About the Social Design Lab
The Social Design Lab is part of the curriculum of the Master Design program at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Lucerne. During two months, three to four students deal with a social topic introduced by a business partner. At weekly coaching sessions, the group receives feedback and inputs provided by professors, partners and guest lecturers.
Fall semester 2020
As a group of three, we got assigned to the “Social Design Lab” which was based on “Luzern für Alle” a former Master Design Project done by Aurelio Todisco. «Luzern für Alle» is a social design intervention that aims to improve the living conditions and social participation in the urban life of marginalized groups of people, especially refugees.
- Improve the everyday life of refugees;
- foster their inclusion in the city of Lucerne;
- strengthen the activation and networking of local people, social organizations, and the city authorities.
In his MA project, Todisco prototyped a web app that summarizes and displays various social activities and events for locals and refugees in Lucerne. But the aim of his project “Luzern für Alle” is not only implementing this web app but also building a network of different stakeholders who are interested in the holistic topic and willing to contribute to it. For the Social Design Lab the following two main questions were raised:
“How might the project “Luzern für Alle” be further developed, so that it attains its social relevance through a variety of analog and digital touchpoints?”
“What further steps can “Luzern für Alle” initiate in order to achieve the social impact it is aiming at (i.e. to bring local and refugee communities together and to activate the population of Lucerne)?”
Participatory urban and social development has much in common with the human-centered design approach: it places people and their needs and concerns at the center of the planning process. Therefore the process and the methods aim to be human-centered, collaborative, iterative, sequential, real, and holistic.
The group worked with the Double Diamond of the British Design Council which visualizes the four stages of the design process.
- Desk research
- Issue mapping
- 16 qualitative interviews
- In-context immersion
- Key insights
- Coding transcripts
- Affinity mapping
- Dot voting
- Low hanging fruit matrix
- Best practices analysis
In a very low-key way, we tested a messaging service between locals and refugees. A team member gave her number to refugees who were interested in participating. They were told that they could write any time if they have questions or if they would like to meet for social activities etc.
The idea was to bring different stakeholders to a “table” in order to foster network building. We tested the roundtable and also integrated a short workshop.
Early on we noticed the potential of big institutions to take on responsibility for social topics like integration. This is also why we believed that the «Hochschulsport» at the University of Lucerne has a lot of power to bring locals (students) and refugees together. However, it turned out that this is too complex since only official students are allowed to participate in the sports courses offered. When we talked to refugees and university representatives, however, we noticed that there are already existing projects which allow refugees to participate in certain courses at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Lucerne. The problem was that the offering is non-transparent – meaning that professors organize courses by themselves without using synergies to do so. To start a network with different stakeholders, we prototyped a roundtable. In total 22 people were invited and 12 signed up for it.