ETHICS IN DESIGN CURRICULA - TEACHING APPROACHES
Paper in proceedings, 2016
The main objective of design 'making things better' is not always achieved easily as conflicting values and priorities often leave the designer in the dilemma what is the right decision to take. This challenges design education to incorporate ethics in their curricula. The following article aims to identify approaches to teaching ethics in design courses based on interviews with design educators. Intended learning outcomes including ethics in design can e.g. concern value laden issues about the profession, personal positions, as well as practical application in design activities. Overarching teaching strategies comprise whether to teach ethics as a goal for reflection in itself (focused), or whether to treat it as one issue out of many (holistic). On a practical level design educators use strategies such as: Exemplifying, Externalizing, Contrasting, Pointing out alternatives, and Positioning. Approaching value-laden questions in design from the perspective of ethics rather than tacit and intuitive moral reasoning is an arduous task. It is however valuable since decisions about technological applications need a meaningful rationale and cannot be based solely on technological, legal, or institutional policy or on immediate emotional responses. Ethics enables people to argue for such a rationale, and to consider interests of different parties concerned.