Research through Design (RtD) is an approach to employ design practices and generate new knowledge. The design inquiries carried out by RtD result in a critical reflection of the state of the art. RtD provides a base for reflective practice by reinterpreting and reframing existing problems through creating and revising artifacts. These artifacts act as proposed solutions to the raised issues, investigating how we can change or improve the world.
Traditional HCI research typically investigates existing products and systems. It builds upon theories of users’ needs and catalogs of technical requirements to create new interactive designs, rather than exploring a complex topic more broadly and critically questioning existing standards. More recent paths in HCI integrate RtD as an approach to construct intentional designs that inform the dialogue between the currently existing and what could be.
In this course, students will explore RtD as an approach to create their own project in the scope of the given semester topic, Sustainability. It is open to every student to find and explore their specific area of interest in that field. It could be anything as long as it is critically approached from a sustainability perspective – for example, cryptocurrencies (a creative concept for making Bitcoins' energy consumption transparent), the fashion industry (a crafted line of clothing from recycled electronic materials), anti-authoritarian education (fiction on the non-future of conservative values), or DIY communities (a series of fantasy tutorials for homemade, 3D-printed repairs). After familiarizing ourselves with the chosen topics, every student will create and evaluate an interactive artifact throughout the course. Students will document their process and iteratively develop their individual projects through critical reflection alone and in the class.