Call for Papers – Design Research For Change

There is a Call for Papers for the »Design Research for Change Symposium« at the Design Museum, London (11 and 12 December 2019) till 5 April 2019.


A quick search of the word »design« reveals hundreds of different definitions. Likewise, there are many different designers – different disciplines, different attitudes, different goals, different agendas, different ways of working, different ways of doing research, different outputs, and different values. Perhaps, however, the connection between all of these diverse activities is the iterative development of products, services, systems, experiences, spaces, and other stuff in order to improve the human experience. In other words, using the power of human creativity to improve humanity.

Today, with its application across a wide range of different disciplines and fields, design is being used to help address significant, complex, and global issues ranging from antimicrobial resistance to mobility, from healthy ageing to migration. And with its inherent agility and applicability, design helps shape the technological advances which are transforming the world around us.

In recent years, design research has witnessed a »social turn« where researchers have looked to make change in social contexts as opposed to wholly commercial ends. This »social turn« has encompassed a range of activities and interventions that constitute a more »socially-driven« form of design, which suggests that researchers and practitioners from non-design disciplines are central to realising change in social situations.

The Design Research for Change (DR4C) symposium will examine this »social turn« in design in detail and explore how design is increasingly involved in social, cultural, economic, environmental and political change. The DR4C Symposium will highlight the significant roles that design researchers play in some of the most challenging issues we face, both in the UK and globally, such as creating new products with reduced environmental impact, design research that enhances policy-making through greater citizen involvement, gaming interventions that prioritise the rights of girls and women to live a life free from violence, and design research that helps address recidivism by reframing prison industries as holistic »creative hubs«.


The audience for this symposium is wide and will not only include design researchers, design practitioners, and design academics BUT will be of significant interest to researchers in other areas including (but not limited to) education, healthcare, government, biotechnology, engineering, management, computing, and business. Given the reach and interdisciplinary nature of many forms of contemporary design research it is anticipated that this symposium will be of interest to practitioners and researchers in a wide range of disciplines.


The DR4C Symposium is a much-needed, timely, and significant one. The themes proposed (below) are intended to be inclusive (not exhaustive) and contributions are very welcome that challenge these areas and others.

  • Design Research for Economic Change
  • Design Research for Social Change
  • Design Research for Health and Wellbeing Change
  • Design Research for Environmental Change
  • Design Research for Educational Change
  • Design Research for Energy Change
  • Design Research for Public Services Change
  • Design Research for Behaviour Change
  • Design Research for Care Change

The DR4C Symposium aims to include a rich mix of design-led research papers, from authors across the world. This will include papers where design research traverses disciplinary, methodological, geographical and conceptual boundaries that highlights the wide-ranging social, cultural and economic impact of emerging forms of design research. We expect that collaboration will be a key factor in these Design Research for Change Symposium papers drawing on expertise, for example, in areas such as business, engineering, environmental science, health and wellbeing working alongside a wide range of design researchers.

Deadline  5 April 2019

Submission Details

DR4C papers should be a maximum of 5,000 words (excluding references) and should include relevant images. Submissions should be anonymised for double-blind review. Accepted paper authors will be given a 30-minute single-track presentation slot at the Design Research for Change Symposium at the Design Museum, London on Wednesday 11 and Thursday 12 December 2019. Submissions should be in PDF format.

* DR4C papers should be emailed to before 5 April 2019.


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