Ethics & Values
In this teaching activity, students position themselves within a very long historical timeline to reflect on value changes over time. Value changes can occur either due to social developments (e.g., French Revolution that overthrew the monarchy) or induced by technology (e.g., contraceptives which have had an effect on sexual morality). With an emphasis on both societal and technological changes (and the interaction between the two), students are encouraged to identify examples of particularly important or significant technical inventions/designs, analyse their historical context, compare contemporary values with past/future values, and explain how values change over time.
Students often focus on integrating a predefined set of values identified during the early stages of design. They often assume that these values will remain stable in the later stages of the design life-cycle during widespread adoption and use. However, values can change over time. New values may emerge in society (e.g., emergence of feminist values), the priority of values for a specific technological design may change during its use (e.g., increased emphasis on sustainability over efficiency), and the meanings or interpretations of the same value may change over time (e.g., how privacy is understood in the age of the Internet).
This activity will encourage students to situate their designs within a broader socio-historical context, to become aware of value changes, and in turn lead students to design products, systems and services that can better adapt to changing conditions.
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 asking them to apply their understanding of changing values over time on a case study (summative assessment) by creating a time traveling scenario, imagining how a design might be used and valued differently by people from the past or the future.
Assess students' learning by asking them to write a reflective value report focusing on students’ awareness of the dynamic socio-historical context surrounding design, and how they are manifested in products, systems and services (formative assessment of knowledge).
In the assessment activity ask students to focus on:
van de Poel, Ibo (2018). Design for value change. Ethics and Information Technology. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10676-018-9461-9
Yoo, Daisy; Derthick, Katie; Ghassemian, Shaghayegh; Hakizimana, Jean; Gill, Briam; & Friedman, Batya (2016). Multi-lifespan design thinking: two methods and a case study with the Rwandan diaspora. In Proceedings of the 2016 CHI conference on human factors in computing systems (pp. 4423-4434).