DESIS Network

International coordination “special project”

Plan proposed by the IC (international coordinator) candidate Carla Cipolla and approved in the DESIS Assembly – Cumulus Hong Kong:

Carla Cipolla  (
DESIS Lab coordinator – Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) – Coppe 


This coordination plan is based on the following premises:

  • the need to reinforce the knowledge building/ exchange processes among DESIS members;
  • the need to increase the reputation of DESIS Network, to be recognized as a significant actor in the field of social innovation issues;
  • the need to increase the sense of a “shared ownership” of the network among members;
  • the need to foster diversity by increasing participation and knowledge exchange processes with labs outside Europe;
  • the need to increase interaction with other disciplinary fields.


This international coordination plan relies on a very simple question: who are we?

Through conversations with representatives of DESIS Network labs, it is possible to observe how active they are in fostering social innovation at a local level.  Since its foundation, DESIS Network has recognized the value of its labs. Design for social innovation and sustainability is being built (in theory and practice) through all these experiences.

The experiments and practices of the Labs are the Network’s real strength. It is time to create a channel to support and strengthen the DESIS website, on which all this ongoing and distributed knowledge can be organized and communicated in a way that consolidates this emerging field and improves our knowledge exchange and mutual learning process.

A main requirement is that this channel should be easily produced, to highlight what is already being done by the Labs.

This channel is a report (called DESIS report) that, far from being academic, will be used as a tool to communicate DESIS Labs activities.

This plan presents the DESIS report as its main outcome. However, it is the processes needed to produce it, i.e., the interactions between DESIS members around this objective, more than the report itself, that constitute its highest value.


This plan has the following aims:

  1. to collect and analyse the DESIS Labs practices and communicate the state-of-the-art of DESIS Network production;
  1. organize and analyse the DESIS Labs projects with the aim of giving them visibility by identifying main sectors and frameworks that are being developed, with particular focus on embracing diversity and including Labs from all regions of the globe.

About the DESIS Report

The DESIS report will have a very simple and fundamental structure on which DESIS Lab projects will be described and organized under specific themes.

The report is part of a sense-making process, on which the identity of DESIS network itself is collaboratively built and recognized by its members, and will be a digital publication issued by the end of the IC mandate.

Differences between the DESIS report and the thematic clusters

Thematic clusters are activities that gather DESIS Labs interested in a specific theme.

Themes include projects that are already being done by the DESIS Labs and, sometimes specific (and often huge) efforts to open up new frontiers for design practice.  Many different issues will define the themes to be explored.

Although well described on the DESIS website, other projects being developed by DESIS Labs, that are outside these thematic clusters, could be more visible.

This plan intends to analyse the projects that are taking place in DESIS Network and, by interpreting their activities, offer insights for possible new thematic clusters and other activities that could be developed by DESIS members.

To this end, the DESIS report increases the knowledge exchange process among DESIS members and accelerates collaborations between DESIS Labs around common interests. The overview of the DESIS Labs projects, provided by the report, is targeted also at enabling new conversations and collaborations with external actors.

A participatory and light program (and its feasibility)

The plan will produce a DESIS report that is a ‘light publication’ (which does not mean superficial). It will be a mirror of existing practices and an accelerator of new possible internal and external collaborations.

One element of the “Statute of DESIS Network Association” is the ability to ensure the feasibility of the publication.  It is the agreement assumed by DESIS Members to:

“collaborate in promoting and developing at least one DESIS Initiative”
and “present a short report on their activities and programs at the annual Assembly”.

Members will be invited to produce their annual short report in line with the characteristics of the DESIS report (which will also consider previous reports sent by DESIS Lab coordinators).

The DESIS report is described as ‘light’ because it can be done without any additional effort on the part of Network members.

Networking activities

As well as the formal activities required by the Statute, the DESIS Assemblies will be organized to support the knowledge exchange process promoted during the preparation of the DESIS report.

The IC will also invite regional members (by continent or region) to create a joint reflection on the characteristics of projects being developed in their region; for example, specific DESIS workshops in conferences and other activities all over the world (organized by DESIS Labs coordinators).

The intention is to reinforce distributed knowledge production processes and encounters among DESIS members, and to increase participation.

The ambition of the DESIS report is to include the multiplicity and diversity of these encounters.

Shared ownership: an invitation to DESIS members

This plan also includes an invitation to all DESIS Members to contribute, in line with their own resources and possibilities, to the development of DESIS Network.

Conversations with DESIS Lab coordinators highlighted many other activities that could be developed in addition to this plan.

Therefore, as part of this plan, all DESIS Assemblies will include a workshop to identify (feasible) activities to be developed by DESIS Lab coordinators and the ICC (international coordination committee) to support the international coordination and development of the Network.


The financial resources for the production of the DESIS report will be provided by the IC. However, crowdfunding could be promoted to support the editorial production.  This fundraising strategy will be refined by the IC (international coordinator) in line with the editorial project proposed.

The IC provides the resources to be used to ” for the DESIS Network basic governance”.  However (internal or external) crowdfunding will be a strategy to be considered to finance specific DESIS Network activities.

The IC is involved in international projects on social innovation and will use these links and networks to give visibility to DESIS Network in a number of different forums.