Design and Social Sciences

Term: Spring 2010

Subject Code: GANT

Course Number: 6780

One of the more important developments in the social sciences and humanities has been the turn to design by scholars as diverse as Bruno Latour and Ackbar Abbas.  At the same time, design has been moving from the production of commodity artifacts to increasingly more complex social problems such as designing health care systems, pension plans, sustainable environments, and even financial instruments.  This turn to what has been called "high complexity design" when combined with the increasing use of ethnographic methods in companies such as IDEO has led some to propose "design thinking" as alternative to engineering inspired planning models which have dominated fields such as international development.  Drawing upon the unique strengths of the New School, this course will map out some of the areas of interaction between design studies and the social sciences and humanities.  Some of the topics will include: 1) wicked problems; 2) ritual, brainstorming, and prototyping; 3) the phenomenology of affect;  4) the performativity of finance; 5) designing architectures of choice; 6) infrastructure and its discontents. Readings will include Gillian Tett's Fools Gold; Heidegger's The Question Concerning Technology; Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler, Nudge; Tim Brown, Change By Design; John Thackera's In The Bubble; Chris Anderson's The Long Tail; Bruno Latour, The Love of Aramis; Bent Flyvbjerg, Making Social Science Matter.  There will be a special focus on the global financial crisis as an example of design failure.  Students should have read Fools Gold for the first class. Students will be encouraged to come up with their own projects.


Tuesdays, 3-6. Limit 8, permission of the instructor required.

< back

Connect with the New School