This is a reflective inquiry into a three-year-running course assignment in the Embedded Design (EmDes) MFA program at the University of Gothenburg. The assignment titled “Institutional Investigation” (#Insti.Invest) is placed in the introductory course for the EmDes program where students –while entering the institution– are positioned as critical investigators mapping the institution’s spaces, programs, support structures, management style, and finally assigned to propose an intervention within/on said institution (#Insti.Invest2020 is exemplified and shared as a method in the Erasmus+ study, Teaching to Transgress Toolbox, or TTTT, see http://ttttoolbox.net/Portal_to_the_Institution::Score3.xhtml). The inquiry aims to point to the ethical quandaries at stake when attempting to pedagogically “institute agency” within an introductory course. The method applied is a critical discussion between the course leader (S. Hookway) and a colleague (L.van Leeuwen) as an outsider of the EmDes teaching team. #Insti.Invest’s intentions, application, and results will be questioned with respect to their capability in increasing student agency in their institution. Using a critical pedagogies lens, “Institute agency” is broken down into “to institute” or to put into effect and “agency” or the capacity to act. The dialogical inquiry is underpinned by critiques of design- and participation-related ethics (e.g. Ahmed, 2014 & 2021; Fisher & Gamman, 2019).
Samantha Hookway is the Director of the Embedded Design MFA Programme and Lecturer at HDK-Valand – Academy of Art and Design, University of Gothenburg. Embedded Design is a strategic-plus-artistic practice applied to organizational contexts and aims to enable change. This practice requires an infusion of designerly and pedagogically ways of working within both the academy and client work. Her research interest intersects a curiosity and a method-building approach that inquires upon how design and design education can unlock tendencies to enact agency within students and stakeholders alike.
Lieselotte van Leeuwen is a research psychologist with a PhD in developmental psychology. After working as a researcher and teacher at five Universities and Industry in Europe and the UK, she is currently a senior lecturer at the HDK-Valand Academy of Art & Design at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. Her research interest is the interface between design and behavior. Supporting students as co-creators of their education has been one of her professional goals as a teacher in Higher Education for the last 20 years.