Educators and students engage in a mutual-learning process with local community members or other local actors and institutions.

These projects nurture a continuous mutual-learning process between community members, students and teachers.  Other DESIS projects include similar engagement with communities and institutions, but these projects highlight this as a distinctive feature.  They aim to produce renewed links between the DESIS Lab and the wider society and may be inspired by one of the Martin Buber´s principles: “genuine education of character is genuine education for community” (Buber 1947 p. 123-139).

Proposed projects

  1. Project ZONGO- Caravans of Hope (Ghana – Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology – KNUST – DESIS Lab) (collaborative work with community and faculty members to explore sustainable solutions to solve problems in the Zongo community, in particular, youth unemployment)
  2. Project CEPS – Creativity, Engagement and Problem Solving:  Building confidence and new capabilities in disadvantaged youth (New Zealand – Auckland University of Technology – DESIS Lab Auckland) (AUT students are invited to work with OAC – Oceania Careers Academy – that provides mentorship and trades-based skill development opportunities for South Auckland youth- ‘Pasifika’ people)
  3. Alto Vale do Itajaí. Design for local development (Brazil – UFSC NAS Design)  (collaborative and long-term activities are developed with AMPE – an association of micro and small enterprises – around cases that have entrepreneurial potential in Alto Vale to promote local development)
  4.  Ajishima Project: Community Regeneration after the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011 (Tokyo Zokei University TZU DESIS Lab) (draw a desirable future for the island of Ajishima, which includes the enhancement of social interactions between the locals and visitors, among other actions)
  5.  USIS – Social Innovation Support Unit at UFRJ (Brasil – UFRJ Coppe DESIS Lab) (strengthen links between the university and the broader society by fostering a mutual learning process between university members and social innovators. It is creating new bonds between different departments and institutes of the university with the aim of empowering social innovators in the city of Rio de Janeiro)

Type of project

Projects with the capacity of building direct links between the university and community members.  Socio-economic, cultural and other differences are challenges for those involved. The focus on the design process and its results help to overcome barriers, preconceptions and to build a common ground between participants that nurtures a mutual learning process towards social change.

Open questions

  1. How can socio-economic and cultural differences between members of local communities and university team be managed in design projects?
  2. How can interpersonal relations be beneficial for design processes and its final results?
  3. Which successful exit strategies can be defined, after a long-term collaboration between university team and community members?