Since 1919, The New School has been home to scholars, creators, and activists who challenge convention and boldly make their mark on the world.
To celebrate this groundbreaking legacy, we are opening our doors to the public for a weeklong festival of innovative performances, talks, workshops, screenings, exhibitions, and more.

On October 1–6, 2019, join us as we reflect on a century of world-changing ideas and together imagine a new kind of future.

The Festival of New is free and open to all.
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Friday, October 4 • 12:00pm - 1:30pm
GIDEST Seminar: Between Critique and Creation: Research, Design, Activism

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What does social and political work look like today? Arturo Escobar’s recent book, Designs for the Pluriverse, and Bruno Latour’s talk “A cautious Prometheus” both point to a form of nonfoundational politics in an unexpected place: design. This seems to be a surprising diagnosis. To most social scientists, design hardly seems an appropriate practice in which to locate a form of politics for pluralistic and pluriversal non-modernist politics. After all, critics have long lamented design’s lack of criticality, its excessive emphasis on problem-orientation over more far-reaching social and political goals, and its (inadvertent) reproduction of social divisions. And yet, we live in an age where designers are actively participating in political movements for social justice and against climate change. They work in government and on public issues, passionately organizing concerned publics and conducting participatory forums, often explicitly including underserved or historically marginalized groups. In light of these divergent accounts, what are we to make of the ways in which designers have begun to shape the political?

While it has become commonplace to question the role of academic social research in actualizing political transformations, design presents an entirely different challenge to the way social scientific work has historically functioned. In its focus on problem articulation, design has long suggested that knowledge division along traditional disciplinary lines, in the natural as well as the social sciences cannot address the complex wicked problems of our age. Is social scientific and design research incommensurable or can these two spheres benefit from each other’s methods and approaches?

In this event, we will explore the process and goal of research in design and the social sciences. Bringing designers into conversation with social scientists, this discussion aims to shed light on what it means to do critical research in an age in which the problems toward which we turn our analytical eye habitually spill over the boundaries we set for ourselves and which are set for us in our professional practices.

avatar for Pauline Gourlet

Pauline Gourlet

Data and Innovation Lead, United Nations
Pauline Gourlet is an interaction designer, researcher, and teacher, currently working at the United Nations as Data and Innovation Lead. Her work addresses the role design can play in the development of both people and organizations; approaching design as a way to interrogate human... Read More →
avatar for Barbara  Adams

Barbara Adams

Part-time Lecturer, Transdisciplinary Design MFA, Parsons School of Design
Barbara Adams is a social researcher who teaches in the MFA programs in Transdisciplinary Design and in Interior Design at Parsons School of Design. She also teaches undergraduates in the School of Design Strategies. From 2017-2019, she was the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fello... Read More →

Shanti Mathew

Deputy Director, Public Policy Lab
Shanti is a strategist who believes in the power of government to help people build better lives. As deputy director of the Public Policy Lab, Shanti partners with government to incorporate communities in policy design, transform service systems to be more equitable and effective... Read More →

Friday October 4, 2019 12:00pm - 1:30pm EDT
U 411