When your design course invites you to be vulnerable

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October 31, 2014 by Liat

“ Design empathy is an approach that draws upon people’s real-world experiences to address modern challenges. When companies allow a deep emotional understanding of people’s needs to inspire them—and transform their work, their teams, and even their organization at large—they unlock the creative capacity for innovation” [1]

Beyond and side by side with user centered design, “Empathic design seeks to not only study and observe the user, but really put him/her self in their place. Empathy is the ability to experience for yourself some of the pain that the other person may be experiencing. It is an acknowledgement of our shared experience as humans and recognition that we all feel grief and loss and pain and fear. You do not need to have experienced exactly the same events as the person who is suffering but you do need to have the ability to really imagine how they must be feeling in their situation” [2].

Dr Brené Brown, inspired people with her talk, to create this short animation video explaining Empathy (and empathy vs sympathy)

The invitation, this year, with the social design project is to become vulnerable. To try unknown sensations and feeling and start new projects out of these feelings, out of a strong experience. The occasion given to us to collaborate with the local organization Be Handy, during “2014 Global Days of Service“, a project initiated by Laureate International Universities in the program “Here For Good”. The students will be mapping the campus area, having various disabilities: some of them will lose their hearing, some of them the sight, some will lose their legs and others will cope with alimentary allergies. They will put themselves in the shoes of people with special needs that want to live an independent life.

Teaching social design, means passing an idea to the students that, with creativity they can tackle important issues, improve environments and even relationships. To do this, it is important to develop a sense of empathy in students. With this project, not only students engage in voluntary work, but also they try to understand how it feels to go around the city, in bars or stores when you have a disability. My hope is that these strong feelings arise eloquent, expressive and fun projects. Design, after all, is that.

[1] EMPATHY ON THE EDGE: SCALING AND SUSTAINING A HUMAN-CENTERED APPROACH IN THE EVOLVING PRACTICE OF DESIGN, By Katja Battarbee, Jane Fulton Suri, and Suzanne Gibbs Howard, IDEO

[2] http://operationmeditation.com/discover/sympathy-vs-empathy-vs-compassion/

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One thought on “When your design course invites you to be vulnerable

  1. […] Here are some of the thoughts wrote by the students and some pictures from the experience we had with BeHandy. […]

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