This course examines the human dimensions of engineering and design by looking at the ways artifacts are designed, produced, circulated, and used in context. Rather than a comprehensive survey of movements or paradigms in the history of design, this course employs a thematic approach to understanding the ways objects can articulate and reflect social and cultural concerns. Through a series of readings, projects, lectures, and seminars, we will study the surprising ways everyday objects influence and articulate our identities, desires, biases, and experiences.
This course is intended to support students in developing a critical toolkit for use as designers, users, consumers, and citizens. Throughout the term we will seek to challenge our assumptions about the politics of design and interrogate the ways its products mediate and are changed through human activity. We will write about and visualize these relationships, thinking critically how objects are made, what makes them relevant, and whether things have the power to change our economic, environmental, and social realities.