This particular series of DESIS Philosophy Talks – platforms of discussion between design and philosophy on issues coming from the practices of social innovation – called DESIS Philosophy Talk “Regenerating Democracy: a design contribution” ( is an answer to a call launched by Ezio Manzini and Victor Margolin called Open Letter to the Design Community: Stand Up for Democracy, in which the design community is asked to react, stand up and express their concern for democracy worldwide.

This issue will be researched upon by means of transdisciplinary lenses – with a particular focus on philosophy – in order to create together a critical constructive reflection on project-based practices of social innovation aimed at enabling collaborative forms of democracy.

This DESIS Philosophy Talk is part of a series of different Talks on this issue taking place around the world, that started at the Cumulus conference in Kolding (DK) in May 2017. All the reflection produced will then be shared with the international design community, and made available on the DESIS website.

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Learning for Change: A Journey through Transformative Social Innovation

Social innovation has been heralded as an effective way of dealing with societal challenges and has found its way into policy discourses across the EU. There is a sense that social innovation can help empower people and drive societal change, the need for which has made itself strongly felt in the aftermath of the recent economic recession and the wider retreat of the welfare state. The optimistic assumptions made about social innovation merit scrutiny however, as they seem to underestimate the complexity of these challenges.

Building on this analysis, the conference will explore the empowering and transformative potentials of social innovation in the face of persistent problems and growing complexity. This will include a critical approach, open to the paradoxes of social innovation and the diversity of interactions between actors engaging in it. Attention will also be given to the fundamental question of how transformative change can be generated through learning.

As the final conference of the TRANSIT research project, we will be sharing insights into the transformative nature of social innovation, while also seeking to foster new connections and knowledge in support of a transition to just, resilient and sustainable societies.

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TRANSIT’s Final Conference

14/15 September 2017

Rotterdam, The Netherlands

DESIS Philosophy Talks

Thursday, September 14 • 11:30 – 13:00