Ethics & Values
This teaching activity introduces students to value systems different from the Western value system, so that they can describe each value system and where it comes from and characterise each value system according to how it differs from the value system of the West. Finally, students work with combining different value systems as a way of identifying themselves with different value systems.
In the books The Patterning Instinct (Lent, 2017) and The Geography of Thought (Nisbett, 2003) the authors argue that humans will not be able to solve today’s environmental problems if they do not combine human knowledge systems from the West, the East and indigenous cultures. The different knowledge systems or “ways of seeing” present very different ways of understanding values and virtues.
Contemporary designers and engineers are educated in university institutions that build on scientific traditions that mainly come out of the Western knowledge systems. Thus, it is important to look beyond the Western knowledge systems and the values that they represent and look into other cultures’ value systems.
This teaching activity introduces students to alternative value systems as they are covered in Lent (2017), Nisbett (2003), Ndubuisi (2017) and Somé (1999) through a lecture. Through this lecture, students get an introduction to a broader perspective on values than the one offered by Western cultures. Students become aware of how they might look into value systems alternative to the one offered by Western cultures.
The lecture is followed by a seminar where students discuss the differences between the value systems that they are introduced to. The students end with producing a combined list of values offered by the West and alternative value systems, and some research questions that open up for further research on values in other cultures.
After the teaching activity students will be able to:
To assess whether the intended learning outcomes were attained by the teaching activity the following assessment activities can be carried out (in class or after class).
Assess students’ learning by making them use their knowledge to co-create a round robin chart (formative assessment) with open-ended questions. Ask them to use the alternative value systems and focus questions around phenomena seen from different historical and cultural perspectives as well as the implications this might have for design practice.
Assess students' learning by asking them to use their knowledge about different value systems related to a case study (summative assessment) that addresses one of the cultures introduced in the lecture. Ask them to highlight the difference in value systems when compared to the Western value systems and focus on describing how their design works (or should be adapted) if it was to be implemented in a different culture.
In the assessment activity ask students to focus on:
Heike Winschiers-Theophilus & Nicola J. Bidwell (2013) Toward an Afro- Centric Indigenous HCI Paradigm, International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, 29:4, 243-255, http:// 10.1080/10447318.2013.765763
Lent, Jeremy (2017). The patterning instinct: A cultural history of humanity’s search for meaning (First edition). Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books.
Ndubuisi, Ani (2017.) Re-empowering Indigenous Principles for Conflict Resolution in Africa: Implications for the African Union. Africology: the Journal of Pan African Studies, 10(9), 15-35.
Nisbett, Richard E. (2003) The Geography of thought – how Asians think differently … and why. New York: Free Press, Simon & Schuster.
Somé, Sobonfu (1999). The spirit of intimacy – ancient African teachings in the ways of relationships. Albany, CA: Berkeley Hills Books.