Year: 2016
Editor: Erik Bohemia, Ahmed Kovacevic, Lyndon Buck, Christian Tollestrup, Kaare Eriksen, Nis Ovesen
Author: Viktor Hiort af Ornäs, Marina Keitsch
Series: E&PDE
Institution: 1Department of Product & Production Development, Chalmers University of Technology, 2Department of Product Design, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Section: Ethics
Page(s): 614-619
ISBN: 978-1-904670-62-9


The main objective of design ‘making things better’ is not always achieved easily as conflicting values
and priorities often leave the designer in the dilemma what is the right decision to take. This
challenges design education to incorporate ethics in their curricula. The following article aims to
identify approaches to teaching ethics in design courses based on interviews with design educators.
Intended learning outcomes including ethics in design can e.g. concern value laden issues about the
profession, personal positions, as well as practical application in design activities. Overarching
teaching strategies comprise whether to teach ethics as a goal for reflection in itself (focused), or
whether to treat it as one issue out of many (holistic). On a practical level design educators use
strategies such as: Exemplifying, Externalizing, Contrasting, Pointing out alternatives, and
Positioning. Approaching value-laden questions in design from the perspective of ethics rather than
tacit and intuitive moral reasoning is an arduous task. It is however valuable since decisions about
technological applications need a meaningful rationale and cannot be based solely on technological,
legal, or institutional policy or on immediate emotional responses. Ethics enables people to argue for
such a rationale, and to consider interests of different parties concerned.

Keywords: Ethics, design curriculum, workshops, teaching strategies.

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