Rationalizing Inquiry Paths for Responsible Design in the Context of a Global Pandemic

Authors

  • Juan Salamanca University of Illinois
  • Molly Briggs University of Illinois

Abstract

The systemic disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic amplified the effects of some social inequalities and revealed positive environmental effects associated with slowing the economy. In order to explore the repercussions of contagion prevention and community engagement initiatives such as deploying face masks and visualizing Covid-19 statistics, we resorted to an ethical model of Design for Responsible Innovation (DRI). This interactive model is useful for identifying, exploring, and describing analytical and generative paths of inquiry departing from, or arriving at, diverse matters of concern such as the impact of commodification and manufacturing in society and nature, the relativism of truth, the segregation of identities, and the reduction of agency. In this paper we argue that the human-centered perspective on design relies on a biased value system that either disfavors some social groups or disregards nonhuman living agencies, and we emphasize the analytical capacity of the model to chart and rationalize alternative inquiry paths. In consequence, future responsible design interventions would benefit from positioning life at center stage and embracing the relational and dependent nature of human beings from a posthuman perspective. To achieve this, research methods capable of handling human-nonhuman units of analysis and allowing the examination of systemic impact in complex systems are needed.

Author Biographies

Juan Salamanca, University of Illinois

Assistant professor, School of Art and Design

Molly Briggs, University of Illinois

Assistant professor, School of Art and Design

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Published

2021-04-09

Issue

Section

Reflections on the design processes adopted in response to the pandemic crisis