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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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People


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.

Design for Wellbeing Network

Working to improve the design of healthcare environments

What are the gaps in healthcare design? Focusing specifically on hospitals and other formal healthcare settings, the Design for Wellbeing Network (DfW) aims to improve the understanding of how people experience these services and environments. The group of international and interdisciplinary researchers are working towards improvements in these experiences through rigorous qualitative and practice-based research.

The DfW is committed to deploying their research through partnerships with external organisations such as hospital groups, designers, architects and government.

Visit the DfW website.

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People


Shanti Sumartojo
Vice Chancellor's Research Fellow
School: Media and Communication

Personal website
shanti.sumartojo@rmit.edu.au

Dr Shanti Sumartojo is a Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fellow, based in the Digital Ethnography Research Centre in the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University. 

She collaborates with a range of national and international colleagues in academia and the public sector, including industry-partnered applied projects, most recently in Australia with Exemplar Health, the City of Melbourne and Lendlease. Sumartojo’s research explores how people experience their spatial surroundings, including both material and immaterial aspects, with a particular focus on the built environment, using design and sensory ethnography and creative practice methodologies.

CaTPin

Conversation as therapy

CaTPin was the finalist for the 2018 DCP Design Challenge.

The Design Challenge was a joint initiative between Telstra and the Design & Creative Practice ECP which sought to tackle the real-world issue: How do we design for Ageing Well Futures?

CaTPin presented the idea of conversation as therapy’. It aimed to address the issue of loneliness due to a lack of social interaction by developing a discreet, low-cost wearable. Taking the form of a lapel pin or brooch, designed in collaboration with the wearer, the device detects the presence or absence of conversation. It is founded on the premise that loneliness is manifest in a poverty of conversation, hence using the number of words spoken a day as a surrogate marker for social isolation and loneliness.

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Leah Heiss
School: Communication Design

99253494
Personal website
leah.heiss@rmit.edu.au

Leah Heiss is a Melbourne-based designer whose practice is located at the nexus of design, technology and health. Within her projects she collaborates widely — working with experts from nanotechnology, medicine, hearing and manufacturing through to fashion design.

Leah is an academic in the RMIT Interior Design program, a researcher at the RMIT Centre for Advanced Materials and Performance Textiles, and a practicing designer whose work has both commercial and research outcomes. Her design work has been exhibited and presented both locally and globally, and attracted significant local and international press across all platforms. She recently received a Good Design Award – Social Innovation for her design contribution to the IHearYou system with Blamey Saunders Hears.

The HASH Network

Interdisciplinary health research

The HASH (Health, Arts, Social sciences and Humanities) Network brings together collaborators from the social sciences, humanities, medicine, arts, and science and technology. It will draw on contributions from a wide range of academic researchers, health practitioners, health service users, and early career researchers. HASH aims to ignite creative connections and collaborations among members.

Visit the HASH Network website.

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People


Jacinthe Flore
ECR Convenor, The HEALTH Network
School: Global, Urban and Social Studies

+61 3 9925 5086
RMIT staff profile
jacinthe.flore@rmit.edu.au

Dr Jacinthe Flore is an early career researcher and the Co-Convenor of the HEALTH Network. Jacinthe is based in the Health, Society and Medicine Research Program at RMIT University. She writes in the intersections of technology, medicine, psychiatry and history. Jacinthe has published internationally on a diverse range of topics, including pharmaceuticals and subjectivity, histories of psychiatric concepts, and more broadly on the history of medical discourses of sexuality.


Renata Kokanovic
Convener, The HEALTH Network; Professor
School: Global, Urban & Social Studies

RMIT staff profile
renata.kokanovic@rmit.edu.au

Professor Renata Kokanovic’s works at the intersections of health, society and medicine, with a particular focus on interdisciplinary mental health research.​She combines empirical research with interdisciplinary theoretical and methodological scholarship while collaborating with industry partners and health care users to facilitate greater understanding of lived experiences of health and illness.

She co-founded Healthtalk Australia, a digital repository of health and illness narrative accounts designed to support people experiencing ill health, and inform health and social care delivery and policy.

Care, Media and Ritual

Creative, social and ethnographic interventions in care

New media is increasingly mediating the role of care and ritual around ageing (and dying). For example, in Japan where a large percentage of the population is elderly, the role of care and ritual is being recalibrated. New media and digital mobile technologies are affording families new ways to care-at-a-distance. What does care, media and ritual look like when replicated by new technologies? 

We’re exploring some of the practices and challenges in thinking through the entanglement of care, media and ritual. Drawing from experts in anthropology, environmental science, digital media, social work and design we explore various scenarios of use (past, present and future) so that we might provide creative, design, social and ethnographic interventions to this real-world problem.

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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).

4th Annual MARC Symposium

Redefining Quality in Ageing and Aged Care

Australia’s population is ageing. By researching ageing now and creating an evidence base for all the aspects of life and society affected by ageing we are helping to build a better future for all.

This event provided an opportunity to hear from leaders from across the continuum of ageing and aged care services, from hospitals and aged care to allied health and primary health, to economic and policy contexts. An expert panel also discussed how we define quality in both ageing and aged care.

See the Symposium agenda here.

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News and updates

17.10.2018

2nd MARC END OF LIFE CARE FORUM

The Melbourne Ageing Research Collaboration (MARC) is hosting the 2nd MARC End of Life Care Forum at RMIT University. Speakers will provide detailed examples of recent research to stimulate ideas. 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

19.07.2019

DCP Lectures | Dr Anne Galloway

Cosmopolitical Relations & More-Than-Human Design Ethnography
Monday 19 August, 5:30 – 6:30pm
RMIT City Campus, Building 80.10.16 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

21.03.2018

WrICE Program Partners with Leading Asian Literary Centre

RMIT’s Writers Immersion and Cultural Exchange Program (WrICE), now in its fifth year, will partner with the Jakarta Post Writing Center in 2018. 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

10.10.2018

Shortlisted teams announced

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

People

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.

Renata Kokanovic
Global, Urban & Social Studies

Professor Renata Kokanovic’s works at the intersections of health, society and medicine, with a particular focus on interdisciplinary mental health research.​She combines empirical research with interdisciplinary theoretical and methodological scholarship while collaborating with industry partners and health care users to facilitate greater understanding of lived experiences of health and illness.

She co-founded Healthtalk Australia, a digital repository of health and illness narrative accounts designed to support people experiencing ill health, and inform health and social care delivery and policy.

Jacina Leong
Media and Communications

Jacina Leong is an artist-curator and PhD candidate in the School of Media and Communications, RMIT. Her research explores critical-creative and careful curatorial approaches to social innovation practices by museums and galleries.

Over the past decade, she has worked in hybrid new media spaces, universities, national and international festivals, regional museums and galleries, libraries and schools — to vision and deliver a diverse range of trans-disciplinary engagement programs, via highly collaborative, experimental and site-responsive processes. Most recently, Jacina was curator for Robotronica, project lead and founding member of the Guerrilla Knowledge Unit, guest facilitator of the Future Innovators Summit (Ars Electronica Tokyo Initiative), and co-curator of the provocation, Curating In The Age of Automation (RMIT & Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto).

From 2012 to 2017, Jacina worked at The Cube (QUT), establishing the inaugural STEAM engagement program for school and university students, educators and pre-service teachers. This program involved key collaborations with local, national and international organisations including Ars Electronica, LEGO Education, and Brisbane City Council. She has also worked in public program development at the Ipswich Art Gallery, collaborative learning strategy in universities, gallery management at Jan Murphy Gallery, and was advisor to the inaugural Make Nice at VIVID Festival.

Jacinthe Flore
Global, Urban and Social Studies

Dr Jacinthe Flore is an early career researcher and the Co-Convenor of the HEALTH Network. Jacinthe is based in the Health, Society and Medicine Research Program at RMIT University. She writes in the intersections of technology, medicine, psychiatry and history. Jacinthe has published internationally on a diverse range of topics, including pharmaceuticals and subjectivity, histories of psychiatric concepts, and more broadly on the history of medical discourses of sexuality.