The transdisciplinary Crisis Interrogatives collective critically discusses topics at the intersection of design, technology and socially engaged practices. In September 2020, when people all over the globe had been struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic for months, a group of Aalto University researchers and students from different schools decided to start gathering for virtual coffee chats and organizing participatory online workshops together, unpacking interrelated aspects of crises.
Now the new collective called Crisis Interrogatives comes together regularly to discuss important, crisis-related topics from a critical perspective, and re-imagine them in new ways, as core members Natalia Villaman, Floris van der Marel, Henriette Friis, and Sid Rao explain in this interview.
The Academy of Finland has granted special funding for research projects studying crisis preparedness and security of supply. One of the projects funded is by Professor of Practice Nitin Sawhney from the Department of Computer Science. He receives a three-year grant for his research focusing on analyzing and reconstructing crisis narratives. Sawhney is conducting this research in collaboration with Jonas Sivelä from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL). They will use qualitative research methods and computational data analytics of crisis discourses in news and social media for this project.
Everyday choices: How do we cooperate in times of crisis?, October 20, 2020
“A crisis often brings out the best in humanity and helps reimagine how it can transform us. It offers an opportunity to recalibrate society; an opportunity to devise more inclusive and integrative solutions, rather than just addressing only one aspect. For example, during this global pandemic we’ve begun to pay attention to the health and economic disparities around the world, and our relationship to wildlife, ecology and the climate; all of these unfolding crises are inter-related. Every crisis offers an opportunity for radical shifts in technology, design and social practices, as we’ve already seen emerging with this global pandemic.” ~ Nitin Sawhney
“Sawhney says he hopes to push himself and his students to consider how we can contribute to collectively understanding and designing for seemingly intractable problems. ‘I feel like climate change, besides this pandemic, is one of the biggest crises for the globe and our future, and if we are not finding a way to collectively address this crisis, I don’t know how we are going to be valuable.’
Sawhney plans to already begin teaching online at Aalto, including a special topics course on ‘Human-Centred Research and Design in Crisis.’ He hopes that students will develop a deeper understanding of how to conduct research and design for technological innovations in complex crisis contexts, while examining their ethical implications, including with the current COVID-19 pandemic. ‘The course will offer students opportunities to engage industry and organizational partners in the city and elsewhere, but also help us as a faculty to develop socially engaged curricula that we can expand in future courses.’”