The Blended Perspective refers to a process that I have developed for my research and teaching that helps designers assess their work in terms of social impact by incorporating key principles and processes of community engagement and social impact assessment derived from the social sciences. These principles and processes, if integrated into a design process, can help provide a more holistic understanding of how design work might intend to impact societal contexts.
Many graphic designers are concerned with addressing and attempting to resolve complex problems within and around the social, technological, economic, environmental and/or political landscapes of our societies. In so doing, they are often faced with the challenging task of assessing the impacts of these practices in order to understand and measure affected change accurately and ethically, often aiming to weigh and respond to the needs of many stakeholder groups. In order to do this effectively, designers should have a deeper understanding of evidence-based research methodologies that allow them to monitor the social consequences, both positive and negative, of the design systems that they create.
By applying a more rigorous social impact assessment as a critical review of the design process, designers may be able to confront and more effectively influence the short-, medium-, and long-term implications of the work they are producing, understanding with greater conviction how almost any given array of work will impact potential social groups, economic and manufacturing sectors, political agendas, and other contexts.
The article, entitled “A Blended Perspective: Social Impact Assessment in Graphic Design,” is available online in the fourth issue of the AIGA (The Professional Association of Design) DEC (Design Educators Community) open-access scholarly journal, Dialectic Volume 2, Issue 02.