Speculative and Critical Design in Education: Practice and Perspectives

An online workshop at ACM DIS2020 conference

2 half days, 14.00–18.00 CEST, 8th & 9th July 2020

Full schedule for accepted participants here

About the workshop

This interdisciplinary workshop will address the use of Speculative and Critical Design (SCD), Design Fiction, and related practices, including those that use provocation, ambiguity and activism, within undergraduate, postgraduate and professional educational contexts. The two half-day sessions will include the sharing of experiences of working with these methods within the classroom, along with discussions around the perspectives and motivations underpinning the choice of approaches. The aims of the workshop organizers are to share and support effective practices in education, and to further the debate on the future of Speculative and Critical Design within educational curricula. The workshop builds on the activities of the current SpeculativeEdu project, which is concerned with developing novel educational skills and design practices for the 21st century, especially those focused on critical relations between technology and human society.

Submissions to the workshop may include descriptions of any of the following, but are not limited to these topics:

  • practical teaching and learning activities
  • reflections and viewpoints on theory
  • methods and resources
  • assessment strategies
  • disciplinary and interdisciplinary working
  • programme and course development
  • post-education routes to employment and industry
  • the use of Speculative or Critical Design in industry, and professional training and skills development


Image credit: Oleg Šuran

Call for participation

We invited two types of submission:

1. Case study presentations:  Your submission should present examples of the use of Speculative/Critical Design in educational contexts. The emphasis of the workshop is on presenting stories and experiences along with critical reflections of the outcomes, impacts and implications. Submissions should be a maximum of 2,000 words and the SIGCHI Extended Abstract format is recommended but not compulsory. If selected, the author will be invited to present the paper during the workshop, and the paper will be made available on the workshop website.

2. Statement of interest:  There will also be places for participants to attend without presenting. To be considered, please submit a short statement of interest in the workshop topic (500 words max, can include images). If selected, authors may also provide a poster or similar outlining your own educational and research activities and interests to be shared with the other workshop participants. 

Contact us:

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About the workshop organisers

The organisers of the workshop are all partners in the SpeculativeEdu project.

SpeculativeEdu is an educational, project funded by ERASMUS+, the European Union programme for education, training, youth, and sport, with the aim of strengthening speculative design education by collecting and exchanging existing knowledge and experience whilst developing new methods in the field of speculative design. Its scope is to collect, exchange, reflect upon, develop, and advance educational practice in the area of speculative design and its self-critical approach. This project, which will last 24 months (1 October 2018 – 30 September 2020) will bring together the leading European academic/research institutions, SMEs, and an NGO from speculative practice, education, and research. The consortium will be led by the University of Split (Croatia), and consist of Edinburgh Napier University (UK), Goldsmiths, the University of London (UK), the Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute (Portugal), the Human Ecosystems Relazioni (Italy), and the Institute for Transmedia Design (Slovenia), and based on four events: two international students workshops held in Croatia and Rome, a conference in Slovenia, and a symposium, accompanied by an exhibition, to be held in Split, Croatia.   

Ingi Helgason, researcher, and Michael Smyth, associate professor, are based in the Interaction Design research group at Edinburgh Napier University.

Michael Smyth is a Co-Director of the Edinburgh Creative Informatics Partnership funded through the UK’s AHRC Creative Industries Cluster Programme. He was an investigator on EU funded projects including UrbanIxD (urban interaction design) which employed a Critical Design methodology to re-think smart cities of the future. He is co-author of the book “Digital Blur: Creative Practice at the Boundaries of Architecture, Design and Art”.

Enrique Encinas works at the Human Centered Computing group in Aalborg University. He studied electrical engineering in ETSIT (Madrid), semiconductor tech in NTU (Taiwan) and IT product design in SDU (Denmark). He has briefly supported artists in Medialab Prado (Madrid) and technical systems in Vodafone Spain. His design research work has been exhibited in the Berlaymont Building of the EU Commission and in the Center of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (CCCB).

Ivica Mitrović is the lead partner of SpeculativeEdu. He is assistant professor at the Department of Visual Communications Design at the Arts Academy (University of Split), where he teaches Interaction Design and Interactive Media Design. Since 2001, he has been promoting and introducing Interaction Design (later Critical and Speculative Design) as new design specializations in Croatia and the region. His book “Designing New Media, Design and the New Media – Croatian Context (1995 – 2010)” was published in 2012. A recent exhibition, along with his colleague Oleg Šuran, is “Life after Tourism” (2018), used a speculative design approach to present possible alternative scenarios for expected climate futures.