Completed PhD thesis: Selin Gürdere Akdur on social design in Turkey

My first ever PhD student to complete her studies, Selin Gürdere Akdur has successfully completed her PhD, titled “Socially oriented design practices in Turkey: A critical analysis of participation and collaboration” and presented her thesis on 16 September 2019. Her work involved the compilation and analysis of 93 social design practices at the first stage, and the analysis of participatory approaches via in-depth interviews with facilitators of a selection at the second stage. The findings of the first stage were published here, where we discuss the salient features of the social design field in Turkey, from which we start deriving a framework for the study of local social design practices.

Completed thesis: Duygu Vatan on the Smart Village as DSI

Duygu Vatan has successfully completed her Master’s thesis, titled “Design for Social Innovation for rural development in Turkey: Actor relationships in the Smart Village project” in August 2019 (supervision: Harun Kaygan). Her work investigated the social innovation strategies of the designers of the Smart Village toward integrating smart agricultural technological into village life. In ethnographic work at the village, she looked into five different strategies: (1) crop selection facilitating technologies, (2) the plant breeding plot, (3) the smart pasture, (4) entrepreneurial development program, and (5) miscellaneous trainings. Her conclusions regard the different ways in which the villagers and the designers were co-constituted in the five strategies, and their successes and failings.

Completed thesis: Azra Süngü on Transition Design for Syrian Refugees

Azra Süngü has successfully completed her Master’s thesis, titled “ Designing transitions towards integration: Entrepreneurial capacity development for Syrians in Turkey” in August 2019 (supervision: Harun Kaygan). Here’s her abstract:

The growing intersection of design with systems science and social innovation gave way to new directions to the design discipline today, making it an actor in guiding and leveraging transitions for more sustainable futures. One of the critical transitions today is migration, for which Turkey has been a major scene. This shift of populations required mobilization of actors and resources at a systemic level, for the integration of Syrians. This thesis investigates entrepreneurship as a strategic approach towards integration through the case of Build Your Future entrepreneurship program for Syrians, through field observations and interviews with actors of the program. This thesis draws four main conclusions: (1) capacity development towards social change can be approached from a Transition Design framework, (2) open-ended processes can be employed to accommodate changes in the social context and leverage existing practices, (3) shared visions and cooperation are needed among solution stakeholders for systemic impact and (4) entrepreneurial capacity development activities towards refugees can be approached as agents of integration of refugees to local entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Social Design in Turkey: Paper on The Design Journal

Our paper with Selin Gürdere has been published on the Design Journal as advance online publication. The paper reviews 27 social design projects from Turkey, uses those to provide a local overview. The abstract goes as follows:

Selin Gürdere Akdur and Harun Kaygan (2019). Social Design in Turkey through a Survey of Design Media: Projects, Objectives, Participation Approaches. The Design Journal, 22(1). DOI: 10.1080/14606925.2018.1560592

The literature on social design consists of studies that report on single cases on the one hand and global reviews that are offered for theoretical purposes on the other. There is a lack of local reviews that report on social design practices that stem from peculiar political, economic, design professional and educational contexts. In response to this gap, we provide a review of 27 social design practices in Turkey from the last decade. The projects are compiled in accordance with social design criteria derived from the literature. Sampled projects were analysed via textual analysis of their representations on design media. In our findings, we demonstrate the ways in which local context shapes local social design practices. We also outline a framework for the discussion of prominent issues, range of actors, objectives, and participatory approaches.

This was a difficult one to write, and it took a huge amount of time and effort to come up with workable selection criteria and a representative selection of projects. It was equally difficult to fit everything into 7000 words. By the way, we do not say that these are the best or even the better projects; we know that there are designers out there in Turkey, trying their best to be helpful, to bring change. We hope that the paper will draw attention to projects happening in Turkey, regardless of whether they are presented here. We also hope that similar work is produced for other places so that we can compare and learn and devise strategies.

Download the paper here. (Please note that this is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in The Design Journal on 21 Jan 2019, available online: here.)