TU Delft hosts conference on Design and Engineering for Development

The Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, in cooperation with the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management, will play host to the Design and Engineering for Well-being, Agency and Justice event on November 20 and 21, 2014.

The two-day conference brings together international researchers, philosophers, designers and engineers to critically reflect on the humanitarian challenges in the developing world and to explore concrete methods to effectuate positive change in the field. Organized as part of the NWO-funded research project “Technology and Human Development – A Capability Approach”, the event also includes several workshops on relevant topics with a view to educate designers and engineers as future practitioners from the perspective of well-being, agency and justice.

“The event aims to bring together people who share an interest in development,” said Dr. Ilse Oosterlaken, conference co-organizer and Assistant Director of the Dutch Research School of Philosophy (OZSW). “This includes people working in humanitarian engineering and design for development, but also people who are more generally concerned with how the values of agency, justice and well-being can be brought to bear on innovation and design. The academic conference is also meant to share the results of our own research with others.”

Although there are significant development issues in many countries worldwide, the conference’s primary focus is on the Global South, where the challenges are more pronounced. “While [Indian economist and philosopher] Amartya Sen argues that a lack of opportunities is not exclusive to people in developing regions, the lack of opportunities is most obvious here,” said Annemarie Mink, conference co-organizer and PhD candidate at TU Delft (TPM). “In developing regions, people often lack more and more basic opportunities and there are a lot of unfulfilled needs and desires. Products specifically designed for people living in these regions have a huge potential to contribute to their opportunities.”

With over 20 speakers and workshop organizers in attendance, the conference aims to discuss how design and engineering have the potential to address the challenges of the developing world and the socio-economic and cultural issues that emerge from these contributions. “We hope that participants will get inspired by the ideas and approaches, which various presenters and workshop organizers will share, and gain a new perspective on the topic,” Oosterlaken said. “It would be nice if this leads to future collaborations.”

Tickets for the event are available online until November 13. For more information, visit their website.