Panel: Reconceptualizing Critical Utopias

Panelists: Shaowen Bardzell, Andy Dearden, and Pelle Ehn, Moderator: Olav W. Bertelsen

Time: Friday 21st of August, 11-12:30

Utopian thinking has been central in the decennial Aarhus conference series. In this panel we will explore how utopian thinking can be made productive today and how it relates to critical approaches to IT for human life in general. The three panelists will briefly introduce utopian perspectives from collective design (Pelle Ehn), inclusion (Andy Dearden), and feminism (Shaowen Bardzell), and the audience will be invited to participate.

Shaowen Bardzell is an Associate Professor of Informatics at Indiana University’s School of Informatics and Computing. Bardzell’s research explores the contributions of design, feminism, and social science to support technology’s role in social change. She is most known for her work on feminist HCI and critical design, and she has also published in the areas of intimacy and sexuality, creativity in IT innovation, and culture and creative industries in Asia. Recent research foci have included care ethics and feminist utopian perspectives on interaction design. She is writing a monograph on utopianism and design and has two additional books in press, including Humanistic HCI (Morgan & Claypool, co-authored with Jeffrey Bardzell), and Critical Theory and Interaction Design (MIT Press, co-edited by Jeffrey Bardzell and Mark Blythe).

Andy Dearden is Professor of Interactive Systems Design at Sheffield Hallam University, UK. His research concerns how people can engage in designing technologies to contribute to inclusive social and economic development both in his home country and in more economically marginalised settings internationally.

He has investigated how interactive systems design can be applied in community based and non-governmental organisations, in healthcare settings and in public services. He was founding chair of the International Federation for Information Processing’s (IFIP) special interest group on Interaction Design and International Development. His current work is focused on the ethics and ethos of design research that seeks to promote positive change in an increasingly global but highly asymmetric world.

Pelle Ehn, is professor emeritus at the School of Arts and Communication, Malmö University, Sweden. He has for more than forty years been involved in the research field of collaborative and participatory design and in bridging design and information technology. Research projects include DEMOS from the seventies on information technology and work place democracy, UTOPIA from the eighties on user participation and skill based design, ATELIER from turn of the century on architecture and technology for creative environments, and during the last decade Malmö Living Labs, an open environment for democratic design experiments. His often collaborative publications include Emancipation and the Design of Information Systems (1974), Computers and Democracy (1987), Work-Oriented Design of Computer Artifacts (1988), Manifesto for a Digital Bauhaus (1998), Design Things (2011) and Making Futures (2014).

Olav W. Bertelsen is an associate professor with the Department of Computer Science, Aarhus University. He is an activist in the Danish social housing movement and in the trade union for Danish academics.