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Perspectives on Designing Youth’s Civic Futures


2 December, 2013, 9.00 – 16.00
AHO Conference Centre

Research seminar and workshop organized by the delTA project at the Centre for Design Research

Citizens in Norway as well as elsewhere are increasingly using social media to engage with family, friends, colleagues, businesses, government, and other organizations. These social media are indeed becoming central in almost every part of young people’s lives, most notably in how they learn, think, share knowledge, produce, consume, create identities, and relate to politics. These practices have coincided with the introduction of numerous platforms into everyday life from social networking sites like Facebook to media-sharing services like YouTube and micro blogging tools like Tumblr and Twitter. While many of these platforms were designed to enable user generated content the types of practices that gradually transpired after their creation have evolved far beyond the intent of those who designed them. Accordingly, local governments, schools, civic and community organizations are increasingly interested in how to leverage these emerging socio-technical practices to develop initiatives to promote civic engagement among pupils and young citizens. Understanding the role of innovation in light of past and present social media ecologies is central to imagining and designing civic futures. This workshop will address issues related to the design for youth civic engagement through digital media. These issues include:

– What types of socio-technical practices among youth have the potential to support civic engagement through social media in the present and the future?

– What types of institutional infrastructures and interventions contribute (or have the potential to contribute) to the development of skills and competencies that invigorate and empower young critical citizens?

– What types of knowledge and competences do designers, researchers, and practitioners working on design, civic engagement, youth and social media need?

The conversation will take place among a diverse group of researchers and educators drawn from fields such as design, media studies, science and technology studies, anthropology, and sociology. It will also welcome representatives of local government, young community organizers, and members of civic organizations. We seek to support collective inquiry that brings together different aspects involved in the building of youth’s civic futures including infrastructures, research agendas, learning guides, participatory cultures, and design undertakings. The ultimate goal at the end of the workshop is to come up with a collective set of principles, visions or approaches that can inform the design of future initiatives on youth civic engagement through social media.

Registration: you can register by sending an email to Angeliki.Dimaki-Adolfsen@aho.no. There are only a few places available. The deadline for registration is 23rd of November 2013


Craig Watkins – University of Texas at Austin

Caspar van Helden – New York University – Media and Games Network (MAGNET)

Henry Mainsah – Oslo School of Architecture and Design

Ola Erstad – University of Oslo, National Graduate School in Educational Research

Per Linde – Malmö University College, Malmö Living Labs

Andrew Morrison – Oslo School of Architecture and Design

Angeliki Dimaki-Adolfsen – Oslo School of Architecture and Design




09.00: Henry Mainsah

Session 1 – Youth participatory cultures and civic engagement

Chair: Andrew Morrison

09.15: Henry Mainsah: The delTA Project: Setting the Stage

09.45: Craig Watkins: Designing Civic Futures: Social Media and Youth Participatory Politics

Session 2 – Infrastructures for civic engagement

Chair: Henry Mainsah

10.15: Caspar van Helden: Uchange: Design-based Learning through Social Change

10.45: Ola Erstad and the TransAction project

11.15: Break 

Session 3 – Knowledges and competences for designing civic initiatives

Chair: Henry Mainsah

11.30: Per Linde: On Design and Publics

12.00: Angeliki Dimaki-Αdolfsen and AHO Interaction Design Master’s students

12.30: Lunch

Session 4 – Workshop

13.30- 15.30: Participants will split into 2 groups, and based on the “knowledge pieces” derived from the first three sessions, they will define a collective set of principles, visions or approaches that can inform the design of future initiatives on youth civic engagement through social media. We will also use this session to develop a draft outline for a special issue of a journal/book.