What Does Belonging Mean? A framing and network approach to tackle loneliness among students

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Facilitators: Eva Legemaate, Marie Van den Bergh, and Mieke van der Bijl-Brouwer, Delft University of Technology

Country: Netherlands
Format: 3-hour online workshop with 3 facilitators and a limit of 15 participants

Read the full workshop description ⇒

Are you working in an educational context or are you interested in the wellbeing of students?

Then this workshop is interesting for you! At the faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, Delft University of Technology, we set up The Belonging Project. This is a research project that seeks to understand and learn how we can design for belongingness and human connectedness. According to the Cambridge dictionary, when you belong, you are in the right place or you feel happy or comfortable in a situation1. Every person has this intrinsic need to belong and form relationships, and therefore, your sense of belonging impacts your overall wellbeing. In our project, we are particularly interested in young people – children, teenagers, students – as human connection and well-being are also intrinsically connected to learning and thereby have a great impact on their chance to flourish in life.

What we currently notice in our society, is that interventions mostly focus on how to make miserable people less miserable. Within our project, we are interested in what happens if we flip this focus on curing to prevention, and ask ourselves ‘how can we make young people flourish’? However, this is also what makes ‘promoting belonging’ a systemic challenge: as belonging and relatedness concern to almost every aspect of our life, there is no obvious stakeholder or organisation that can be held responsible for promoting it.

This made us curious: can we, as design researchers, create a shift in social innovation towards prevention and reinforce the wellbeing of young people? Can we foster the development of a so-called designing network, consisting of (public) organisations that create interventions by using the ‘fertile ground’ that derives from our design research? Are our developed design practices useful for these organisations in addressing such an open, complex, dynamic and networked problem?

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RSD proceedings are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. This permits anyone to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or form according to the licence terms.

Suggested Citation Format

Author(s) (20XX). Article title. In Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSDX) 20XX Symposium. City, Country, Month X-X, 20XX.

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