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Supporting Design Literacy International Network

Diseño UDD, together with Oslo Metropolitan University (Norway) and Shandong University of Art & Design (China), supports the activities organised by Design Literacy International Network. This design researchers’ network, led by Liv Merete Nielsen, Erik Bohemia, and Úrsula Bravo, was formed in 2019 during the London Academy for Design and Innovation Management ADIM2019 conference.

Design Literacy International Network (DLIN) aims to bring together scholars interested in critically exploring sustainable, social and ethical perspectives to underpin the research on design and design education from kindergarten to PhD. The Network conceptualises design literacy to support democratic participation in design processes and the awareness of quality and sustainability in innovation, production and consumption.

The Network builds on Paulo Freire’s critical approach to education to support development of more equitable society. Under this perspective, being literate means ‘reading’ the world in all its complexity and participating with autonomy and self-determination to generate transformations. 

The Design Literacy International Network’s steering group hopes to contribute to the growing interest in exploring design’s contribution to a better world, but not necessary in its already demonstrated capacity to produce another plastic cup, a chair, a car, a phone application, a gun, a sex toy, a t-shirt but by educating the upcoming producers, consumers, thinkers, mothers, fathers, neighbours, teachers, scholars, activists, politicians, and citizens, in short, the future human beings. This view does not suggest that designers have the sole patent on forming and shaping humanity, rather, it acknowledges that the designed products and services impact materially on individuals and society. One just needs to explore how archaeologists asserts specific characteristics on societies and its individuals whose historical material artifacts have been dug-out from layers.  Nielsen, Bohemia and Bravo emphasise that design not only can contribute to the material world by creating a never-ending plethora of products but also through critical design education.

In four years of existence, the Design Literacy International Network has organised activities such as symposia and conference tracks, that have brought together researchers worldwide. Highlights include «Engage with Ideas», a regular online talks series that aims to provide a forum for international scholars to discuss their research and explore the relationship of their research to Design Literacy. Since its conceptions close to 400 participants have engaged with these talks. Other activities organised by DLIN include the co-organisation of the Learn X Design 2021 conference «Engaging with Challenges in Design Education» in collaboration with Design Research Society (DRS), the participation in the DRS Bilbao 2022 conference with the track «Perspectives on Design Literacy», and the special issue «Design Literacy for All» published by Revista Chilena de Diseño (RChD) in 2020.

Currently, Nielsen, Bohemia and Bravo are leading a special issue for the journal FormAkademisk entitled “Perspectives on Design Literacy”. The editorial process started with an online symposium which took place in October 2022. The event was inaugurated by Professor Pan Lusheng, Principal of Shandon University of Arts and Design, who stressed the importance of international links for the development of knowledge in the discipline of design. The symposium was attended by 20 researchers from 9 countries, who presented 16 paper proposals together. The presentations included discussion sessions that allowed scholars to share different views on design literacy and make suggestions for strengthening their respective work to achieve a special issue of maximum relevance in the emerging field of design literacy. The topics addressed by the 20 academics included design literacy among teachers, critical design literacy to generate sustainable and socially responsible consumption habits, and design literacy for emotional well-being. The editorial process has continued with the full-paper submission to get feedback from guest editors and a double-blind review through the journal’s OJS platform. The special issue is expected to be published by the end of 2023.

Click the following links to find the «Engage with Ideas» talk recordings and the editorials of conferences track and journal special issues.

DLIN – “Engage with Ideas” Talks Series

DRS2022 – Track 25: Design Literacies: pasts, presents, and possible futures

LXD2021 – Track 01: Design thinking to improve creative problem solving

LXD2021 – Track 02: Empowering critical design literacy

RChD 2020 – Special Issue: Alfabetización en diseño para todos

ADIM2019 – Editorial track 6.b Design Literacy enabling Critical Innovation Practices

ADIM2019 – Editorial workshop. Establishing Design Literacy International Network