Emerging Practices Design Research and Education Conference 2017: The Social World

Emerging Practices Design Research and Education Conference 2017:

The Social World


College of Design and Innovation, Tongji University, Shanghai, China

October 9–10, 2017


Conference Theme:

The Social World

Every autumn, the Tongji University College of Design and Innovation organizes a small and highly interactive design research and education conference titled “Emerging Practices” (EPC). In a series that began in 2012, we are now planning the sixth edition of EPC for 2017.


Following the publication of the DesignX Manifesto in 2014, EPC has developed conversations around DesignX topics. Over the past three years, we have expanded the frame of EPC. In 2014, we explored “Developing: Community - Economic - Education - Research - Exploration.” In 2015, we worked on “Design Activism.” In 2016, we focused on “Design in Complexity.” This year, we return to the challenge of complex sociotechnical systems, the original subject of the DesignX Manifesto. Starting with EPC 2017, we will initiate two rounds of conversations. The first, in 2017, considers complex sociotechnical systems from the perspective of society. The second, in 2018, will examine complex sociotechnical systems in the context of technology. To focus on “The Social World,” EPC2017 will cooperate with the DESIS Network.


The DesignX Manifesto outlined the challenges of working with complex sociotechnical systems. It suggested a framework within which designers might address these issues. In 2015, the DesignX Workshop explored the principles of working with these systems in the real world. One of the key challenges in applying these principles is moving from an aspirational proposal to a working system. To make systems work in meeting human needs, we must implement our plans.


After the workshop, Donald A. Norman and Pieter Jan Stappers published an article titled "DesignX: Complex Sociotechnical Systems" in She Ji: The Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation. This article reinforced the challenge of implementation. This open access article is available at URL:


Kyle Behymer and John Flach expanded on this in an article focusing on sociotechnical systems from the perspective of human-machine collaboration. This open access article is available at URL:


If we are to influence the real world in meaningful, beneficial ways, designers must develop new knowledge and practices at the intersection of different fields. We live in a time when designers attempt to work directly with complex sociotechnical systems. We intervene in and modify complex systems, and we hope to improve them.


At EPC 2017, we will focus on a central concern of the DesignX initiative. We will explore the ways in which designers can contribute to improving complex sociotechnical systems. Doing this requires exploring the nature of these systems.


Over the past century, established disciplines have developed increasingly deep understandings about complex systems -- what they are, how they work, and why. The social and natural sciences have accumulated useful knowledge, as have engineering and computer science. More recently, these fields have begun to develop effective practices that allow human beings to work with these systems.


To intervene effectively in such systems and to design or redesign them, designers must learn from those disciplines. We must understand the concepts, skills, and knowledge that emerge at the intersections where these disciplines meet. We must provide distinct approaches that can integrate relevant knowledge to create innovative solutions for emerging needs. Over the past decade, designers and design researchers have created a growing body of inquiry using interdisciplinary approaches to enhance social well-being.


EPC2017 will focus on society, exploring complex systems by inquiring into social goals, needs, and approaches. We will carry the insights of this year's conference forward in EPC2018 by extending the focus to the technological sphere of DesignX.


Echoing the theme of Tongji Design Week 2017 — “New World” — EPC2017 will specifically invite young scholars from the BRIC countries and developing regions to share their practices and insights on “The Social World.” We also invite leading scholars from around the world to enrich the conversation. EPC2017 will include a special discussion session to develop these ideas.


We invite you to attend EPC2017. We hope that you will join us for two days of participatory interaction, working together in dialogue and the encounter of ideas.

Conference Information


Dates: October 910, 2017


Location: College of Design & Innovation, Tongji University, Shanghai, China


Conference language: English


Conference Registration


Registration  information will be released soon.


Contact Persons


Conference Chair:

LOU Yongqi, Dean, College of Design and Innovation, Tongji University


Conference Coordinator: GAO Bo, ZHOU Xing


Academic Advisors: Richard Buchanan, CAI Jun, FANG Hai, FANG Xiaofeng, Ken Friedman, HE Renke, Peter Jones, MA Jin, Ezio Manzini, Donald A. Norman, Pieter Jan Stappers, Patrick Whitney, XU Ping





College of Design and Innovation, Tongji University at URL

PDF can be downloaded here:



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