Lecture – Understanding the ‘other’ with heart [+ mind]: The role of empathy in design research
As part of the MA/MSc Design Innovation programme, Professor aladin aladin will be delivering a lecture at Loughborough University London to discuss the role of empathy in design research, and will explore how to incorporate the heart and mind in the research process. In advance of the lecture and workshops taking place at 10am on Monday 16 April 2018, Professor aladin has provided the following blog post as an introduction to the discussions.
Operating with empathy is often considered an obvious feature of successful and effective design projects of today. However, ‘being human’ is too often expressed at the rhetorical level and too little instituted or actionable at a primary, root-and-branch level.
We should have ambition to create a decent self-directed learning framework inculcating a values and empathy-guided approach to project preparation.The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an international survey evaluating education systems worldwide; it is undertaken by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) and tests the skills and knowledge of around half a million 15-year-olds.
It’s subject to some degree of cross-cultural international critical scrutiny and has influence on education planning across the globe. The image and schematic above might be useful in shepherding our thoughts towards speculation about the kind of benchmarks and bullet points which might be helpful for our preparations in the ‘adult’ world of work or at least nudge us into reflecting on whether in fact we feel these have any relevance at all to the ‘real world’. You will not fail to note however that ‘Values’, ‘Understanding’ and ‘Empathy’ are terms which are prominent as reference points in the PISA evaluation process.
Without wishing to interpolate between you and your response to the PISA compass, here is an elementary checklist to start you off in creating in yourself the conditions for undertaking a design research process. These are good principles:
- Using simple language
- Embodying receptivity – not just restricted to gaze
- Giving space for the other to express
- Asking open questions
- Being honest and non-judgemental
- Summarising and clarifying what you understand of what the other is communicating
- Reacting in personal and human ways
The lecture and tutorials to be led by Professor aladin aladin sit within the context of students’ early stages of their dissertation journey. These early stages are reflective in nature as we try to encourage students to develop a research topic and the way to approach the topic in such a way that will be most useful and valuable to them not only in the next six months but also in the future. One of the pillars in this approach is empathy and its use both in self-reflection as well as in using it when approaching others, particularly in the context of research. This lecture/tutorials will explore empathy as an overarching concept that students can build on in their dissertation journey and beyond. You might have already met Professor aladin if you attended the Disrupting through Collaboration
Dr. Ksenija Kuzmina, Asst. Professor & Programme Director of Design Innovation Programme, Institute for Design Innovation, Loughborough University London.
Emeritus Professor aladin aladin has expertise in being able to bring together into one place conflicting agendas and disparate worlds, thereby unlocking potential and cultivating learning through cross fertilisation. He is internationally active as a strategy consultant; he is also an ‘anti disciplinary’ academic of wide-ranging interests and an outsider artist.