Preparing for the Pluriverse: Encouraging a critical self-reflective practice to build cultural humility into service design

Format: Papers, RSD9, Topic: Methods & Methodology

Shivani Prakash and Oda Heier

The Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO), Norway

Service design is increasingly accepted as an approach to innovation in public service systems, with an especially high rate of acceptance in Norway. Service designers navigate within complex societal systems, ultimately crafting the experience of Norwegian values through public service touchpoints (Filho & Clatworthy, 2017). When designing public services in a drastically changing socio-cultural landscape (Norwegian Ministry of Culture, 2019; Thorud, 2019), an intersection of evolving cultural values and state policies exists. A gap between the cultural assumptions of the designer and diverse users are likely to emerge. Such a gap illuminates a clear need for cultural humility in public sector workers (Sugaipova, 2020) and designers as shapers of public services, should be no exception.

Within this landscape, we ask the research question: How might we shift the systems of service design to embrace a culturally humble design practice in Norway? Our study indicates that talking about cultural differences within design in Norway is taboo. Although designers have a general awareness about cultural differences, it is not integrated in practice. Based on these findings, the study created a design intervention aiming to spark a dialogue around cultural humility in the Norwegian service design context. This intervention shares a vision, the notion of cultural humility, and a framework for a reflective conversation through a digital platform. The framework offers an opportunity for service designers to build their critical self reflective (Fook 2008) muscles through reaction-based exercises, supported by artefacts that externalize related tensions.

Citation Data

Author(s): Authors: Shivani Prakash, Oda Heier
Title: Preparing for the Pluriverse: Encouraging a critical self-reflective practice to build cultural humility into service design
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Article No.:
Symposium Dates:
First published: 4 October 2020
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Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (ISSN 2371-8404) are published annually by the Systemic Design Association, a non-profit scholarly association leading the research and practice of design for complex systems: 3803 Tønsberg, Norway (922 275 696).


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