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.
This project addressed a central problem: how can a women’s museum engage diverse communities and age groups in the twenty-first century, in the context of changing ideas of gender and feminism?
The basis for the Her Place Museum is the well-documented lack of representation of women in mainstream collecting institutions in Australia and in broader narratives of Australian history. To expand this understanding, RMIT researchers and students collaborated with Her Place and ran two workshops involving 40 key stakeholders. In these workshops, stakeholders developed engagement strategies for young people and people from CALD communities; a communication strategy for cross-generational dialogue; and recommendations for a digital platform.
School: School of Art
Grace is a published art historian, curator and artist with expertise in contemporary art and design, public art, social practice, social enterprise and community development.
Grace’s research challenges and transforms conventional understandings of the relationship between margin and centre in relation to the cultural economy, contemporary art practice and art history. She has pioneered work on the field of art-based social enterprise in Australia, and has worked extensively in migrant and refugee settlement. She has a multidisciplinary approach that engages with a range of fields including art, design, architecture, sustainability, sociology, business and international development. In addition, through her leadership of the CAST research group, she collaborates with industry and across disciplines to develop research projects that address issues of access, equity and justice.
Grace is a Chief Investigator on the ARC Discovery Project ‘The underworld: outsider artists and the reformulation of Australian art,’ (2018−2020) and the ARC Discovery Project ‘Art-based Social Enterprises and Marginalised Young Peoples Transitions,’ (2017−2019). She has published numerous articles in refereed and unrefereed publications, published creative works in literary journals, authored exhibition catalogues and worked as an editor on local newspapers and engaged widely with local and national media. Grace is the founding CEO & a current Board Director of The Social Studio, a fashion and art based social enterprise working with young people from humanitarian migrant backgrounds in Melbourne.
How can playful resistance as a tactic, strategy, mode of inquiry and creative, critical practice be used to intervene on hybrid reality? Exploring creative methods, theories and practices around what it means to think about the “playful” and “resistance” in an age of big data, AI and automation. The project was designed to create new ways of thinking about play and resistance. As real-world issues don’t happen in a discipline — it is important to do interdisciplinary research.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Associate Professor Roland Snooks is a founding partner of Kokkugia and director of Studio Roland Snooks. He holds a B.Arch from RMIT University and a Master in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University where he studied on a Fulbright scholarship. Roland’s PhD (RMIT University) and current research is focused on establishing a methodological and conceptual basis for a behavioral approach to design. An algorithmic strategy drawing from the logic of swarm intelligence and operating through multi-agent algorithms. He is a senior lecturer at RMIT University where he directs the Architectural Robotics Lab having previously taught widely including at Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, SCI-Arc, Pratt Institute, UCLA, and USC. Roland has taught masterclasses, lectured and been an invited critic at institutions including Harvard, Yale, Aalto University, Milano Politecnic and the Architectural Association (AA.DRL).