Social design pedagogy and the UN SDGs
Bridging theory and practice to foster critical agency for sustainable futures
Keywords:social design, sustainability, UN SDGs, criticality
This paper reflects on designing, coordinating, and teaching into a third-year unit of study, Design for Social Impact, at The University of Sydney, Australia in 2020 and 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic. It specifically comments on how the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are used to scaffold student projects in social design spaces. What we are interested in extracting from the entire unit of study is the ways in which design pedagogy for social change combines design theory and practice to deepen enquiry into what, how and why student social designers design. To do so we pay specific attention to what constitutes social design, and the role of a “social designer.” We discuss how design theory and practice might underpin a student’s understanding and application of critical agency over their practice of design. Further, we draw specific attention to the unique challenges and complexities of the practice of social design for students in the context of COVID-19. The intention of this paper is to contribute to critical discussion of social design pedagogy and offer insights into the ways in which the SDGs might contribute to this pedagogy.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Melinda Gaughwin, Sarah Ellice-Flint
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