BIROn - Birkbeck Institutional Research Online

    Empowering change for future-making: developing agency by framing wicked problems through design

    Lehtonen, M. and Yeow, Pamela and Chew, J. (2022) Empowering change for future-making: developing agency by framing wicked problems through design. Futures 139 , p. 102952. ISSN 0016-3287.

    48097.pdf - Author's Accepted Manuscript
    Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

    Download (1MB) | Preview


    As the world and its challenges are becoming more complex, students and practitioners alike need to develop a more nuanced understanding of how to navigate problems today for envisioning desirable futures. Design’s inherent focus on future-making and dealing with ill-defined problems has been identified as a potential way forward. Yet, there is a paucity of studies looking at what elements support (or hinder) students developing agency when it comes to framing and identifying problems. By taking the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals as an example of ill-defined problems, we studied a multidisciplinary student body in a higher education institution attending a three-week intensive course focusing on how design can serve as a catalyst for social and environmental change. Our findings suggest future-oriented problem framing is dependent on the following aspects: combining theory and practice, engaging with the world and its complexities, reciprocal trust in design teams, self-reflection, changing perspectives, and emotional investment. Based on the findings, a model is crafted to illustrate how agency for future-making can emerge and be developed by engaging with real-life problems through design. Implications for research and practice point towards a more balanced relationship between skill development and ways of engaging with the surrounding world.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): agency theory, design thinking, futures consciousness, global challenges, multidisciplinarity, potential futures
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Business and Law > Birkbeck Business School
    Research Centres and Institutes: Innovation Management Research, Birkbeck Centre for
    Depositing User: Pam Yeow
    Date Deposited: 22 Apr 2022 14:47
    Last Modified: 22 Apr 2024 00:10


    Activity Overview
    6 month trend
    6 month trend

    Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.

    Archive Staff Only (login required)

    Edit/View Item Edit/View Item