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of desiGn

Social/Civic Design




Civic Systems

Credit Hours


Covers the emerging practice of applying design to areas of civic-oriented challenges.

This seminar applies Jay Doblin’s definition of ID as a school that leads to the establishment of Design as a professional practice.  Doblin postulated that what defines professional practice is the existence of theory, history, critique, and established practices/methods.  For a professional practice, the theory first gets defined based on analyzing, codifying the emerging practice to principles and the underlying theory. Once established that theory and principles can then guide the practice to further develop and optimize the practice. This seminar will focus on the research to codify the emerging practice of Civic Design – Design in and for government, which is a growing field for designers to work in – based on researching the leading practitioners and synthesize the shared theory, principles and practices as well as an opportunity map for further development of the practice.

Learning Objectives

The seminar will allow students to gain a deep understanding of the “Vertical” of Civic Design and learn how to adapt design principles and methods to different contexts. This is a research class with a focus on a “critical audit and evaluation” of the practice of civic design today

Learning Outcomes

  • Learn about the unique contextual challenges of innovation and change management in the civic sector/ government
  • Gain an understanding of the current ecosystem in the US and some leading global players
  • Codify the emerging practices of the leading practitioners in the space
  • Provide a critical analysis and identify further practice development opportunities

Format & Grading

This is a research class.  Students will work in teams and be researching (i) a specific civic design practices (review of published material and interview with the leaders of the practice) and (ii) take on the summary of class discussion and codification of one of the practice areas (process, methods, principles(theory), gaps and ecosystem).  Each session in Module 2 will be divided into two parts: (i) sharing/posting the observed practice by each team (analysis) and (ii) codifying the emerging shared and divergent practices (synthesis).  Grading will be based on the (ii) quality of team weekly analysis & presentation (33%) and the team’s part of the civic design practice codification. There will also be an individual factor based on intra-team contribution evaluation.

Enrollment Restrictions

No prerequisites. Open to all Institute of Design students.