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: 01.11.2021 - 10.12.2021

Teacher in charge (valid for whole curriculum period):

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

Contact information for the course (applies in this implementation):

CEFR level (valid for whole curriculum period):

Language of instruction and studies (applies in this implementation):

Teaching language: English. Languages of study attainment: English


  • valid for whole curriculum period:

    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.

Assessment Methods and Criteria
  • valid for whole curriculum period:

    1. Clear identification 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 for whole curriculum period:

    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


Study Material
  • valid for whole curriculum period:

    Will be announced in the beginning of the course.

Substitutes for Courses
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 for whole curriculum period:

    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)

    Teaching Period:

    2020-2021 Autumn II

    2021-2022 Autumn II

    Course Homepage:

    Registration for Courses: Sisu replaces Oodi on 9 August, 2021. Priority order to courses is according to the order of priority decided by the Academic committee for School of Arts, Design and Architecture:


    Minimum number of students 10

    Maximum number of students 25


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