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Social Responses to Nature; Citizen Empowerment through Design

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Traditionally, design content creation has remained within professional practice and manufacturing industries. Open Design (OD) utilizes accessible fabrication, enabling lay users to create and reappropriate content. Citizen Science encompasses activities where communities gather contextual environmental data for scientific or community purposes. The paradigm combination provides opportunities for communities, grass-roots projects and social initiatives with opportunities to create ‘products’ addressing personal and global issues. Social design (SD) combines OD/Citizen Science practices, empowering responses by fostering ‘innovations that are both good for society and enhance society’s capacity to act’. This article highlights a SD case study that applied OD/Citizen Science to beekeeping. The ‘Bee Lab’ project empowered participants to construct data-gathering devices, embodying Manzini’s SD approach. The case study aided motivated participants to address local/global issues, facing Apis mellifera (the honey bee). The project yielded insights into motivation, community leveraging, public engagement for social good and more. Insights have been distilled into repeatable stages for analogous activities. The results offer applications for communities, design agents or organizations wishing to address the burgeoning challenges facing social responses to nature.
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Keywords: Citizen Science; Open Design; conservation; human–computer interaction; public engagement; social design

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Royal College of Art, Design Products Department 2: The University of Nottingham 3: Royal College of Art

Publication date: October 1, 2016

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  • The Journal of Design, Business & Society is a double-blind peer reviewed scholarly journal that aims to publish high-quality academic papers that examine the role of design in business and/or society, case studies, design critiques, and book reviews of relevant literature. Our aim is to promote cross-disciplinary research in the field of design. Therefore, in addition to design papers we are also interested in receiving manuscripts on research about design that are coming from non-design areas, such as business, marketing, management, health, psychology, social sciences, environmental sciences, and others.
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