Design and Social Innovation


Syllabus for students autumn 2022, autumn 2021, autumn 2020, autumn 2019, autumn 2018

Course Code:
KD644A revision 2.1
Level of specialisation
Main fields of study:
Interaction Design
Date of ratification:
15 May 2018
Decision-making body:
Faculty of Culture and Society
Enforcement date:
03 September 2018
Replaces Syllabus ratified:
10 June 2016

Entry requirements

Introduction to multidisciplinary interaction design, Embodied interaction, Collaborative media, Individual project.

Specialisation and progression relative to the degree regulations

The course can normally be included as part of a general degree at advanced level.


Design for social innovation is an emerging design research field. In the last 10 years design practitioners and researchers have started to explore what role design could have in social change processes that contributes to social innovation and sustainability. The course is focused on social innovation, and specifically on the role of interaction design and interaction designers in social innovation.


The course covers topical areas in interaction design for social innovation including concepts such as creative communities, collaborative services, collaborative consumption, sustainability (ecological, social and economical), resilience, “new economics”, commons, designing networks (collaborative innovation), policy and governance.

On the level of methodology, the course concentrates on holistic and intervention-based design methods on the community level, including service design, participatory design (including things, agonistic space and infrastructuring), participatory innovation and living labs. More specific design techniques include ethnographic field studies, explorative workshops, experimentation, prototyping and scenarios.

Learning outcomes

In order to increase precision, the generic types of outcomes are mapped to interaction design as follows.
Knowledge and understanding – Repertoire and theory (canonical designs, important design elements and important theoretical concepts)
Competence and skills – Skills and technique (including design approach)
Judgment and approach – Reflection and criticism.

Repertoire and theory
1. Building a repertoire of important interaction design elements and approaches within social innovation.

2. Developing familiarity with key concepts and theories on social innovation.

Skills and techniques
3. Displaying ability to execute interaction design techniques suitable for social innovation.

4. Displaying some ability to choose and execute empirically oriented research methods, including qualitative observation and participatory intervention.

Reflection and criticism
5. Displaying ability to apply holistic perspectives to interaction design.

6. Displaying ability to understand and draw insights from academic knowledge communication.

7. Displaying some ability to observe and assess research methodology.

Learning activities

Design projects in multidisciplinary teams on pertinent topics within interaction design for social innovation, involving relevant constituencies and communities as appropriate. Plenary seminars on selected literature and plenary reflection seminars on interventions and outcomes.
Learning activities are further specified in a detailed Course Guide.


The course follows two parallel streams, one practical (10 credits) and one theoretical (5 credits). The practical stream and learning outcomes related to interaction design for social innovation (1, 3-5) are assessed in oral group examinations (studio crits). The theoretical stream and learning outcomes having to do with academic proficiency (2, 6-7) are assessed in seminars through active participation by students.

Grading system

Fail (U) or Pass (G).

Course literature and other teaching materials

Reading guidelines and additional literature will be specified in the course guide. Course literature will include the following but can be complemented with resources accessible online.
DiSalvo, Carl. (2010). Design, democracy and agonistic pluralism. In: Proceedings of the design research society international conference, 7–9 July, Montreal University, Montreal.

Extracts from
Ehn, Pelle., M. Nilsson, Elisabet., and Topgaard, Richard. (2014). Making Futures: Marginal Notes on Innovation, Design and Democracy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Extracts from
Emilson, Anders. (2015). Design in the Space Between Stories: Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability – from responding to societal challenges to preparing for societal collapse. Malmö University.

Hillgren, Per-Anders., Seravalli, Anna., & Eriksen, Mette. Agger. (2016). Counter-hegemonic practices; dynamic interplay between agonism, commoning and strategic design. Strategic Design Research Journal, 9(2), 89.

Light, Ann., & Akama, Yoko. (2014, October). Structuring future social relations: the politics of care in participatory practice. In Proceedings of the 13th Participatory Design Conference: Research Papers-Volume 1 (pp. 151-160). ACM

Manzini, Ezio. (2015) Design, When Everybody Designs - An Introduction to Design for Social Innovation. MIT-press

Meroni, Anna. (2007). Creative Communities. People inventing sustainable ways of living. Edizioni Polidesign.

Nicholls, Alex., Simon, Julie.,Gabriel, Madeleine and Wheeland, Christopher (2015) New Frontiers in Social Innovation Research. Palgrave Macmillan.

Course evaluation

The University provides students who participate in or who have completed a course with the opportunity to make known their experiences and viewpoints with regards to
the course by completing a course evaluation administered by the University. The University will compile and summarize the results of course evaluations as well as informing participants of the results and any decisions relating to measures initiated in response to the course evaluations. The results will be made available to the students (HF 1:14).


The education is provided by the Faculty of Culture and Society at the School of Arts and Communication.

Further information

Studentservice, K3 - Malmö universitet,


30 August 2021 - 07 November 2021 Day-time 100% Malmö This course is offered as part of a program

29 August 2022 - 06 November 2022 Day-time 100% Malmö This course is offered as part of a program