Community Engagement Methodology for the Academic Design Curriculum
Authors: Caio Miolo De Oliveira, Rita Assoreira Almendra, Ana Rita Lourenço, Tiago Leitão
Abstract: Design profession has become quite resignified over time, being increasingly associated with an approach to involve people working collaboratively to co-create new opportunities for the welfare, solve complex problems or even favor innovation processes, whether they are applied in business environments or in the social sphere. By acting in this scope, Design is articulating social innovation processes, as it is developing strategies, whether through products or services, so that the actors related to the existing context can be active agents of transformation. In synergy with this approach, there is another participatory aspect, originating from other areas of knowledge: Community Engagement Methodology. This encompasses a process for providing information, empowering the community to identify solutions to their needs, as well as influencing priorities and strategic decisions. In this context, despite having enough theoretical and practical research implemented to favor community engagement, it appears that the academic curricula of Design courses do not work so specifically with community engagement/ implementation of social innovation processes. Thus, this paper reveals a methodology developed during PhD research in Design that aimed to favor the social reintegration of offenders and ex-offenders. This methodology, made up of different methods, was created in codesign with a Portuguese social cooperative, which was one of the promoters of a project co-founded by the European Union, between 2017 and 2020. The methodology was applied to professionals of the Criminal Justice System who work within the scope of reintegration in four countries (Portugal, Italy, Romania, and Germany), who evaluated it very positively. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to reveal the community involvement methodology created and propose ways that it can be implemented in Design curricula, to encourage and favor the development of solutions and improvements in different social contexts.
Keywords: Community engagement, Design for social innovation, Academic Design Curriculum
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