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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.

Playful Resistance

Finding creative pathways of knowledge transmission and translation

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.

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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).

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Peter West
Media and Communication

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.

Roland Snooks
Architecture and Urban Design

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).