Rights through Making – skills for pervasive ethics
How can design contribute to a new civilisation? This thesis proposes answers to this challenge. It starts with a manifesto, written in 2006 in Bertinoro, Italy, where Caroline Hummels, Kees Overbeeke and Ambra Trotto were giving a workshop on Aesthetics of Interaction for the University of Bologna. In this manifesto, they declared their belief and proposed a vision, concerning how design can change Western thinking towards pervasive ethics. By pervasive ethics they mean a social praxis aimed at justice and freedom, which pervades society in a capillary way, becoming a universal attitude that makes people aware of their own rights, able and willing to contribute to seeing their own rights and those of all people fulfilled.
The manifesto integrated the points of view of the writers, united by a common drive, in a world riddled with all sorts of social uncertainties. In the manifesto, the authors declared their intention of preparing and doing workshops with students of different nationalities. Several workshops took place since 2006. Eight of them are described in this thesis. In these workshops, students were required to embody the values expressed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in (intelligent) products or systems. By starting from Making, from their skills and by integrating skillful points of view, designers can contribute to the creation of the new praxis, able to disseminate empathy and autonomy and to contribute to pervasive ethics. The writer calls this approach Rights though Making and explains the design actions taken to fulfill the aim of pervasive ethics, within this framework. This thesis describes the development of the approach, it illustrates the underlying theory and the related reflections, based on the evaluation of the design outcomes.
The structure of the thesis is the following:
· Part 1: defining the design challenge / research quest and the Rights through Making Approach;
· Part 2: illustrating the theoretical framework underlying the whole work. This theoretical framework is formed by three elements: (1) Ethics (2) Making and (3) their integration, i.e. how Making empowers towards Ethics: the core of the RtM approach.
· Part 3: describing how this theory is applied in design workshops and how the Rights through Making (RtM) approach evolved;
· Part 4: reflecting on the overall research experience and the underlying personal motivations.
Before this central body, there is an introductory part, containing acknowledgments, rights of the readers, synopsis (this chapter) and tables of contents.