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Futuring: Toward a more inclusive and empathetic approach

Format: Papers, RSD12, RSD12 Papers Pre-release

Emily MacLoud and Ashleigh West
In a world marked by rapid and constant change, societies are grappling with transitions like never before. Designers are often at the forefront of this change, navigating ethical implications and confronting uncomfortable truths while interacting with individuals holding differing opinions to drive meaningful change.

This article delves into the designer’s responsibility to be aware of their character and position in “design defuturing,” meaning their influence on negating certain futures. The authors provide experiences of narrowing the scope in design projects through speculative scenarios and reflect on the implications of this practice. The article also offers the potential of mindfulness and Buddhist frameworks and ideas to guide designers toward creating futures and producing design fictions that are egoless, detached from outcomes, and recognise impermanence and the interdependence of all beings. These practices help designers to enact “contra-innovation” and challenge the dominant narratives and actions of innovation that defuture.

The concept of non-self challenges designers to go beyond their individual perspectives and ego-driven design approaches. It helps designers to step outside of themselves and better connect with the people and planet they are designing with and for. This encourages a more inclusive, adaptable, and empathetic approach that aligns with the principles of human-centred and sustainable design.
Keywords: Futuring and Defuturing
Speculative design
Buddhism
Sustainable design

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Citation Data

Author(s): Emily MacLoud and Ashleigh West
Year: 2023
Title: Futuring: Toward a more inclusive and empathetic approach
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD12
Article No.: pre-release
URL: https://rsdsymposium.org/inclusive-empathetic-approach-to-futuring
Host: Georgetown University
Location: Washington DC, USA
Symposium Dates: October 6–20, 2023
First published: 30 September 2023
Last update: no update
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404

Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design, RSD12

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