Despite the dire state of global politics, and an unusually rainy summer, life is treating us well and we continue to stand beside everyone fighting the good fight. Kia kaha!
The More-Than-Human Lab has some new and exciting things happening this year, but classes start in less than a month so I figured I’d start with teaching. In Trimester 1, I’ll be leading a second-year undergraduate course in speculative design:
This course will introduce students to the cultural, political, environmental, and ethical opportunities and challenges of speculative design research and practice. Speculation can be described as “imagining otherwise” and together we will explore what it means to differently imagine both design and the worlds in which we live. The critical and creative work produced in this course will take the forms of object, image, and text-based design, and students will be introduced to the basics of issues-based, social design.
This year’s theme is human chimera research—or the creation of new organisms that combine genetic material from both human and non-human animal species. These new creatures can, for example, grow human organs for transplant and the science behind them has become a subject of global debate. The speculative design challenge will be to imagine, and effectively communicate, a public service announcement (PSA) representing the interests and concerns of a chosen set of stakeholders in these debates.
I’ll also be teaching two more undergraduate courses in Trimester 2, and will follow up with details closer to the time.
The More-Than-Human Lab is also pleased to join the Social Design Lab – a new Master’s level research stream in the School of Design, and we hope to recruit he ākonga aumangea, some intrepid students, to come learn with us!
What if we refuse to uncouple nature and culture? What if we deny that human beings are exceptional? What if we stop speaking and listening only to ourselves? The More-Than-Human pod combines ethnographic and creative research methods to explore human/nonhuman entanglements and ways of thriving on a damaged planet.
Reimagining design along these lines requires a fundamental shift from viewing the world as a resource to be exploited and manipulated to our own ends, to a position that explicitly acknowledges the interconnectedness and interdependence of humans and more-than-humans: animals and plants; land, water and air; materials and technologies.
In 2017, More-Than-Human Design is the topic for CCDN 342/DSDN 488 and postgraduate research within the More-Than-Human pod will be dedicated to moving beyond human-centred design, finding ways to challenge technological solutionism, and decolonise design research and practice.
Kāhui ākonga onamata include Madelena Mañetto Quick, whose Pigs in Cyberspace: A Design and Culture Exploration of NZ Farming Masters thesis explored the ways that stories about animals are told online. Working with Longbush Pork, Madi created a set of wonderful videos and was awarded the 2016 Empathy Design Award for Achievement in Design Research!
That’s all for now but stay tuned for more…
NB: You may have noticed my use of te reo Māori in this post. Aotearoa New Zealand is officially bi-cultural and bi-lingual, but for those unfamiliar with the language, I’ve linked to translations in the Māori Dictionary. In the future, I encourage everyone to look up any words they don’t understand :)