Read about past and present projects based in the Design Societies Research Unit.
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Adventures in Aesthetics: Beyond the Bifurcation of Nature
An interdisciplinary investigation into more-than-human aesthetics, involving scholars in design, STS and philosophy, probing its necessity in times of climatic crisis and socio-environmental devastation.
Adventures in Aesthetics develops a distinctive approach to aesthetics, drawing on the work of Whitehead and Guattari, where processes of feeling and experience undergird all areas of existence including social processes and knowledge practices. Thus, aesthetics is understood as a fundamental category, rather than a human criteria, the preserve of the arts or a decoration to social processes.
The project develops new modes of sensitisation to technoscientific matters of care and concern through empirical and practice-led research. It also features the forthcoming volume ‘More-than-human aesthetics’, a collaboration between Professor Alex Wilkie and the philosopher Dr. Melanie Sehgal, where contributors investigate aesthetics in relation to design, geoforensics, healthcare, interactivity, learning and pedagogy, nuclear waste, and race.
To err is more-than-human: Pluralising patient safety
Patient safety is a chronic and obstinate problem in clinical healthcare despite continual efforts to improve safety through national safety frameworks, guidance and policy. This research project investigates how considering patient and more-than-human experience in the conceptualisation of healthcare as a sociotechnical system might improve patient safety outcomes.
Since the publication of ‘To err is human: Building a safer health system’ (Kohn et al., 2000) ongoing efforts to improve patient safety in the UK, Europe and the US have been predicated on the conceptualisation of healthcare as a sociotechnical system. Such efforts have involved a shift from placing blame on individual clinicians to attributing and distributing accountability across systems of care givers, material technologies as well as more-than human factors. Despite the improvements brought by evidence-based practices of clinical accountability, serious and harmful, yet entirely preventable, healthcare ‘never events’ persist.
To err is more-than-human is an interdisciplinary research project that combines empirical analysis of patient safety incidents with more-than-human approaches to participatory codesign in order to consider new ways of conceptualising healthcare systems and responding to adverse healthcare events, patient experience and practices of care. Key to the approach taken in the research is an understanding of healthcare as an ecology of feeling, where the experience of practitioners and patients, as well as other human and nonhuman constituents, are emphasised as necessary and fundamental conditions of sociotechnical healthcare provision.
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