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Beyond speculation: using speculative methods to surface ethics and positionality in design practice and pedagogy

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  • 1 Sheffield Hallam University, UK
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This paper explores the relationship between speculative design and ethics, both within and beyond the context of design pedagogic research. It examines some our struggles in, and motivations for, engaging with speculative methods in design as design scholars and practitioners, by reflecting on research which aimed to explore whether speculative, future facing design curricula would have an impact on raising design students’ awareness of design’s agency, beyond the micro-environment of specific design disciplines or disciplinary industrial contexts.

We draw on feminist theory and critique to go on to argue that speculative methods could help the design discipline to break out of its oft wilful ontological blindness but, in order to fulfil their full critical and transformative potential, foundational ethics, and questions of positionality, require equal status around the table. If speculation is to facilitate the surfacing of issues around positionality and foundational ethics within the design curriculum and beyond, contestations central to feminist critique such as ‘what futures and whose futures’ are needed.

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