What is it about?

This paper documents the changing scope of practice of design, moving from an artifact-based practice to one that is working on addressing some of the most pressing challenges of our times. Design is now being situated as a proactive, social and participatory practice focused on outcomes as much as artifacts. In this paper, I make the case for the use of methods and practices developed in Participatory Action Research (PAR) to inform and enrich design practice, research and particularly education. Three key shared areas between PAR and design are identified as central possibilities; these are: a central concern of working with people; the use of iteration and reflection; and the measuring of success through change.

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Why is it important?

The field of design is drastically expanding in scope and practice, importantly it is also be recognized by many other disciplines as an agent of change. Historically, as an academic subject, professional practice and research area, design has suffered from a lack of formal, established research frameworks and theoretical practices. Identifying other areas of established academic and disciplinary practice for models and inspiration offers key opportunities to further grow the discipline of design.


This paper formalized my of my work over the last 20 years teaching design.

Aidan Rowe
University of Alberta

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Participatory Action Research and design pedagogy: Perspectives for design education, Art Design & Communication in Higher Education, April 2020, Intellect,
DOI: 10.1386/adch_00013_1.
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