturer at RMIT Architecture & Urban Design, and a creative and cultural industries strategist at Future Tense. His is the leader of the ‘Culture and Society’ research stream, and a PhD superrvisor of established architects conducting post-professional reflective practice research. Jan is the founder of the WRITING & CONCEPTS lecture and publication series which reflects of the role that writing plays in visual arts practice. Jan is also one of the founders of Creative Ecologies„ a collaborative investigation into what makes Australia’s creative landscapes tick. The aim is to understand what it takes to build thriving creative communities and then develop tools to foster their growth.
Games for Change takes a play-focused, iteration-based approach to game design. Our first Games for Social Change Workshop saw participants engage in experimental learning and social engagement surrounding a particular topic: ecosystem problems. Young students learnt about game designing and what makes a ‘good’ game. They considered specific environmental issues and then worked together to design and test a game that would help solve that problem.
Game design involves a creative and iterative process guided by prototyping, playing and testing and then refining. Through our Games for Change Workshops we’re making the game design process accessible and actionable for any topic and varying participants.
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).
Hugh Davies is an artist, curator and researcher of games and play. His practice explores histories of media devices and cultures of games in the Asia Pacific Region. Awarded a PhD in Art, Design and Architecture from Monash University in 2014, Hugh’s studies in game cultures have been supported with fellowships from Tokyo Art and Space, M+ Museum of Visual Culture and the Hong Kong Design Trust. Hugh is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at RMIT in Melbourne, Australia.
The project expects to produce innovations in the area of urban soundscape design by using an interdisciplinary approach that combines biophilic design, ambiance theory and sound art installation practices. Investigating new techniques for the creation of sound art installations, it hopes to advance the effectiveness of urban renewal initiatives. This should provide significant benefits, such as improving the quality of life in urban centres by producing restful and restorative places and identifying pathways for the involvement of creative practitioners in the design and management of the built environment.
This project was awarded an ARC DECRA.
Dr Jordan Lacey is a transdisciplinary creative practice researcher and DECRA Fellow in the School of Design at RMIT University. He is the author of Sonic Rupture: a practice-led approach to urban soundscape design (Bloomsbury 2016), and various articles, which explore the role of sound installations in transforming urban life. Originally a musician and sound-artist, Jordan has become increasingly focused on the urban environment as evolving into sites-of-encounter that might exceed the typical day-to-day functions of city life. He has produced numerous sound art installations, funded by government and industry partners, that seek to influence approaches to urban design. Recently, he has become interested in posthuman critical theory as a means to question the meaning of being human in a changing world, and the ways in which sonic practices might contribute to this conversation.
In September 2018 the DCP launched its first Design Challenge, the Designing for Ageing Well Challenge. This called for interdisciplinary teams to develop innovative ideas that reimagine the future of digital health, social innovation and ageing well. We are excited to announce our four shortlisted teams and their projects here. Read more
Hardik Bhimani is a PhD student in the School of Economics, Finance and Marketing and is concurrently completing a Graduate Diploma in Psychology at Monash University. Hardik holds a Masters in Applied Finance from Kaplan Business School (Sydney) and is a member of the prestigious Strategic Management Society.
“Managers face many strategic decisions but they often make unsustainable choices. So the challenge for todays’ firms is – how to effectively make social, environmental and economic choices?”
Prior to joining RMIT, where Hardik currently teaches Strategic Management courses, he was an award winning strategist and subject matter expert at several multinational organisations. It was during this period that he cultivated a curiosity for behavioural strategy. Ultimately, the quest to advance his research found him a ‘home’ at RMIT University’s Behavioural Business Lab.
“The access to supportive supervisors and a team of like-minded critical thinkers means the research journey is not only pleasant, but also engaging.”
Hardik’s research aims to understand the micro foundations of the interplay between social, environmental and economic strategic choices. His mixed-method research takes a behavioural strategy perspective and explains psychological influences, which affect strategic decision-making. In turn, the findings could guide managers’ to effectively de-bias their decision-making process, for a more sustainable strategic choice.
Interdisciplinary conservation scientist, Senior Research Fellow, NESP Threatened Species Recovery Hub; Senior Lecturer, School of Global, Urban and Social Studies; ICON Science Research Group, Centre for Urban Research, RMIT University, Melbourne
Georgia is an ecologist and conservation scientist. She is a Senior Research Fellow in RMIT’s ICON Science Research Group and Centre for Urban Research, and Senior Lecturer in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies, where she teaches Ecological Foundations of Planning. For over a decade, she has conducted research that addresses the critical challenge of conserving and enhancing biodiversity in urban environments. Her protocol for Biodiversity Sensitive Urban Design, codeveloped with Prof Sarah Bekessy, was a finalist in the Banksia Sustainable Cities Award 2016. Georgia has contributed to and led projects on biodiversity sensitive urban design for greenfield and urban renewal development projects, with local government (City of Melbourne), industry (GHD) and philanthropic (The Myer Foundation) organisations. She also co-leads projects for the National Environmental Science Program’s Threatened Species Recovery Hub and the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning that aim reconnect people with nature in a way that fosters care and stewardship for nature. She is a CI on a current ARC Linkage Project (Designing green spaces for biodiversity and human well-being), with project partners the City of Melbourne, ARUP, Greening Australia and Phillip Johnson Landscapes.
Natalie Hendry is a Vice Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Media and Communications. Her research explores everyday social media and digital technology practices in the context of critical approaches to education, mental health, media, wellbeing, youth studies and policy. This brings together her experience prior to academia, working in community education, secondary schools and hospital settings, and consulting for health organisations and industry. Using digital ethnography and creative workshop methods, her postdoctoral research explores emerging and potential online opportunities to enhance digital outreach and media-based support for young people whose parents or adult family members are experiencing mental ill-health.
Peter Kelly is Professor of Education and Head of UNESCO UNEVOC at RMIT University. His recent former role was as Associate Dean, Research and Innovation, in the School of Education at RMIT. Previous positions include at Edge Hill University (UK), Deakin University, Monash University, the University of Queensland (UQ).
Kelly is a social researcher who has published extensively on young people, social theory and globalisation. His current research interests include a critical engagement with young people and new cultures of education/work/democracy in the context of the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis, and with the challenges associated with the emergence of the Anthropocene. He is currently the lead CI on an ARC Discovery Project (DP 170100547) Art Based Social Enterprises and Marginalised Young People’s Transitions.
With colleagues, Kelly leads a research program titled Young People’s Well-being, Resilience and Enterprise: Critical Perspectives for the Anthropocene: https://youngpeopleanthropocene.org/
Kelly has published extensively on young people and the practice of youth studies. His books include: Working in Jamie’s Kitchen: Salvation, Passion and Young Workers (2009), The Self as Enterprise: Foucault and the “Spirit” of 21st Century Capitalism (2013), The Moral Geographies of Children, Young People and Food: Beyond Jamie’s School Dinners (2014), A Critical Youth Studies for the 21st Century (2015), Young People and the Aesthetics of Health Promotion: Beyond Reason, Rationality and Risk (2016), and Neo-Liberalism and Austerity: The Moral Economies of Young People’s Health and Well-Being (2017). He has two recently published books: Rethinking Young People’s Marginalisation: Beyond neo-Liberal Futures? (2018), Young People and the Politics of Outrage and Hope (2018).
Dr Martyn Hook is Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor Partnerships in the College of Design and Social Context at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. He also holds the position of Dean at RMIT’s School of Architecture & Design alongside his role as Professor of Architecture. In addition to his work at RMIT Martyn is a director of multi award winning iredale pedersen hook architects, a studio practice based in Melbourne and Perth dedicated to appropriate design of effective sustainable buildings with a responsible environmental and social agenda.
Hook has particular expertise in the implementation of strategic vision in creative practice and driving organisational change through the lens of an integrated scholarship model that links teaching and research. Prior to this appointment he was Acting Dean of the School of Architecture & Design and Acting Head of the School of Art.
Cees Bil is Professor within the School of Engineering at RMIT’s Bundoora campus. He is a member of Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS), a member of the Dutch Association of Aerospace Engineers (NVvL) and a senior member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). His areas of research and consulting expertise include aerodynamics, Aerospace Design and Optimisation, Dynamics and Control, Computer-Aided Engineering as well as Simulation and Modelling.
Esther Charlesworth is a Professor in the School of Architecture and Design at RMIT University, and the Academic Director of the RMIT Master of Disaster, Design and Development degree [MoDDD]. She is also the founding Director of Architects without Frontiers (AWF). Since 2002, AWF has undertaken over 40 health, education and social infrastructure projects in 12 countries for vulnerable communities, and has been described by ABC radio broadcaster Phillip Adams as ‘destined to develop into one of the greater forces of good on this battered planet’.
Charlesworth has published seven books on the theme of social justice and architecture, including: Humanitarian Architecture (2014) and Sustainable Housing Reconstruction (2015).