Students tackle diversity and inclusion in the IDE bachelor course ‘Codesign in Services’

News - 21 June 2023 - Communication

This year, 43 students from the TU Delft | Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering’s bachelor elective course, ‘Codesign in Services’, were tasked with exploring concrete Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) issues that are faced by the people of TU Delft. The assignment specifically asked students to focus on addressing the issues of neurodiversity and learning environments; personal background and sociocultural integration; and gender identity and equal opportunities. Keep reading to find out more about the course and this year’s assignment.

Image from 'Codesign in Services' Studio 18 Group 2's report

“This elective course, ‘Codesign in Services’ is intended as an introduction to service design, with an emphasis on participatory approaches to social justice,” says Course Coordinator and IDE Assistant Professor Fernando Secomandi. “This year, we collaborated with TU Delft’s Diversity & Inclusion Office, with the help of IDE Associate Professor and D&I Officer Elif Özcan Vieira.” The elective course is offered to IDE bachelor students through the faculty’s Department of Design, Organisation and Strategy (DOS). 

This course offers design students a great opportunity to think systemically about how to be more inclusive in service design. Such inclusivity is inherent to the co-design process as many stakeholders contribute with their own background, culture, discipline, knowledge and way of being.

― Associate Professor Elif Özcan Vieira
Image from 'Codesign in Services' Studio 17 Group 3's report

A different way of doing things

Codesigning services calls for a different way of doing things. Instead of designing 'for' people, it’s about designing 'with' people. Designers must also acknowledge that people’s experiences of services can be cocreated by multiple stakeholders interacting through various types of service interfaces. 

Different types of organisations, whether in private, public or third sectors, are looking to codesign approaches as a way to design better services that can meet human needs, while distributing benefits and burdens across society in equitable ways.

And this is exactly what students learned how to do in this elective course. The course, which wrapped up just a few weeks ago, taught students a variety of skills, including:

  • To better understand the power dynamics of codesigning sessions 
  • To think critically about different forms of power that can affect participants of design activities
  • To adapt design methods and tools in order to empower various stakeholders to design new services

During the course, students demonstrated how eager they are to learn more about social justice and to engage with external participants, especially from vulnerable groups who are usually disregarded in design processes.

― Fernando Secomandi
Image from 'Codesign in Services' Studio 19 Group 3's report

Lectures, collaborative work, codesign sessions, and more!

The course was divided into two parts. In the first part, students learned through lectures, self-study, and collaborative work. They also had weekly lectures by external guests who could provide expert insight into cases, issues, and circumstances of codesign projects in private, public, and third sector service organisations. 

In the second part, students planned and executed codesign sessions to tackle real-world challenges of service organisations. For this practical assignment, student groups assumed full responsibility for organising codesign sessions with external participants. Three coaches, Dirk Snelders, Emma Schalkers, and Paula Melo Signerez, helped them in the process.

One of the coaches, Paula Melo Signerez, a PhD Candidate within DOS, comments: “In this version of the 'Codesign in Services' course, I joined Fernando Secomandi as a course coach. In the course we examine participatory approaches as a way to design better services in an equitable way, including different stakeholders in the process.”

This makes it a challenging course that invites us to reflect on social and cultural design issues and the value that design can bring to services. This year there was an emphasis on the internal perspective of IDE, which was highly appreciated by the students.

― Paula Melo Signerez
Image from 'Codesign in Services' Studio 18 Group 3's report

A sneak peek at some of the students’ work 

Of the eleven student projects, we would like to share the work of three of the student groups. The summaries were written by the course’s teaching assistant, Nivedhitha Sathish Kumar

Group 3 (Studio 19)

Gendered language is common at TU Delft, often used unknowingly or out of habit. This exclusionary language in many forms makes gender-nonconforming students feel excluded. The focus of the codesign is on improving the communication language to foster inclusivity and student belonging. To better understand the problem, the group conducted initial qualitative research. During the codesign session, they made use of two methods to bring out ideas for improvement: “Mind Mapping” and “How Might We?” They identified that political content irritated participants and social media was ineffective, whereas personal experiences were valuable and memorable.

Group 2 (Studio 18)

Communication between students, teaching assistants and professors at IDE is vital for inclusivity and respect. But the engagement between the parties is limited and overly formal. Therefore the codesign session is meant to provide a platform for expressing concern and improving interactions at IDE. After conducting a preliminary session to test the flow and methods, the final session had methods like Dice Roll for problem finding and ideation of ideal situations for solution finding. From the session, they noted few improvement strategies one of which is incorporating casual communication ways.

Group 3 (Studio 17)

Research shows that TU Delft services for ADHD students aren't effective enough. These students often struggle to initiate action due to feeling overwhelmed. Thus, the codesign focus for the group is on enhancing personal support for ADHD students. The group had 2 preliminary sessions to test their flow and methods. Brainwriting and bodystorming worked well for the target group, energizing them and fostering interpersonal interactions. They identified 5 themes: helplessness, concrete steps, a unified interface, personal preferences, and inclusivity awareness that will aid ADHD students.

Looking back on this year’s course