Please note! Course description is confirmed for two academic years, which means that in general, e.g. Learning outcomes, assessment methods and key content stays unchanged. However, via course syllabus, it is possible to specify or change the course execution in each realization of the course, such as how the contact sessions are organized, assessment methods weighted or materials used.


On successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • understand how design can facilitate social change in different socio-techno-economic settings;
  • critically assess potentials and pitfalls of different design activist strategies to social change in particular contexts;
  • plan projects so that the merits and downsides of different ways, combinations, intensities and resources for fostering change are adequately addressed;
  • develop and assess a design activist strategy for social change and gain experience in doing so.

Credits: 5

Schedule: 26.10.2020 - 04.12.2020

Teacher in charge (valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022): Guy Julier

Teacher in charge (applies in this implementation): Guy Julier

Contact information for the course (valid 22.08.2020-21.12.2112):

Professor Guy Julier

CEFR level (applies in this implementation):

Language of instruction and studies (valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022):

Teaching language: English

Languages of study attainment: English


  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    Designing for Social Change (DSC) courses provide students basic understanding and competences to build design projects aimed towards social change. This course has a two part structure. 

    1. Theories and key concepts of social change the course provides a selective overview of most design relevant research on what it takes to achieve significant social change. DSC provides basics of core concepts, including sociotechnical systems, path dependence and path creation, sociotechnical couplings and interdependencies, practice change, social worlds and arenas for action, activist and post-capitalist frameworks, policy issues and economic drivers.
    2. Design activism strategies for social change (Julier): understanding the political, policy and societal landscapes in which everyday practices take place is a prerequisite developing critical approaches to the role of design in society. We move from 'big picture' discussion to defining and understanding specific problem spaces. Design activism involves developing structures and techniques for intervention that are sensitive to the lifeworlds of stakeholders but nonetheless engage radical change in social and economic relationships. Design methods derived, in part, from social design or social innovation -- such as frame innovation, theory of change, infrastructuring -- will be explored here. The project emphasis is on developing an understanding of different design activist and related practices and exploring strategies for their applicability in identified contexts.

  • Applies in this implementation:

    Design for Social Change (Strategy) has two key features that differentiate it from the DSC Codesign course:

    1. Its starting point is in design practices, theories and research. We start by critically reviewing some key figures in the design activism/social design space. We discuss their limitations, how they open other ways of doing and thinking about design. We think about their applicability in a range of settings.
    2. The course is set up so that this grounding opens onto your defining and developing your own project. There will be guiding parameters for this, but the course is also very much about you developing your own direction, interests and identity as a designer. Crucial to this is about you asking questions.

Assessment Methods and Criteria
  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    1. Clearidentification of and rigorous enquiry into issues and challenges within a self-defined project topic within a given socio-techno-economic setting.
    2. Development of a creative strategy for a design activist intervention within that project topic, including a reasoned account of the resources and futher research required.
    3. Critical evaluation of that creative strategy against other possibilities.
    4. Clear articulation of the development, results of the enquiry and reflection on it through a structured, illustrated report that is fully referenced.
    5. Attendance and participation in at least 80% of programmed lectures, workshops, seminars or field visits and successful completion of all teaching assignments and exercises within deadlines given.


  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    Design for Social Change - Strategy (DSC) 5 ects, 135 hrs

    • Lectures, in-class demonstrations, in-class discussions and in-class work with tutoring: 40hrs
    • Time to think: 20 hrs
    • Independent literature study: 35hrs
    • Work in project assignment individually or in teams, preparing a presentation and a report: 40hrs

  • Applies in this implementation:

    The course consists of 135 working hours, being, approximately:

    lectures, visits, seminars and presentations 25 hours;

    assignments, 12 hours;

    project, including tutorial support, leading to final report, 98 hours.


    You must enrol in this course to be permitted attend any of its activities. The course requires a commitment to engaging through all 6 weeks. If you continue to attend after week 2 but subsequently drop out of the course and do not submit your final project, your grade will be 0. 



Study Material
  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    Will be announced in the beginning of the course.

  • Applies in this implementation:


Substitutes for Courses
  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    MUO-E3011 Design Strategy and Leadership - DSL Project 
    MUO-E3026 Strategic Co-Design L
    MUO-E3027 Strategic Co-Design L

  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    User Inspired Design course or equal knowledge. Equal knowledge refers either to minimum of 10 ects of prior studies related to social change, design strategy, human centred design, co-design or a corresponding topics, or it can be demonstrated by passing a screening exam.

Registration for Courses
  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:


    Minimum number of students 10

    Maximum number of students 25


    Priority is given to students in the Master's Collaborative and Industrial Design Programme.

  • Applies in this implementation:


SDG: Sustainable Development Goals

    1 No Poverty

    2 Zero Hunger

    3 Good Health and Well-being

    5 Gender Equality

    7 Affordable and Clean Energy

    11 Sustainable Cities and Communities

    12 Responsible Production and Consumption

    13 Climate Action


Further Information
  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    80% attendance requirement. All students attending after week 2 of the course will receive a grade.

    Max 25 students. Priority to Collaborative and Industrial Design students, Creative Stustainability Students, Doctor of ARTS students, USchool minor students,  and Collaborative and Industrial Design minor students, in this order. 

    The course can be included in doctoral studies (L)

  • Applies in this implementation:


Details on the schedule
  • Applies in this implementation: